How To Stop Striving For Perfection

July 6, 2017

strivingDo you find yourself in a place where you are struggling to be perfect? You want to change, and yet you just can’t seem to stop the vicious cycle. You start out striving for excellence, after all – doing your best is a worthy and noble attribute, but somehow you end up on the other side, trying for perfection. Of course, we know perfection never happens, so we are left disappointed, exhausted, and missing what God had in mind. Join us as we look at how to stop striving for perfection.

The writing was on the wall, the people around me knew I struggled with perfectionism, but I refused to recognize it. God kept nudging me with experiences like those I mentioned in the prior two blogs. He got my attention when I was introduced to Martha in the Bible through a book called – Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World – By Joanna Weaver

Like Martha my heart and mind were in the right place, I sincerely wanted to please God, but somewhere along the way my excellence was always turning into a striving for perfection.

After reading the book and meeting some amazing women who I allowed to speak into my life, I began recognizing my tendency towards perfectionism. Sure, I made some small changes, but nothing significant until I felt the rug pulled right out from under me as we entered the world of mental illness.

Mental health challenges are not neat and tidy nor do the symptoms work on a schedule that fits one’s timetable.

With my children diagnosed with mental illness, it quickly became evident I would need to let go of perfection to survive. I would not only need to learn to accept my situation, but I would need to accept my imperfections. The need to do things the “right way” would need to be replaced with letting things be good enough.
It was a matter of survival, not just for my sake but for my children, my marriage, my friendships and the places that I served. I needed to preserve my strength for what was most important.

I had no problem making my kids my priority; they always had been. The problem came with the fact that I could no longer keep up with striving for things to appear perfect.

Of course at first, I felt overwhelmed. How did I honor my commitments? How would I keep things to the standard everyone had grown accustomed to seeing?

The grief, worry, sadness, struggle, skill learning, and caregiving consumed my time. My child was my priority! I no longer had the time nor cared whether I had carved the watermelon into a perfect fruit bowl for a party.

Why is that sometimes it takes a real shake up to see where we are broken?
It is now clear that people matter more than getting things just right.

You may not know the challenges of mental illness, but we all find ourselves in overwhelming circumstances at some point in life. When that happens, the way you used to do things may no longer be possible, and a new way of life emerges. I love what Lisa shares in her post, “Show up Imperfect.”

Circumstances sometimes force us into recognizing the things that we thought were our strengths are really our weaknesses.

When this happens, it will call for a new way to embrace the unexpected in life. One can’t go back and capture all the moments you missed while striving for something that was never attainable but we can start right now letting go of perfectionism.

striving
Free Printable – Click the document

Perfectionism robs you of the life God intended. For me, it took unexpected circumstances to see that letting go of “perfect” was a better way to live. Oh don’t get me wrong – I will always struggle with perfection to some degree. But when I see the warning signs, I know I have a choice. I admit sometimes I spend endless hours trying to find just the right picture for a blog post. I will always be a work in progress.

As you begin to let go of the need to be perfect – life will become more beautiful, sweeter, contain more freedom, and less stress.  My guess is you will begin to like yourself better and so will those around you.

Remember, you don’t have to let go of who you are and what makes you – You. I do still love to carve my food for special occasions into cute little shapes. However, once I learned how to stop striving for perfection, I realized other ways to entertain. When time is short, you will find me serving store bought ordinary items and feeling great about it.

 “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (ESV)

How do you stop yourself from striving for perfection?  

Blog Series on Perfectionism:


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23 Comments

  1. Reply

    Will You Expose Your Imperfections? | Embracing the Unexpected

    […] “How To Stop Striving For Perfection” […]

  2. Reply

    Brandi Raae

    These are PERFECT tips! Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup. Printing. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Brandi – I am so glad you found the tips helpful. Thank you for letting me know. Maree

  3. Reply

    Theresa Boedeker

    Great tips, Maree. I think I read that same book years ago, or one like it. I know having a child was wake up call number one that I was a perfectionist and I could no longer continue that job full time. Being a perfectionist, not being a mother LOL.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Theresa – I agree, being a mother kind of messes with attempting to be a perfectionist. Maree

  4. Reply

    jerralea

    I like the idea of focusing on what I have to be thankful for instead of what I did wrong!

    Great post, Maree!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      I agree! I honestly had never thought about gratitude helping with stopping perfectionism until I did some reading. I forgot to attach the website I found it on. I will try to add it this week. Blessings, Maree

  5. Reply

    Amy Hagerup (@amyhagerup)

    I love how you said that perfectionism robs you of the life God intended. So very true. Thanks for these reminders, Amy

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Amy – Thank you for stopping by. I am glad our minds think alike on perfectionism. Hope you are living the life God intended. Maree

  6. Reply

    Shannon

    Love these tips! I’ve always been a perfectionist, so I relate to a lot of what you are saying.
    I need to repeat the “Let good enough be enough” often!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Shannon – We have lots in common. I actually have it pinned up in my writing room and on my phone.

  7. Reply

    Alison Tiemeyer (@alisontiemeyer)

    This question caught my eye: Why is that sometimes it takes a real shake up to see where we are broken? I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days, and the only thing I can gather is that God meets us uniquely in the midst of pain and brokenness. Sometimes it takes months – years – to know how He has moved in our brokenness. I also love your tip to do the opposite of perfection. How perfect! 😉 I found you at Faith & Friends. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Alison – Thank you for being brave and answering the question. I imagine it could be different for everyone. I love what you said, “God meets us uniquely in the midst of pain and brokenness.” As I ponder that statement, I find it so true.

      Maree

  8. Reply

    Sheila Qualls

    Maree,
    Perfections is a killer. I have suffered from it for much of my life. I love the printable. Something I can hang on my bathroom mirror so it’s the first thing I face every day.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Sheila – I am so glad you like my printables. Great idea! I need the daily reminder too. I better print them for my mirror. Hope you are doing well and having a wonderful summer. Maree

  9. Reply

    Lisa notes...

    What a wonderful post, Maree! “I needed to preserve my strength for what was most important.” Don’t we all need that tattooed on our foreheads? Several of my family members struggle with depression and anxiety (and I deal with low levels of anxiety myself) so I understand the need to not spend our energies in the wrong places. I love your advice to “Do the opposite of perfect”! Thanks for sharing the link to my post, too. Blessings to you!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Lisa – Yes, with depression and anxiety all the more reason to save our energy for what is most important. I do have to say when I first started changing my ways some of my family didn’t like it. It was pretty funny. Thank you for stopping by and visiting. Maree

  10. Reply

    gogathergrow

    To answer your question, How do you stop yourself from striving for perfection…I don’t have an issue with that. When I was in the workforce, I used WordPerfect (dating myself, I know) for our word processing system and I was considered a Word Perfectionist as unused codes needed to be removed and everything just so. I’m long past that now. Not to say that I don’t produce work that is to my best ability, as I will read and re-read my drafts about 3 or 4 times before scheduling posts. But a perfectionist? No, I simply do my best in everything I do but I do not stress about it.

    Stopped by for a visit from Salt & Light Link Up.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      It sounds like you have it down. Doing our best is always a great quality to have and then to let it go and not be stressed is wonderful. That is my goal. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Maree

  11. Reply

    George

    great article

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Thank you!

  12. Reply

    vann54

    No mental health challenges are not neat and tidy and take their toll on you, your spouse, the siblings and just everyone – which is sad thanks for your encouraging words, hang in there, I personally gave up perfection after the fourth child who developed schizoaffective disorder in his late teens, this indeed helped me relax but not his siblings but they have come around and are supportive of him thank goodness

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Yes, the challenges of mental health do take a toll on everyone. However, I have also found many blessings along the way. I like myself a whole lot better. I am sorry your son struggles with a mental health challenge but thankful he has a support system. It makes a difference as you know.

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