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Letting go of Perfectionism

Posted May 23, 2017 by Valarie Bittner M.A. CPC

Letting go of Perfectionism Perfection is an impossible goal. The pursuit of perfection leaves us feeling fearful, self critical, and disconnected from others and the activities we love. Pursuing perfection can creep into many areas of our lives such as appearance, school, career, hobbies, relationships and just about any area of life! When we choose to let go of pursuing perfection, we can embrace compassion, courage and connection with others.

The problems of chasing perfection
When we chase after perfection, no effort is ever good enough and we’re left feeling self critical and discouraged. No amount of effort or achievement will allow us to feel proud of our accomplishments or content with our outcome.

When we're feeling self critical, we can begin to become fearful that others are seeing our imperfections and criticizing us as well! The perfectionist might fear others harsh judgements, and keep themselves from trying something new, or engaging in an activity they love for fear of making a mistake to be noticed by others.

Perfection is part of the illusion that "If I'm perfect then everyone will approve of me, and I will be happy." Chasing after perfection interferes in meaningful connections with others. What the perfectionist (and all of us) really wants is to be accepted by others without having to perform at all. Seeking acceptance from others by doing trying to do things perfectly defeats this goal.

The benefits of accepting imperfection
When we let go of chasing perfection, we can embrace courage by speaking openly and honestly about what we might be feeling, and about our experiences. It takes courage to risk being vulnerable or disappointed by being honest with ourselves and others.

Letting go of the pursuit of perfection allows us to practice compassion towards ourselves and others. When we encounter pain, our first instinct is often to self protect, by looking for something or someone to blame. We attempt to "shield" ourselves by going into "fix-it" mode in an attempt to ensure it never happens again. When we choose compassion, we can accept the imperfections of ourselves and others.

Letting go of chasing perfection allows us to connect with others in meaningful way! Connection happens with someone when we feel seen, heard and valued. This can only happen when we are willing to be vulnerable by being honest.

"Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight." - Brene Brown