Pride, Perfectionism and Anger—Confessions of a Recovering Jerk

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of frankieleon

I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. Truly. I’m not a millionaire and may never be, but I’m infinitely rich. I wouldn’t trade the wonderful people I know personally and on-line for anything. This is a tough post to write because it’s vulnerable. But I know that all of us struggle and fail and fall and often what keeps us pressing is to know others have been a mess (or still are one). It’s why I’ve branded everything I do under We Are Not Alone.

I have a confession. I am a Recovered (Recovering?) Jerk. It would be nice to lie to you and tell you I never have my moments, but I do. Thankfully, they are much rarer than they used to be. Today, I’d like to talk about some of my Jerk Reformation. It could be a BOOK…okay a SERIES of books, but we will touch on the highlights.

And I realize all of you are kind and sweet and don’t need this for you, but maybe it can help with someone you know 😉 .


I used to be highly critical of everyone and everything, including myself. The last part was likely what others never saw. I led those around me to believe they never measured up, but the truth was, I never measured up. I came from a highly dysfunctional and chaotic home. I knew nothing of peace. I only knew control. Granted, in my mind I was helping. Yet, I’ve learned over the years that people need love more than “help.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.46.35 AM

I was fraud.

On the outside my clothes were perfect, my hair perfect, my house perfect, but truth was? I was falling apart. I felt that showing any weakness was bad, that it made me a failure. This made me prideful and afraid to ask for help. Others didn’t see I needed help because, “Well, Kristen is ‘perfect'” *rolls eyes* Granted, others probably sensed I was a mess so my “perfect” facade simply generated more resentment.

People aren’t fond of phonies. Imagine that?

Life popped me on the snoot and opened my eyes to my character (or lack thereof), my poor attitude, my judgmental ways and my impossible (and stupid) standards. I couldn’t give away what I didn’t have. I had no grace for myself, so how could I give that to others?

I was white-knuckled-terrified of failure, of not knowing ALL the answers or being *gasp* WRONG. Every quiet moment was a montage in my mind of how I sucked, how I’d screwed up, how I should’ve could’ve would’ve….


Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

I refused to cry, to let others know I was a mess. I bottled it up—the fear, the disappointment, the feelings of inadequacy.

What I’ve come to understand is that failure is the tuition we pay for success (Yes, I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately). Failure is vital. Failure is an event, not a state of being. Failure is to be celebrated, because it means we’re being brave. We’re trying. We’re daring to do something remarkable. As I began to give myself permission to fall on my face and laugh it off, I realized I needed to do that with others.

We don’t need critics who point out we fell and draw a diagram of our stupidity and how “they would have done it better.” Likely they wouldn’t have done it any better and even if they did? Who cares? What we need is a hand helping us up, patting us on the back and then high-fiving us for daring to TRY.


An ugly stepchild of perfectionism is pride. As I mentioned earlier I was prideful. I knew better, did it better and life was all a competition because 2nd place was the first loser.

Dumb, dumb, dumbditty-dumb-dumb.

Yes, I know. I had something to prove but was too foolish to realize there is nothing in life TO PROVE. Good people don’t judge us by our resume or our lists of accomplishments or rows of trophies. Others won’t remember our designer handbag, our perfect house, our fancy car. They will remember and respond to how we made them feel when they were in our company. 

In the United States, the average household has SEVEN credit cards. Out of your hundred closest neighbors, four homes are on the verge of being foreclosed upon. How many of us buy into the lie that others care that much? We run and scramble to keep up with the Joneses when we aren’t seeing the Joneses are BROKE, hurting and miserable.

I worked a job for years that I loathed because the pay was good and the title “impressive.” But, I longed to write. Oh, but writing meant I might have to shop at Walmart or thrift stores instead of fancy boutiques. I might have to drive an old car and clip coupons. THE HORROR! What would others THINK?

Probably nothing, LOL.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.49.52 AMThe funny thing was all those people who were my friends when I could pick up the tab or take them shopping vanished when the money ran out. I learned the hard way that real friends aren’t for sale 😉 .

Pride created other problems. Because I was too afraid to admit I wasn’t the All-Knowing-Oracle-Perfect-At-All-Things, I was an unteachable @$$. This left me to relying on luck and resenting others who were successful. Tearing others down to make myself feel better.

Oh, sure, SHE’S a successful writer. If I had a more supportive family, a better computer, a magic pad of FLOWER POST-ITS I could be there too. WHAAAAAHH!

Stupid, I know.

But when I let down my guard and began to admit that perhaps-maybe-kinda-sorta that I didn’t precisely-specifically-exactly KNOW EVERYTHING I began to grow. I could take advice and even *gasp* criticism. I could separate my work from ME. Mentors, critique partners, etc. were pointing out problems in a story or a situation, not ME. Wow! Who knew?

These were baby steps to learning that my work could be flawed and I’d live and even improve. The next step? I could be flawed in my character, behavior, or attitudes and would live to tell the tale! I might even…improve.

Whoud’a thunk?

Boundaries, Anger, Forgiveness

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

For a long time I suffered with an anger problem. I’d love to lie to you guys and tell you I’m perfect and cured but I hear thunder rumbling outside and don’t want to push my luck 😀 . When I grew to a point that I could accept increasing layers of critique/criticism with my writing, I was more open to others pointing out my personal flaws.


I was a people-pleaser and said yes to everything. Then I’d get overloaded, stressed, angry and lash out. I’m still working on not overextending. I love to help. This is a great character trait, but it needs balance. One of the reasons I’d lash out in anger is I was realllllly bad at putting down boundaries, communicating them and sticking to them in a loving way. I’d back up and back up and back up and say, “Oh, it’s okay” when it wasn’t.

Then BOOM!

Image of a Kristen Temper Tantrum via Wikimedia Commons.

Image of a Kristen Temper Tantrum via Wikimedia Commons.

Three of my best friends, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Jay Donovan and Piper Bayard pointed this out (among other things). It hurt. I defended. I railed against the unfairness…then realized *sigh* they were correct.

What I’ve learned is that boundaries are part of all healthy relationships. I heard this metaphor and love it. Your life, MY life is like a beautiful garden (which likely needs a lot of weeding but that’s another post). Frequently we buy into the lie that fences are bad. People should be free to come in and out of our lives. This is true, which is why all good fences have a GATE.

Image courtesy of Norah Wilson WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Norah Wilson WANA Commons

We need to let people in and out and through, but this doesn’t mean we offer them permission to dump old tires and toxic waste into our space. I was letting others bring in junk and saying, “Oh, it’s okay, set the rusted emotional refrigerator there…but next time.” No, it isn’t okay. It wasn’t okay. This led to anger, resentment and then an outburst.

HOW COULD YOU PUT THAT HERE? So I LET you…. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke

I’d explode, then justify. Then talk about it over and over and over as if this replay made me being an angry jerk okay (Hint: It didn’t). And then I’d think about it over and over and that’s when anger had a chance to take root. I didn’t know how to forgive, thus adding to my Supreme Jerk Status.

Are We Ringing the Bell?

I used to believe that forgiving others gave them a pass, that they were somehow “getting away” with something. Unbelievably, I’d somehow forget about all the times I’d shown MY butt and wanted grace. I was wanting from others what I was unwilling to give in return.

Then I heard another story and it changed me (because I dig anecdotes).

There once was a young monk who’d been terribly wronged by another. He prayed and prayed but the anger never went away. He could not forgive no matter how hard he tried. So, he went to the old parish priest and asked for advice. The older priest knew the young man was in charge of ringing the bells for service. He said to the young man, “When you pull the rope to ring the bell, does it only sound once?”

The young monk replied, “Well, no, it keeps ringing.”

“But the ringing eventually gets softer then fades and finally stops. Correct?”


“My son, anger and forgiveness is the ringing of the bell. The pain will be deafening at first and will take time to fade. Our job is to not continue to pull the rope.”

I used to believe that if I forgave, that magically-mystically the pain would go away. It doesn’t. It takes time. This is why my family was so angry (and many still are). They are still talking about when Such-and-Such did this or that and how awful they were and GOOD GRIEF that person has been DEAD for 15 years! Enough already!

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Maybe some of you have relationships where you aren’t in trouble for something you just did, you are still getting hammered with how you failed a month ago, a year ago, or when you were FIVE.

And the bells still ring.

I didn’t realize I was doing that to others. To make my poor behavior somehow better, I’d talk about how Thus-And-Such did this or that and HOW AWFUL and poor ME. Then, I was oblivious to why I couldn’t have solid relationships.

Here’s the hard news. All of us will be hurt and all of us will hurt others. It’s life. With some, we need to stop ringing bells. I was terribly abused by certain people and I had to discipline myself to let it go. I was letting someone rent space in my head for free. Failing to forgive was like drinking poison and hoping the other person would drop dead.

And this is why the gate is vital. We need to forgive. Forgiveness is for US. This doesn’t, however, mean we allow the person free reign to trample though our garden. Some people might never get to come through the gate. This doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven or are still angry, it means we are setting a BOUNDARY.

For instance, I have a family member who is like living with Mt. Vesuvius. Everything has to be HER way and she looks for opportunities to create strife. I recall the family throwing a birthday party and, as par for the course, this person arrived and within minutes, the conflict began.

In the old days, I would have bitten. It would have become a Jersey-Shores-Jerry-Springer-Argument over who’d done what or worse or whatever. We’d have fought over a list of wrongs reaching back to the 80s.

This time? I didn’t. I calmly said, “I understand you’re upset. Please go take ten minutes to cool off. But, we are here for a birthday celebration and we still want to be. But, if you are going to act this way, then I’m afraid we will have to leave. I hope you choose to let it go and enjoy the fun we’ve prepared.” And the difference this time was I was calm, but I was also FULLY prepared to leave.

As a recovering jerk, I was unwilling to take the bait. I’d learned that if I maintained peace, the offender would be the only jerk left standing. Jerks can be like a hurricane. They NEED that hot-moist air to fuel their raw powers of destruction. If we refuse to fuel them, they fizzle.

Image of a Family Reunion from SPACE, courtesy of Tom Brandt via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image of a Family Reunion from SPACE, courtesy of Tom Brandt via Flickr Creative Commons.

The same applied to ME. The perfectionism, pride, back-biting, resentment, jealousy, anger, false pretenses were fuel that kept me in the destructive cycle of being a jerk. To change, I needed to learn to love others where they are. Love myself where I am. Perfection is a lie. Pride is a poison.

We Are All Works in Progress

We all have good days, bad days and days we wish we could erase completely. Most people are not sitting up all night thinking of ways to make others miserable (Some do, so don’t let them through that gate until they knock it off). We screw up and always will.

But the good news is we can learn, grow and become better. We can discipline ourselves to look for the good in ourselves and others, because it takes no great talent to be critical. And the beautiful thing is when we learn to give ourselves permission to be imperfect, we get better at extending that grace to others.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, via Stupid.Photos

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, via Stupid.Photos

If we only want to be around “perfect” people, life will get really lonely. Also, good fence-building is a skill that takes time.

I love this blog and adore all of you. Honestly. I love how you guys talk about your struggles and lift one another up. I’m inspired by your generosity, your honesty, your newness, your authenticity, your brokenness, your flaws, your weakness, your strengths and all of it makes me better every day. I might still be a jerk without you 😀 .

What are your thoughts? Shocked I am a Recovering Jerk? Hey, we jerks need friends too. Do you struggle with perfectionism? Do you find yourself holding others to super high standards because you do it to yourself? Are you afraid of being you? Afraid if people knew your house was loaded with laundry they might not like you?

Do you deal with family who tramples through your heart and home? Are you learning about how to put up good fences too? Are you afraid if you cry you might never stop? Are you a Recovering Jerk too? What did you learn?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.


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    • Laurel Decher on March 26, 2014 at 11:41 am
    • Reply

    Thanks, Kristen–that was a brave post about things that matter.
    May we all get a little better at extending grace to ourselves and others.

  1. Great post!

  2. This is an awesome post. Almost prophetic.

  3. Having come from an extremely dysfunctional family I struggle with these issues all the time. Each time I show weakness or reveal my negative feelings, or ask for help it is a huge risk. There is another side to this coin. We can go too much the other way. Both sides can be equally alienating. No one like a judgmental perfectionist. Neither do they like the needy downer. Finding that balance is a long learning process.

    1. I probably did both. I want a Delorean so I can go back in time and slap myself, LOL.

  4. Everything I hear from you is always so valuable and timely, Kristen. This one is no exception. Thanks for making me laugh while reminding me of the truth today!

  5. OK–this is way too good, especially the monk story. I stole it already….

    1. I stole it too, LOL. Good writers borrow and great writers STEAL, right? 😀

  6. I struggled and still struggle with this. Not just in my offline life but, in my writing life. I have myself been one of those have to please everyone or they will get mad and leave me people. Now I’m starting to figure out. If I have to do that then I don’t need them.
    My mom’s cancer gave me that kick in my pants I needed.
    Yvonne I know what you mean in my family it’s a no no to ask for help and you don’t show when your sick or show emotion. Or it was now I could give a **** lol I show my emotional side now with pride or at the very least i should say I am starting too.
    Thanks Kristen for the great posting.

  7. It is so courageous of you to post this, Kristen. It takes strength to admit failure, especially to yourself, and to then turn around and forgive yourself for what in retrospect is something regrettable. Even worse is the fall from the lofty, comfortable feeling of confidence. Thank you for the reminder that perfectionism is a vice, not a virtue, and that in our blindness we often strive for the wrong characteristics by chasing imitation values.

  8. Great post. I too stuck at something because of the money and title finally illness made me stop and now at last aged 52 I’m doing what I want writing. One book published and poor as a church mouse but no stress and I’m happy 🙂

  9. Your post reminded me of important things I need to keep in my sites instead of obsessing over every little failure and mishap. Thank you. I won’t elaborate but I REALLY needed to read this post today.

  10. *shuffles forward* “Hi, my name’s, Alan, and I’m a jerk.”

    The first step is awareness of the problem, right? I’ve been aware of it for a while now, so maybe I’m on the road to recovery, but I catch myself relapsing too often. Jealousy is my drug of choice most of the time. I have to keep reminding myself of one of Konrath’s idioms: No one owes me a living.

    People succeed all the time while performing sub-standard work — it galls me, but, to paraphrase you Kristen, the only fair in life is the one where the carny takes your money and chuckles while you fail miserably at his game.

    This Buttercup needs to suck it up and move on. Thanks for your thought-provoking post 🙂

  11. Great post again, Kristen! I have that problem too – I am afraid to say no to people, so I keep backing up and backing up, and accepting more and more things that are NOT okey, thinking that I can take it. Until at one point I have my back to a wall and the only way out is to charge forward, laying destruction in the wake. So the theme of establishing boundaries (and sticking to them, most importantly) is very important for me too.

  12. Kristen you are one brave cookie for walking out on the plank and telling us the truth about yourself. For those of us with the TypeA daily blues (I succeed. Therefore, I am. But if I fail….god help everyone around me) the world is a very black and white sort of place. It just is.

    Accepting that fact and yet being able to adjust our expectations of others and (more importantly) of ourselves, downsizing our overblown egos and accepting that not everyone on the planet wants to hear about how our inability to be THE BEST AT EVERYTHING makes us sad is Job 1. I get it, better than some.

    I was told at a lunch the other day by a very very dear friend when I was wallowing around in “my books sales suck. I suck. Life sucks.” pity party: “E.T. (my name when I’m not “Liz”) you are gonna give yourself a broken leg kicking yourself in your own ass over not being the Instant Overnight Author Success you somehow imagined you would be. You have succeeded at everything you’ve done (not true, but it gave me pause that she thought as much). So not being this zillionaire, talk-show circuit darling with a mega best selling book(s) soon to be made into a premium cable show(s) is making you insane. But it should not. The fact that you wrote one book, much less 20 and have fans who love you is enough. Stop thinking otherwise and enjoy it.”

    I am always looking for the next challenge. I made a lot of money selling houses. I helped found a successful craft brewery in a recession. I wrote and got 20 books published and even have “haters” on goodreads. But yet….I’m not The One. I’m not Perfect at it. I don’t wake up and count the offers to host me or to pay me. Sick and wrong. And true. But I too and recovering, slowly from my own addiction to my supposed greatness.

    And, I will admit it here and now, I stopped reading your blog for a while because I was so bloody jealous of YOUR success. Funny, isn’t it? Honestly you are a straight-talking, real-life inspiration and someday I hope I can buy you a (several) beer(s)!

    And ditto to what Alan said: let’s all go buy a carnival ticket to ride!


    1. LOL. If we humans weren’t such an epic mess, writers would be out of a job 😀 . Thanks for coming back and trust me, I so struggle every day. Many days having my shirt facing the correct direction is a triumph. But we laugh, love, learn, grow, cry, grow some more and best part is we have each other ((HUGS))

    2. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone that’s doing well complain. And who’s “doing well” is different from all perspectives. So it’s nice to sometimes have other people tell us we’re succesful.
      Today at poledance there was a spin that I had a hard time doing (all spins are hard, lol) and I smiled at the girl a pole way and said jokingly: “i hate you, you’re so great.”
      She smiled and then the trainer cam over. “What’s your problem?” she asked. “You can do it, too. I don’t see what the big fuzz is. Show me.”
      And I did and after a few tries she was rolling her eyes. “Gry, you’re doing fine!”
      And I blushed, knowing what a colossal ass I’d made of myself, lol 😀

  13. Beautiful, Kristen. Thanks for sharing.

  14. After I read your posts, I usually come away wanting to thank you.(Wise like Yoda, you are–sorry I had to let my inner geek out) So, thank you for revealing your vulnerabilities and letting us into your world to have a look around. As a writer, I struggle to let go of the the fear of being judged not good enough. I know that if I want to grow as a writer and a person, I have to take the good with the not so good and turn it into something that will work for me. It’s not always easy being my authentic self, but you give me inspiration to do so.

  15. This post completely resonates with the inner turmoil I have been struggling with lately !! Very inspirational.. thank you for sharing !!

  16. Reblogged this on Mom Brain is the new Blonde and commented:
    Check out this great post by Kristen Lamb. Very inspirational ! I was able to relate to it on many levels. Forgiveness and boundaries are areas where I know that I too could absolutely use improvement! Great read.

  17. I love reading these posts and learning more about you. It really makes it seem like we are all more alike than we think 🙂

    I really need to work on the forgiveness thing *sigh* I feel all this self-righteous anger over the ex and find it difficult to smile and say I forgive him. I know it will take time but one of my other flaws is impatience.I want things and I want them NOW LOL waiting isn’t easy but I try to pray every day and ask blessings on my ex even though I practically choke on the words. Maybe one of these years I’ll actually be able to say it and mean it 🙂

    1. It is hard. Remaining angry is easy. I had to learn to take control of my mouth and my mind. Put up GATES. If I can’t say anything nice, I don’t say it. When I think of a hurt or something someone did that injured me? I shut it down and focus on something good. Whenever we talk or think of wrongs, we are yanking that bell cord and the anger fires up all over again. It takes time for the ringing to stop. I won’t lie. But it takes time, practice, more time, more practice. We won’t always succeed but we keep working at it. ((HUGS))

      And we are all alike in more ways than we realize. We are truly not alone, LOL.

      1. When he pops into my head I so the shove and stuff: shove the thoughts aside or stuff them into an invisible trunk that I can lock. lol Works for the most part but there are still days that get to me

        1. Don’t put it in a trunk, put it on the curb or it will rot and smell up your head :D. Toss it! Just because others dump garbage in our lives doesn’t mean we have to keep it. You’ll get there. We are ALL works in progress and stinky rotting chickens do sneak in. We just get better at spotting then tossing them.

          1. Thanks!! *HUGS*

  18. Thanks for choosing to share yourself with us, faults and all. We are all recovering jerks really. I have been working hard to turn towards love rather than judgment and I find that it is working. The more I operate from a place of love, the more I love. I agree about every garden needing a fence though. Boundaries are a good thing.

  19. Wonderful post, and extremely relatable, especially the meme with the polar bear, because that has been exactly the inner critic’s mantra I am only now learning to see for the lie it is and put up those fences where appropriate.

  20. We are, indeed, not alone. It scares me a little that I recognise so much of myself in what you are saying (6/5 on the enneagram), but encourages me that I am not alone.

  21. Reblogged this on Dr. Shay West and commented:
    Wonderful words of wisdom by Kristen Lamb 🙂

  22. We are all WIP. Love this. It’s a great example of being “emotionally honest,” which is the basis of all great writing.

  23. Yes. Just…YES. Wonderful post.

  24. ((HUGS)) This. Sooo this. Thank you for this post.

    I learned years ago that forgiveness and absolution are not the same thing. Forgiveness is for US. It doesn’t mean the deed will be forgotten, but it means we can let it go and quit letting it fester inside us and move on. The bottom line is, we’re ALL faking it, in at least some way or another. Trying to keep up with impossible standards is impossible. This is why I fell in love with FlyLady and her way of learning to get organized. Progress, not perfection. I think learning to let go of my own perfection was the hardest. I’m so hard on myself it’s not even funny. But I’m trying, one baby step at a time.

    1. So true Tymber. I myself have had to learn to stop faking it and just be me. I had to learn this valuable lesson with someone close. I think in a way if we hold on to it. It kills apart of who we are and want to be.

  25. Reblogged this on smbysh and commented:
    Something to think over.

  26. Humor, wisdom, teachability… guts… you got it ALL, girl!

    • Marie Moneysmith on March 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm
    • Reply

    Wow!! So many little gems hitting home in this piece. Like you and so many others here, I’ve discovered that keeping my mouth shut — unless I have something positive to say — benefits everyone. Perfectionism and judging are toxic to everyone involved. THANK YOU for bringing this up and for your honesty — excellent post!!

  27. All things I’ve struggled with for a very long time (unknowingly, for the most part until just this year – ugh I’m 41, but you’re never too old to learn) and have been dealing with in therapy (lately) and in my own reading.

    We should create (unless there’s already a group, which I’m sure there is) a Jerkaholics Anonymous. Perfectionism is poison to the soul. As is pride. And they do definitely go hand in hand.

    I think, to a certain extent, anyone who has had a rough, unstable, abusive… the list goes on, childhood turns into a bit of a jerk because it’s our coping mechanism. We don’t know how else to be in the world because we weren’t given a safe place to learn how to be when we were young.

    So we have to learn it and teach ourselves now. And thank God we can. We are human, we are ever evolving and as long as we recognize the jerk within and WANT to change him/her, then there’s much hope.

    Gratitude is a HUGE factor in changing. It’s hard to be jerkish when you’re super grateful… hard but not impossible. 😉

    I don’t remember if I mentioned this book to you before, but it changed my life and I think (even though you’re in a great place of acknowledging your inner jerk) it would definitely help you and anyone else who is dealing with this kind of thing.

    It’s called “A Guide To Rational Living.” It was written in the 50s I believe so some of their “conversations” sound a bit silly to our contemporary ears, but the information and messages are SPOT ON.

    It’s odd when you can read yourself – to a T – in a book, but there it is. It’s written by Drs. Albert Ellis and Robert Harper and they use the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Another reader mentioned this type of therapy in one of your posts earlier last month. It’s pretty amazing.

    That book was the cheapest therapy I’ve ever had and I would say the most informative – it gives you the tools to recognize and change these irrational thoughts and beliefs we have that underlie all of our issues like perfectionism and pride and all the rest that really bring us down in the end. Get it – read it!

    Thanks for another vulnerable post, Kristen. Keep ’em comin’. We got your back. 🙂

    1. I’m not sure I agree perfectionism is a poison per say. I mean, perfectionism can come from passion for a thing and simply wanting to do it well.
      All these characteristics, pride, perfectionism, anger, naivité … they’re all there for a reason and I think their outlet will depend on that reason.

      Anyway, sign me up for jerkaholics, lol. This post totally made me see some of my own issues. It’s wonderful!
      And thanks for sharing that book!

      1. Perfectionism is the shill for excellence ;). We are all recovering jerks with good days and bad days and those days we just won’t talk about *hangs head*

        1. Haha, I love talking about them, though. I feel they’re important to growth 😛 But it can take years before we become capable of seeing our own mistakes.
          I’m only just now starting to see that I wasn’t just bullied in the younger classes. I was weird, too, and did some weird stuff. Not an excuse to bully, but still, I was pretty weird and not always that nice as I tried to figure out the humor of the other kids. (I thought satanic gallows humor was the way. Hint: it’s not.)

      2. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Gry. 🙂 What I mean by perfectionism as poison is that it can be debilitating to someone who (ehem, me) can’t move past the idea of every word being perfect so they don’t write anything at all. Or do anything. It’s a block to creativity for me and it can be absolutely devastating.

        It can also be a wall for sharing your work, if you can move past that initial phase of not doing. It can make you edit the life out of something trying to make it perfect instead of just “shipping.” A little bit of perfectionism (the shill for excellence as Kristen says) leading you to be awesome is okay, encouraged in fact, but letting it rule you, is not, in my opinion. Something I’ve struggled with for many years.

        And I totally agree, all these things, pride, perfectionism, anger are definitely all there for a reason, but that reason is not always a healthy one. It’s also a matter of degree. A little bit of anger is fine and natural – normal human behavior and response to frustrating or troubling situations. Throwing a temper tantrum at any age over 5 really isn’t (not that I would ever do such a thing as an adult). 😉

        We grow up learning all kinds of irrational beliefs and those beliefs are what lead us to act in certain ways. This is what the book deals with – recognizing those unhealthy beliefs and giving you the tools to change them if you want to. Great book.

        Jerkaholics first meeting this Saturday night at 8. See you there. 😉

        1. Hahaha.
          I think the key here is to remember that there is no “perfect” in art. There’s no bottom line.
          I do book keeping and in that you MUST be a perfectionist.
          But then again, in that, it is POSSIBLE to be perfect because, well, it’s just doing things right XD

          1. You make a great point. Yes, there are definitely some things you should strive for perfection in – bookkeeping is one of them.

            And yes, art – not so much. 🙂

        • JT on July 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm
        • Reply

        Gry, unless you are the rare exception, you’re not perfect, and passion for something is just that – passion. It doesn’t explain or excuse the systematic bad behavior – being a ‘jerk’ as the article calls it – and the challenge is to know the difference.

  28. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I don’t believe I can be both a successful writer and a perfectionist. Too many years later I’ve decided I’m done giving up on the writing dream, so perfectionism gets the boot. Like forgiveness, overcoming a lifetime of feeding the critical spirit at the heart of perfectionism is a process.
    I appreciate your ability to be real and transparent with your 10,000+ followers. You have helped me personally so much with countless blogs, WANACon, the classes I’ve taken from you, a free critique and the single phone call that blasted away an unworkable manuscript. Without your encouragement, I would not have my first novel out to beta readers and I would probably still be trying to make that doomed story work.
    From the bottom of my heart from recovering jerk to another – thank you.

  29. Thank you for this post, Kristen.
    Surprisingly I wasn’t surprised. It makes sense that a perfectionist would project things unto others.
    Without even wanting to I think you’ve just backed up every other post you’ve ever written about creating great characters – giving flaws that are sympathetic but still make the character do bad things.
    I love your blog because it inspires me to be positive. I’m not a very positive person but it has become better in the past year and for that I’m grateful. Still a long way to go.
    I used to write reviews and totally disagreed with you that authors shouldn’t do that. I mean, there are all the great internet reviewers that I’d LOVE to read the books by.
    But since they’re already there doing a great job I don’t need to.
    There’s always the easy or the hard road, and sometimes the hard road can seem easier because we let off steam and anger but letting that out can create new torrents.
    It’s not that we have to keep our anger hidden or never face others.
    It’s just that we can find a more constructive way to look at and say things.
    So thank you again.

    • Patty H. on March 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm
    • Reply

    I am a ‘yes’ woman. No gate, in fact no fences of any kind until a dear friend told me to use these words: “Let me get back to you on that.” Tape it on the wall, on your phone, on your computer.
    If the other person persists, repeat the phrase, no explanations or excuses. Then ask yourself, do I want to do this? How much time/energy/$$ will it take? Frame your answer before you get back to the other person. If the answer is ‘no’ I say, “This won’t work for me”. Period. If the answer is yes, frame it with the parameters that work for you.

    I feel so much more in control and dumped the (self induced) resentment. Hope this helps other yes people.

  30. Through my yoga practice I finally learned that we only have the present. This allowed me to stop bearing grudges for past wrongs. I learned to be in touch with myself and to face my fears. This allows me to accept myself — complete with flaws. There are many ways to learn these lessons – yoga worked for me. But we must learn them, or we will be the ones having the heart attacks fueled by anger. Excellent post Kristen — a lesson for me about the positive effect of being vulnerable.

    1. this is a great point about yoga. I have been practicing Bikram for several years but fell off the wagon for the better part of 18 months while I was working on getting the brewery open and then when I disappeared into the writing cave after that. but now, trying to get back into it I realize how very true this is Sandra. I get all “judgy” in the yoga room and have to just say to myself “surrender.”

  31. I love this post Kristen, you could have been talking about my family and me. I am a recovering jerk. My boundaries resemble the enclosures in Jurassic park at times, but I’m getting there. I still find it hard to make myself vulnerable enough to ask for critique, but I know I need it to grow as a writer. Thank you for ploughing ahead so we can see the furrows to walk in. Aroha to you.

  32. So many of your posts help me in life as well as writing. Kristen, I just want to thank you over and over.
    Sharing yourself the way you do makes me look at myself and I’ve learned so much about my own head because you’ve set me thinking. It’s like therapy!
    I have a throat infection right now and poor sleep is hampered by dreams of lagging book sales missed deadlines and unwritten blog posts.
    You’ve reminded me that it’s ok. I don’t, can’t and shouldn’t do everything. Particularly when just getting to the toilet at the moment involves crawling along the hallway.
    Failure is ok. Especially because I’ma stubborn idiot and I’ll just throw myself at it when I’m better.
    Failure isn’t falling. Failure is staying down.

    1. We overestimate how much others are paying attention, LOL. Feel better and take care of YOU. Now to take my own advice *slaps self* See? We all make a great team! 😀

      1. ^_^ thank you!

  33. I should also add… I don’t think I’m a jerk exactly but I have stopped with a hand over myself, haunted by something I said or thought that was excessively arrogant. :-S
    That’s a new development for me that I need to work on.

  34. Wow, Kristen. You hit really close to home with this one. I sooooo want to hug you right now. Thank you for sharing.

    I too am a recovering jerk & perfectionist. It took me therapy, meds, and years of work to overcome the need to make EVERYBODY happy. I still fear making mistakes. I still fight myself every time I sit down to write. The good thing is we can continue to make progress.

    Good luck to you and to all those who commented they fight perfection induced jerkdom also.

    By the way, I NEVER would have guessed you’d ever had a sharp word for anybody. You’re such a sweetheart. 🙂

  35. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” -Brené Brown

    Thank you allowing yourself to be vulnerable. It’s a terrfying thing to put out there all the parts of yourself that make you ashamed.

    As a recovering jerk myself, this post nearly made me cry. I came from a dysfunctional home and struggle with perfectionism and my sense of self-worth.

    Do you remember that scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Hermione swans in, smugly informs Ron that he has dirt on his nose before swanning out? That’s me. I’m a Hermione. It’s a part of myself I can’t stand. I have a high IQ and I’m a wannabe people fixer, which is a terrible combination. I tend to make people feel dumb in the name of “helping”. When I was younger, my friends looked to me as a source of knowledge and I felt very useful and therefore loved (ahh codependence). The trouble came when we got older and suddenly my advice was unwanted at best, or overbearing at worst. It’s hard to stop engaging in life-long behaviors, especially when a lot of my relationships were founded on that very behavior.

    Then another aspect came into play as those friends became frustrated with my inability to open up to them and let them know what was going on in my life. My best friend told me that being friends with me was like trying to scale walls. If my friends needed me, I was there, swooping in with advice, help and whatever was needed, SUPER CHRISTINA TO THE RESCUE. And then, nothing. Radio silence from me. When I needed them, I clammed up and said everything was fine.

    My husband put a stop that crap. He told me when I said everything was fine when it wasn’t, I was lying to him and he didn’t appreciate it. I thought I was protecting people from what I viewed as “my bulls**t”. I didn’t think my feelings mattered because I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s attention. There was that codependance again. I thought I was only worthy of love if I was useful to others and being vulnerable would make me a burden.

    Most days I was just exhausted with myself. I’ve gradually worked hard to be less of a jerk (it’s a lifelong work in progress) and I’m trying really hard to accept the gift of other people’s help and kindness. And to accept that failure will happen whether I control everything or not.

    I grew up being told that I wasn’t worthwhile if I bothered anyone.My grandmother was a narcissist who would literally turn up the television to drown me out when I tried to talk about my day. My job was do well (but not too well), smile even when everything hurt, lean on no one, never have relationships because everyone will let you down, and be worried always what everyone thinks of you. I was literally told every day, men will only let you down and use you, don’t bother with them. So I grew up terrified of men and relationships. I was single for the majority of my twenties and my grandmother constantly worried that I was a lesbian and didn’t understand why I wasn’t in a relationship. I could not win.

    Have you ever heard the Alannis Morrisette song, Perfect? It’s a perfectionist parent pressuring their child. You should. Or not. It might trigger you. It used to make me cry every single time I listened to it. The last line gets me, “We’ll love you just the way you are, if you’re perfect”.

    1. What a lovely reply from a fellow Hermione! I call myself Helpful Hannah and have learned not everyone needs fixing/help/advice and often resent it. I’m working at getting better at asking for help in return. I will work until I am dead to help others but when people say, “What can we do for you?” *BLANK STARE* Off to list to the song and THANK YOU!!! ((HUGS))

  36. I’m also a recovering perfectionist. One of my mantras this year is “Perfect is the enemy of good”—well, that, and “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.”

    I can admit to being a perfectionist more easily than I can admit to my other “vice”: envy. It makes me feel dirty and ashamed just saying it. Afflicted with terrible social anxiety, I envied my friends who could enter any social situation with ease. Recovering from a difficult childhood filled with uncertainty and trauma, I envied friends with families that seemed so blessedly normal.

    Eventually, I learned that we all have our baggage, our flaws, and our traumas. I learned to be grateful for what I have and to put more attention on building my strengths instead of fretting over my weaknesses. It doesn’t work every time but it works a lot of the time, and that’s saying something.

    Wonderful post, Kristen. Really got me thinking.

    1. My Super Christina says hi to your Helpful Hannah. It’s really hard to ask for help. It’s completely vulnerable. It requires you to allow others to take control, even temporarily. I used to read a lot of SARK and I know she’s woo-woo new age-y but I love her. She said something that struck me (I can’t remember which book) but it was along the lines of, give others the gift of allowing them to give to you.

      It was the first time in my life I ever considered that it was a bit selfish to not allow the people who love me a chance to help, support or give what they can. Love that flows in only one direction isn’t love, it’s a kind of narcissism.

      I’m glad you liked the song, it meant a lot to me as a kid. PS I highly recommend the SARK book “Living Juicy”. It’s designed for an affirmation a day, so its not too much self-loving hooey all at once. She talks all about being a recovering controller, a selfish giver and being a fearful little human being just muddling through.

  37. Your confessions seems to have hit home with many – me too. Although some of us grow and learn from our embarrassing action[s], as we age we have regret. Regrets abound and drag us down. Our egos keep them fresh like knives on skin. Try to forgive yourself and put energy towards your goals. I tell myself this whenever these thoughts come my way. I’m glad you shared so we all know we aren’t freaks but humans on a path. Now that you are free – may you continue to perfect yourself.

  38. the path is navigable – especially when others share the map. Thanks

  39. “I had no grace for myself, so how could I give that to others?” I think you’ve nailed it here – grace and humility are what make good relationships possible.
    And boundaries, instead of walls. Oh, the walls I used to have. (All right, still have in places!)
    Thanks for being brave enough to be vulnerable.

    • Gail Kushner on March 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply


    We are all here on a journey to discover ourselves. If you think you were a jerk, that’s one thing. The more important thing is that you realized what was going on and you learned a better way for you to live. You discovered a way which respected who you are and provided a model for others. There’s no point in beating ourselves up. As long as we are moving forward, we are fine. We are human. We make mistakes. We learn and move forward and (here’s the “woo-woo” part) all that we have learned in this lifetime, can be applied in our next lifetime.

    Take care.

    Gail Kushner


  40. The rest of it is good, too, but I was nodding my head as I read through the beginning – and reminded myself of some of those reasons for naming my WIP Pride’s Children.

    ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ for a reason.

    The good thing is that writing a novel usually cures you of perfectionism.

  41. For years I struggled with perfectionism, it hid the abuse of my marriage when I was out and about. I don’t miss that handicap at all. Sometimes I find myself still draw to hide the truth but then I remember, I am who I am and I’m proud of myself and my family. I still struggle with those who know better about how to run my life, but I choose to ignore them. Okay, privately, I may rant a bit but then I let it go. You have to forgive as you say to let the poison out of your system.

  42. The other side of people who won’t forgive you for things in the past is not forgiving yourself. Love what you say about letting it go – we are all human, we have all hurt others as well as them hurting us. Clinging on to guilt is as bad as anger.
    Like others have said, we need to put that in our novels!

  43. First time caller here. After reading your post, I switched over to my e-mail inbox and sent out four e-mails. The first said “No, I can’t help you with that,but here’s somebody who can.” Two said, “Not now, let’s talk at the end of April.” And the fourth I said OK to.

    Then I came back and read all the comments. I don’t think I’m a recovering jerk, but with reference to Alan’s comment . . . Kristen, have you developed a 12-step program?

    1. We should! And GO YOU!

  44. Excuse me, but I think you’re me, just with a different face and name.

  45. Reblogged this on Angela's Hub On WordPress and commented:
    Brilliant. I too am a recovering perfectionist, and jerk. Hard to admit it, but it’s so…

  46. Another Hermione here.

    Kristen, you humble me. You’ve shown me a mirror of things I need to pay attention to. I’m sending hugs and good thoughts your way. Your bravery and honesty are astonishing. And yes, you are perfect – just as you are. You’re a teacher, a leader, a person of humor, talent and possessor of an astonishing depth of compassion and kindness.

    And you’ve shown me that I need to take responsibility for myself.

    Hi, I’m Lara, and I’m a recovering jerk. Baby steps, always forward, and one day at a time.

    1. It’s been three days, ok three hours, ok *hangs head* three minutes since I was last a jerk, LOL. Boy, if we had our act together life would be dull, right?

  47. Great post! I’ve recently been realizing many of these same things about myself. And it’s work to forgive and love myself and learn and grow. Thanks for your bravery and generosity in posting this, and letting the rest of us recovering jerks know we aren’t alone.

    1. Definitely not alone ((HUGS)).

  48. Oh Ms. Kristen, say it ain’t so! You can’t be a recovering jerk?!?!?! I don’t people like that! And I you! So, therefore, you are not a recovering jerk! *nod nod* You might be a “Recovered Jerk”, meaning you’ve left that part of yourself in the past forever, but never still recovering. *stomps a foot, shakes the head, crosses the arms over the chest* I refuse to believe it! You’re too good a person…*stomps foot again* I have spoken and as reigning Queen of the Super, Duper, Secret Ninja Squirrel Squad, my word is law!!!!! (Sorry, letting my own inner geek out for the evening…)

  49. This is really well written – and I think having the courage to write this makes you *anything but* a jerk! 🙂

    1. Trust me, Honey. Ten years ago? I would have made fun of someone who wrote a post like this. YES, I want to go back in time and slap myself, LOL. But thanks God we can grow and change and aren’t doomed to remain the same, right?

      1. Oh Amen! Personal growth is one of the best things in life. Imagine if we were all doomed to be our selves 10 years ago, forever? The world would be a pretty gloomy place I think!

        The power of hindsight at our former selves certainly is a slap in the face 😛

    • Jessica on March 26, 2014 at 9:03 pm
    • Reply

    Wow. I’m in the middle of reading your book and thought I would check out your website. I’m glad I did. I’m struggling with a lot of the same issues and what opened my eyes was my mother’s recent death. I didn’t speak to her for three years and I realized that if more honest with myself, I may have enjoyed her last three years instead being a stubborn jerk. Great post!

    1. Much of our stubbornness is self-protection. Sorry for your loss, but no experience in life is wasted if we look for the treasures in the trial. ((HUGS))

  50. Kristen, You are my hero. You are so brave. So honest. And you care. Thank you for being you.

  51. This is amazing.. and touches me in so many places I’ve not been able to talk about as honestly as this – I’m not out the other side like you, but I’m aiming for it – thank you for being the change I want to see/be xxx

  52. Kristen, thank you. The terrifying journey away from perfectionism for me began when i hit bottom in Manhattan and landed up in the rooms of AA (though i was not an alcoholic — just a heavy smoker–go figure); i learnt (under massive fiery protest) to take personal inventory — what was brilliant about doing such a thing is that one takes both sides of the inventory — the positive and the negative — and one can step back and see what you need to drop, what to keep, etc. Powerful stuff that most shy away from. One of the sayings I heard during that time: PERFECTIONISM IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD. A perfectionist is generally deluded and miserable — because no such thing as perfection exists in a subjective world. Today i write a blog where i detail my own journey from the misery of perfectionism to a place where I am happy to be human — despite the suffering and the ups and downs — but what really helped bring me here was eastern philosophy. Your posts are great — keep ’em up!

  53. Reblogged this on Amos M. Carpenter and commented:
    Hats off and kudos to Kristen for baring her soul in a wonderful blog post. It’s quite lengthy but well worth the read, and I doubt anyone will be able to read through it without having a few of the truths hit close to home.
    The first step to improving a fault is recognising it. That makes you an “ex-jerk” in my book, Kristen 😉

  54. A great post, brave and honest! It’s hard opening up like that sometimes, but it does tend to feel better when we do 😀

  55. Hi Kristen, thanks for this post. Part of it came at the perfect time for me. Writing was always my main gift and my life’s ambition, but for years I relegated it while I got on with career and raising a family. In the past year though, I took the step of ‘coming out of the closet’ as a writer, got my work assessed, got down to a rewrite, dedicated myself to a path towards publication, and started a writing blog. Lately though I have had nothing but rejections as I try to get some writing credits under my belt, and my confidence has slumped to rock bottom. Your revelation that ‘failure … means we’re being brave, we’re trying, we’re daring to do something remarkable’ is what I needed.Trying and failing feels humiliating but it is better than not trying!

  56. I was really surprised by this post! You always come across as open and patient, honest and giving, so that’s how I see you. It was really brave of you to show your weaknesses AND how you address them. Made me take a moment to think about myself, my flaws, and how I present myself. Thank you so much!

    1. Oh, you should have met Phony Baloney Kristen. I look back and want to slap myself. I remember having pneumonia so bad I didn’t have the strength to get down the stairs to shop, but I was too proud to ask for help. My life was an epic mess, but I was there with all the answers how others could FIX THEIR LIVES if they would just listen to ME. So I had no friends, dismal savings, laundry up to my ears (hidden), dreadful boyfriends, and gossiped like it was an Olympic sport, LOL.

      1. It seems you’ve come a long way, and I’m glad to know you through your website, however casually. And if you’re happy, than it’s well worth the journey! I look back at my younger self, so insecure and unhappy and desperately needing someone to define her, and I’m glad I’ve left her behind. If we’re growing and moving forward, we’re doing it right. 🙂

  57. Wow, powerful stuff, Kristen. Are you sure you’re not a prophet? If you’d ever like to quit your day job and be a life coach, you’d be perfect. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m joining with you in the quest to defeat perfectionism and just say No now and then.

    1. The name Kristen means, “Anointed one.” Which technically means “smeared in oil” so that could be referring to my cooking *shrugs*

    • Laurie A Will on March 27, 2014 at 10:18 am
    • Reply

    Yes, I am shocked your are a recovering jerk! It’s hard to believe. But I think that is one of my favorite things about you, that you are willing share your flaws and failures. It makes everything you have to say seem more worth listening too. That fact that you’ve overcome your need to come as perfect is inspiring. I still struggle with that one. Although, lol! I’m fairly certain that I don’t come across as perfect to anyone! I have been struggling for the last several years with holding people to too high of standard. I have finally lowered them for others. I held them up to the same standards that I hold for myself, the same ones that I can never reach. I accept that I will never reach them. The problem is I am still having trouble making peace with that. I don’t know how to accept that I am never going to the perfect writer, super mom, the perfect wife and superhero all rolled into one. I can’t do it. Maybe no one can, but a lot people sure make it look like they’re doing it, accomplishing it all. Part of me still wants to be perfect. I can’t rid of the feeling that if anyone everyone finds out I’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, they’ll will think I am sucky stupid person. Maybe it comes from being picked on a lot as a child. I guess it doesn’t matter where it comes from. It is what it is.


    1. I think the media feeds this nonsense. Even the homes in magazines and movies have professional cleaners come in beforehand. VERY FEW people have homes so spotless and perfect and if they do they have a lot of money. Same with fitness or beauty. Many of the models and actresses, looking good is their JOB. It’s all they do. I feel we are often lacking in good reality. We have extremes of the Home Network vs. HOARDERS. What is the in-between?

      It wasn’t an easy post to write. But I notice a lot of people feel I am somehow wearing a superhero cape when truth is I tripped on it after I spilled breakfast on it, LOL. It’s good to feel safe and to know we all struggle and we all have grown and room to still grow. It’s life 😀 .

        • Laurie A Will on March 27, 2014 at 10:53 am
        • Reply

        I think it is the media and the fact that you have a large presence on the web, even though you tell of your mistakes and the struggles you’ve been through we still have a hard time seeing you as less than a superhero. But actually I think a true superhero isn’t flawless, but they help and inspire, that’s what you do. Where can I get one of those homes they show in t.v. shows and movies that despite having small children and busy lives their homes are always spotless? Once I find that then I want one of those jobs people have on the soap operas. You know, the ones where they show up when ever they feel like it, get vacations whenever they want, they always have enough money to pay their bills and despite how low on the pay scale their jobs are they can still afford designer clothing with shoes and purses to match. Sign me up for that!

  58. Thanks, Kristen. It was brave of you to open yourself up like that, only to find out so many others share in your perfectionism. It gave me some insight in dealing with the perfectionist in my life.

  59. After reading your post and the comments I wonder if perhaps we’re all middle children born with that need to please everyone. And the secret fear that we can please no one. Or maybe these characteristics are just typical of writers. Let’s face it, to be a writer (or any type of artist) I think you naturally have a big ‘drama queen’ gene. We tend to feel big – whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong, pretty or ugly. Perhaps we are the original bi-polars? Could be.

    For me, the boundaries issue is what I struggle with most. I can’t seem to figure it out. So I take it and take it and take it until I can’t take it anymore – and then the dreaded lashing out. But I’m getting better at finding the post markers, so there is hope.

    I appreciate your candor and honesty. I wish I were that brave.

    Thanks for this.


  60. I too was a former jerk. For me, it started because I was a geek who was ignored by my peers. Later, I became very good at something (surfing) and the praise started up. It was like giving a million dollars to a poor person who had no idea of how to manage money. The adults also served as my enablers and let my poor behavior slide because I was talented.

    It took a long term to realize that I was carrying around a poor attitude. I was very nice and polite but even that I saw was my way of manipulating people.

    Now I am completely different and when I tell people my story they just laugh. They can’t fathom the current me as being a former jerk.

    As many have put on their responses before me, self enlightenment and advancement are important in life. No one would want to be like they were ten or twenty years before.

  61. It takes guts to spill out your guts. Bravo. You write exceptionally well.

  62. This blog post is my life. I try to do everything right the first time and am ticked when it’s not. I hold grudges like it’s no one’s business. I have my weekly spurts of, “OMG I’m the family failure ARGH!” I feel like I have jerk tendancies so I over-compensate by trying to do everything to make EVERYONE happy, except for myself (obviously). I try every day to be a bit “better” and not so hard on myself, so while I’m certainly jealous that you’ve been able overcome it all, I know that it’s possible for myself as well. 🙂

    1. Dara I think you and I are kindred spirits. I have been there done that. I am so hard on myself it’s not funny.

  63. Definitely a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable, that people prefer knowing about my humanity.

  64. Are you sure we’re not sisters? I walked down that same road and wow does your adventure sound like mine. I still have trouble sometimes not being a perfectionist, not expecting/accepting only the best from everyone and everything around me. It really becomes hard as I’m trying to publish my work. When I dont get a lot of sales/comments/just feedback in general i start to worry and that brings out the jerk-face that believes because I may have ended a sentence in a preposition or didnt quite correctly build the proper grammar syntax that now I am a total failure.

    Like you its been a long road to recovery and in may places i’m still driving. Thx for sharing Kristen, that took a lot of courage to admit that to everyone and its refreshing to know that I as a person am not completely hopeless.

  65. Once again your post really resonated with me. Especially the part about anger and ringing the bell. I have always struggled to control my anger, and I am certainly guilty of ringing that bell over and over. I’ll be bookmarking this post so I can reread it whenever I need to.

  66. I love this. Excellent.

  67. Reblogged this on Montairyus and commented:
    Hey check on this post from Kristen Lamb’s Blog. Apparently by commenting on her blog and reblogging it on mine I could win getting my book critiqued on Kristen’s blog which, by the way, is really popular!

  68. Haha I struggle with perfectionism! Although, I don’t see anything wrong with trying to be perfect. And yes, if you try to only live with perfect people, you will be lonely! They don’t exist. Nothing on Heaven though…won’t be lonely there. Also, I reblogged this! Is that what you meant when you said to link it back to your blog on my blog? I’m a new blogger, btw….

  69. I used to be a huge jerk too so I can sympathize with this.

  70. I read this with tears in my eyes. I have, still am being trampled on. I worry if i cry, i might not stop. Best post

    1. Go ahead and cry. The only way out is through. ((HUGS))

  71. I’m in disbelief that I’m just getting to this post. Too much pride is a bad thing, but please appreciate that you turned your life around when so many do not. Further, posts like this one will help so many on both ends of these issues. Finding it within myself to forgive changed my life. Not forgiving and allowing the hurts to consume you is a self-administered poison. If you hadn’t made changes in your life we’d all be the worse for your absence. Multiply that times everyone who could contribute in this world and you have a powerful force. Ah, but then that’s WANA.

  72. I found you last week while searching for recommended blogs on the WordPress site and subscribed because your posts are reachable, touchable, and just plain home-hitting – this one especially. I’m going through a mid-life crap shoot at 61 – yeah, I plan to live a long time. I find myself succumbing to jerk reactions before thinking things through. It sucks and I’m working on a conscious mental check on a regular basis. I don’t have that svelte figure anymore, my jowls jiggle, my eyes droop, and skin tags form along my neck that resemble the Milky Way. The successes of friends my age grind at my less-than-stellar work ethic (well-crafted from years of mediocre job hopping).
    I keep the personal pity parties to a minimum, though. Yes, there is a mortality to life that I’m fast realizing approaches faster the older we get. No, I can’t go back and change things in order to make today better BUT . . . I can and do work at making today better than yesterday.
    One of my current favorite quotes is by Albus Dumbledore (the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

    • Brenly on March 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for this post! I can so relate. I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life. Seriously. I cried in 4th grade when I got a 99 instead of a 100 on a test. I took my own name down when appointed as the room monitor. I was that kid. But although I was always hard on myself, I was unbelievably easy on everyone else. A doormat. An angry doormat. Now I’m working to balance it out. Setting up fences with a smaller gate and prettier gardens inside. And learning that forgiveness is for me, not the other person and that it’s just as important to forgive my own flaws as to forgive others’. It’s a work in progress. But life is a work in progress, don’t you think?

  73. Thanks for the post, Kristen. I can relate to so much of what you are talking about. I have been a jerk before,and I probably will be again sometimes. I’m trying to be less ego-centric and more mindful of others’ feelings though because I don’t like hurting people intentionally or unintentionally. Thanks for sharing the insight into who you are and how you’ve overcome your past limitations.

  74. Reblogged this on Laura’s Word Press and commented:
    Forgiveness is still my challenge. I’m pretty good at not letting things get to me; I focus on how to move forward, rather than placing blame—perhaps to a fault. (I let too many people walk all over me.) But when someone acts out of malice, like the Godfather says, “This I do not forgive.” Of course, the offender doesn’t care and goes on his merry way, being an asshole. But my holding on to that resentment, that hurt, that anger only damages me, leaving me unhappy, closed off, suspicious, bitter, and sometimes a jerk. I need to learn to let go.

  75. It is really difficult to imagine you as a jerk.
    I have read at least four of your posts and in all of them you come off as helpful and nice.

  76. WOW. I stumbled across your blog, and the first thing I am greeted by is this wonderful post. I am in awe and amazement of the perfect timing this beautiful post of yours appeared right in front of me.

    I identify with every single one of the issues you discussed here. I am a recovering jerk. Every single one of these characteristics that flooded my persona converted me into a very selfish person. I, too, come from a family that, although not dysfunctional, made me feel highly inadequate growing up. I was constantly compared to my twin sister, and I constantly felt inferior. This, in turn, made me develop a wall to “protect myself.” I know exactly what you mean, and you are so right. WE ARE NOT ALONE. I struggled with perfectionism, the ridiculous need to impress others so that they would think I was better than them. I often found myself holding people at ridiculous standards, causing me to be very unhappy in relationships. I was never at peace. Most of all, I was afraid of being ME. I felt that the real me was not enough, she didn’t quite make the cut, and she needed to be better. I created this persona to “protect myself” and make me feel better; and although it superficially made me feel better about myself, I was never genuinely happy. Even worse, I hurt those around me who truly cared and loved me. My pride, my ego, my FEAR took complete control over me. I have no one but myself to blame, but I feel so grateful to have realized this. So I thank you for this beautiful post. I am a recovering jerk, and us recovering jerks can only go up from here. We are, and will always be, a work in progress. THANK YOU SO MUCH, and wow! What a great post.

    1. So happy it blessed you! ((HUGS)) Wonderful to meet you!

  77. Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Just beautiful. Thank you.

  78. Reblogged this on Elizabeth Anne Mitchell and commented:
    Since there doesn’t seem to be a twelve-step program yet, I will step forward to admit that much of Kristen’s post hit very close to home for me. Good afternoon. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a perfectionist jerk.

  79. Reblogged on with the comment: Since there doesn’t seem to be a twelve-step program yet, I will step forward to admit that much of Kristen’s post hit very close to home for me. Good afternoon. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a perfectionist jerk.

  80. This feels like you’ve been in my brain. I’ve always had a temper, and for a while even cultivated it as a way to control people. In college, I had a prof who made me see that everybody is somebody’s jerk. The question is whether one is a serial jerk or occasional jerk. And to be a more forgiving person, because we all experience “jerk surges.” Picked on in grade school, I once resolved to never be wrong again so I wouldn’t get picked on any more. Put that pressure on myself most of my life. All I can say is I thank God He led me away from these things….and apparently did the same for you. Thank you for the courage to share and touch so many of us!

  81. Hmm, not so much of the “recovering”. I still have jerk-tendencies. I get angry and lash out, I find it hard to forgive and am a perfectionist. When that side of myself appears I tend to shun anyone who has seen it because I can’t be around people who know that I can be like that (perfectionist, cares too much what people think etc). The internet is really bad for that, I find. It’s really easy to forget you’re talking to a real person, I can be far more blunt online than I ever am IRL. Thank you for being honest, perhaps there is hope for us all.

  82. Wow, I’m with other commenters. My heart goes out to you, Kristen — and to all of us. We ARE not alone, and I personally thank YOU for the lovely WANAcon where I FOUND you — and many other helpful, caring, creative people who reawakened my own creativity and bolstered my desire to climb out of the perfect hole I’d dug for myself. And for extending WANA to this wider space… the place where we live. I do know all about being that perfectionist jerk and at this very moment, using the vernal qualities of April (not the April Fool part), I’m just starting to blossom. Thank you for your candor and for your courage in sharing!

  83. Thank you for so eloquently detailing my deepest personality flaw. I, too, am an introvert, and know how horrifying it must have been to write this post. But it has helped me (and apparently many others, who have left great comments), so I appreciate it. Nicely done.

  84. Great post. Hahaha, and here I did think you were perfect. 😉 I have learned (and still am learning) that the problem isn’t failing. Failure becomes a problem if you’re not learning from mistakes and striving to improve. I’ve also had to learn that it does take more than one person to contribute to conflict, and to not let people bait or provoke me. It’s a process, and it can be a bumpy journey sometimes but it’s worth it.

  85. Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    Some good thoughts here.

  1. […] idea that we should turn the other cheek has surrounded me this week, from Kristen Lamb’s “Confessions of a Recovering Jerk” to my Enterprise rewatch to a phone call this morning with my […]

  2. […] of any personal agendas, but yeah. I try to keep my lying to my fiction. I even wrote a post Pride, Perfectionism and Anger—Confessions of a Recovering Jerk because I want all of you to know you are not […]

  3. […] Social media has SO many incredible benefits. Blogging has helped me grow as a writer and a human being. I’ve even been brave enough to write posts about—GASP—being a recovering jerk. […]

  4. […] spent most of my life tangling with perfectionism. For instance, it’s taken years to learn that I can accept a compliment with a simple, […]

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