Home > Life Lessons, Personal & Spiritual Development > Letting Go of Perfectionism

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net (c) Daniele Pellati

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net
(c) Daniele Pellati

Everybody strives to be perfect in one way or another. We strive to have the “perfect” friendships, family, job, hobbies, etc. We also strive for perfection in our actions.

As a society we encourage and even demand not only perfection, but also that individuals constantly “reach for the stars”, and have “go big or go home” attitudes. However, the problem with this type of mentality is that many of us end up constantly feeling as if we are failures because we haven’t reached the stars, or we didn’t “win” somehow.

At its core, perfectionism is rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy. While we may strive to appear perfect to the external world, what a perfectionist is really doing is putting a nice façade on inner wounds, insecurities, and feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. This is why so many perfectionists have a hard time keeping friends, dealing with criticism, or even taking advice from other people without thinking that it is a personal affront.

The truth is that there is no such thing as “perfect”. If we constantly strive for perfection, we will just end up being a perfect mess.

Everybody makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret. I can’t tell you how many times I have came down too hard on my son, said something stupid or insensitive to my wife or a friend, lost my temper, or just flat-out failed at something… all in the past week. The key is to not dwell on the mistakes or imperfections of life. We should strive to learn from our mistakes or missteps, and try not to repeat them. Beating ourselves up over stumbles and missteps only contributes to feelings of being a “failure”, or somehow “not good enough”.

Don’t be so preoccupied with living the perfect life that you end up living a perfect lie. Don’t allow what others view as perfect dictate your life path. Pursue what makes you happy, live the life that you want to live. Live an authentic life.

Let go of trying to be perfect, and focus on just being the best person you can be. Let go of the past, and don’t dwell on mistakes: learn, live, and love (especially yourself). Learn to live in the now, and enjoy life, including all of its imperfections.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this piece, please subscribe to this blog, and share it with others.

Also, please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click the Book Cover to view on Amazon.com)

  1. November 8, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    These are good thoughts.

  2. November 8, 2013 at 9:00 AM


    A craving for perfection can be appropriately viewed as a major cause of suffering. Perfection is an unobtainable goal that can hinder the real transformative progress that can be made in Buddhist practice.

    In the Pragmatic Buddhist tradition the word ‘perfection’ is creatively re-described as ‘refinement’. Most notably in the “Six Perfections” does this change in wording have a powerful effect. A practitioner is always in the process of refining themselves as a human being, refining their actions of generosity, morals/ethics, acceptance, energy, wisdom and meditation. Each thought and action is directed toward a Noble Path to improvement.

    I bow with respect,
    Wayne Ren-Cheng

    • November 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Excellent points, and thank you for sharing. I really like how changing “Six Perfections” to “Six Refinements”, really changes the perspective and goal from an unobtainable goal, to an ongoing process.

  3. November 8, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Reblogged this on Lavender Turquois.

  4. November 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Reblogged this on Soul Fields.

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