I confess. The story caught my eye because it indicts me. So this piece is as much for me as anybody else who might read it. As with some of my alcoholic friends, I'm in recovery now. But I'll always battle the problem of perfectionism.

Nobody can be perfect, and perfectionists know that. So the quest to meet high standards, function to the max, and produce is always frustrating. The stress and anxiety it generates spills over to others as well, making them miserable too.

BBC News Online published the following piece that might help you spot your own tendency toward this particular form of dysfunction:

Top Ten Signs Your a Perfectionist

  1. You can't stop thinking about a mistake you made

  2. You are intensely competitive and can't stand doing worse than others.

  3. You either want to do something "just right" or not at all.

  4. You demand perfection from other people.

  5. You won't ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.

  6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.

  7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.

  8. You are highly aware of other people's demands and expectations.

    Perfectionism is rooted in pride.
  9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.

  10. You noticed the error in the title of this list.

Contrary to what appears to be the accepted wisdom about perfectionist tendencies, it arises not from self-hatred or a poor self-image but the opposite. Perfectionism is rooted in pride. Not self-hatred but self-love. Not a poor self-image but an inflated self-image. That fact probably lies behind Paul — who seems to exhibit traits of a perfectionist — counseling a Christian "not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment."

Certain rational steps can help deal with this irrational problem. Teach yourself to set reasonable goals. Point out to yourself that the world doesn't end when you get a less-than-perfect outcome. Remind yourself that some processes are as worthwhile as the goal being pursued. Learn something from setbacks.

God gave you your worth when he created you in his image. So don't get fooled into tying worth to achievement, value to accomplishment. In our human condition, we all need grace, forgiveness, and acceptance — even from ourselves.

If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:8-10)