There’s nothing quite like motherhood to bring out the perfectionist in us. But as a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned perfectionism is a losing battle with detrimental effects. All the more reason to stop trying to be perfect.
3 Good Reasons to Stop Trying to Be Perfect
Perfectionism Breeds Discontentment
I’ve been thinking a lot about hope this week. Especially how I tend to live without it.
What I mean by that is I’m so used to waiting, and waiting and waiting and waiting, but without the desired results. There are at least two issues with this:
- I stopped waiting expectantly.
- I fell into a pattern of judging my life by results.
This means I’m always left wanting which is a breeding ground for discontentment and discouragement.
Do you know how tiring it is to always be disappointed?
After some soul searching, I realized that beneath all of the disappointment lies perfectionism.
When I talked to Matt about this I told him I was surprised. I thought I’d left perfectionism behind. He said I probably did on some level, that this is just a different facet of it.
I told him I don’t know how to not be a perfectionist. It’s so deeply rooted. It’s my heritage. Of course, I did look up ways to overcome it. I read tips like practice gratitude, focus on the present, and let yourself make mistakes.
I can do that. But those seem like such outward approaches. I want to be sure I get to the root of this and heal the part of my soul that uses perfectionism as a coping mechanism.
Anyway, once I recognized my problems with perfectionism, I realized I’ve been on a desperate quest for the ideal.
- Creating the ideal morning routine.
- Having an ideally decorated home.
- Wanting an ideal body.
- Chasing an ideal lifestyle.
Perfectionism Leads to Missed Moments
Earlier today while my Mom and I were running errands, we drove through the school zone at the 9th grade campus Hannah went to. My heart ached. I found myself longing for for those days with her here, waiting for her to get home from school. It’s ironic considering that while I was in the middle of living that stage of life, I wished it away.
I did the same thing with Hannah’s room; wishing away this transition season where she is a college student living thousands of miles away and only uses her bedroom a few weeks out of the year.
The good news is, I think I came to terms with this season the other day. I don’t know what shifted in me (it’s like my soul knew I didn’t need the room to be perfect, just ready for her when she comes home), but I woke up ready to put her room back together.
So, I vacuumed, made the bed, and tweaked the furniture arrangement. Now when I walk past her bedroom and see the freshly made bed, I feel a sense of relief and even some measure of peace. The funny thing is, that’s what I thought perfection would bring me.
Perfectionism Hinders Progress
My soul is still unraveling this revelation, but what I keep coming back to is this. Perfectionism:
- makes connection and intimacy difficult
- keeps me from being seen
- blocks creativity
Connection, recognition and creativity are all things I long for, but striving for perfectionism made them impossible to achieve.
You might be thinking “that’s great, Sharon, but how do I stop trying to be perfect?
How to Stop Trying to Be Perfect
- First, acknowledge that nothing and no one is perfect. It’s a great reminder that perfection isn’t achievable.
- This next tip is what my husband would call exposure therapy. (He’s a counselor.) Let yourself fail. It’s more than okay to make mistakes. In fact, I believe mistakes are a necessary part of personal growth and reaching our goals.
- Try new things. If you get performance anxiety (hand raised) it likely stems from perfectionism. So, let yourself be a beginner. Take joy in learning a new skill.
- Address what causes perfectionism. Perfectionism is rooted in insecurity which is rooted in fear. And this holds us back from being fully who we are and shining our lights. We’re not meant to live a timid life. Prayers, scripture, meditation, journaling, and counseling are all good ways to meet your deeper needs.
We’re not going to be perfect at trying to stop being perfect. We will fall into our old patterns, especially while we’re in the throes of motherhood, work or both. The good news is now we’re better equipped to recognize it and shift gears.
Wishing you the peace of imperfection,