Letting Go of Perfectionism

In my former life, I was a rabid perfectionist. Swirling around inside my head were images (where did they come from?) about the way reality was supposed to be. These images centered around home life, career, church, other people, and myself. The only trouble: reality seldom, if ever, conformed to my idealized mental images and expectations. And try as I might, I could not force or control or change reality into conforming to my standards. Eventually, I began to expect disappointment, which I always got, thus setting myself up for depression, anxiety and frustration.

Even worse, I rarely lived up to the perfectionist ideals I set for myself. My words and actions never matched what I should have done or said. Consequently, I spent inordinate amounts of time berating and demeaning myself for circumstances beyond my control. I obsessively measured myself against my perfectionist ideals and invariably came up lacking. Again, causing myself needless frustration and bitterness.

Perfectionism is not a healthy way to live.

Eventually, I gave in to an imperfect world and imperfect self. The truth, as I see it now, is that reality is supposed to be imperfect! Life is difficult so that I can grow. And as for myself, giving up false expectations about myself is possibly the best thing I've ever done to raise my self-esteem. I learned how to forgive, to accept, to be compassionate, and to see other perspectives beyond my own nose.

Surrendering to an imperfect universe freed me to simply enjoy life as it unfolds. Accepting my personal limitations freed me to be comfortable with myself and freed others to be comfortable around me. There is tremendous power and serenity in surrendering and accepting. There is a lasting joy and happiness living in the present moment, without expectations, without filtering people or events through idealistic, judgmental attitudes.

There is much beauty (and even perfection) in people and things just the way they are. Just being aware that life is beautiful and good and acceptable goes a long way toward curing the unhealthy desires I used to feel compelled to fix, change, control, coerce, and alter.

For me, letting go of perfectionism was a giant leap along the path to lasting serenity.

continue story below

next: Becoming Whole

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 7). Letting Go of Perfectionism, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info