3 Ways to Let Go of Perfectionism

Start by distinguishing between healthy self-improvement goals and toxically high standards.

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Posted in , Oct 3, 2019

Letting go of perfectionism

In her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown writes, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s 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 flight.” 

How can we set down that heavy shield and move toward our goals with peace and positivity? Here are three ideas to try.

1)  Change Your Objective
People who are shooting for accomplishment are not only often disappointed, they also fail to notice the many opportunities for success and growth that lie between “failure” and “perfection.” To release perfection as your goal, shift your focus to signs of progress, reassuring yourself that each step toward your goal is a positive one.

2)  Practice Self-Compassion
Perfectionists hold themselves to high standards, and when they fall short, they turn a judgmental eye on themselves. Is this helpful? Not even a little. Instead, try to see yourself with the same empathetic view you’d take if a close friend was struggling to meet a goal in their life. You’d be kind to that friend—why not be kind to yourself?

3)  Be Authentically Positive
Living with authentic positivity is a balm against the toxic pressures of perfection. Brown writes, “Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect…. Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”

Do you pressure yourself with perfectionism? What helps you dial it back?

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