March 25, 2011

Perfection – Can You Let Go?



Louvre - Venus de Milo photo by Sara Hawkins ARR

Remember when you were a kid and could find any reason to sing or dance, make up a show for your family or sit and create just about anything. All without the worry of whether or not it would be “good enough”. You did it because it made you feel good and brought you joy.

When was the last time you were able to do this? In my work-homeschool-house maintenance-blogging-cooking-driving around busy days I can’t remember the last time. Sure I can be found singing along to songs in the car – if I’m alone. Which is rare. Evidently my singing is not what one might refer to a ‘ready for prime time’. Or so I’ve been told by one very opinionated 8 year old. So I sing when I’m alone. Sometimes.

I’ve been working on the concept of ‘letting go of perfection‘, but it doesn’t come easy. And part of it is that I don’t think there is anything wrong with striving for perfection. It’s when perfection becomes debilitating that it’s a problem. And when you can’t find enjoyment because you’re worried about disappointing others.

We want to please. Ourselves, our spouse, friends, kids, family, neighbors, supervisor, people we just meet, and so on. Often these perfectionist tendencies start in childhood. I know that’s where it started for me. And it only became amplified as time has progressed.

I remember watching Saturday Night Live back in the 80s when Phil Hartman did the anal retentive chef skit. I sat watching it thinking “this is funny and so overboard”. Until someone said that would be me in a few years. Ouch! I wasn’t that bad. But I obviously had the reputation that made someone associate me with this over the top skit.

Within the past six or so weeks a number of discussions have focused on this idea of letting go of perfection. Amy Chua became the poster mom of what’s wrong with asking for perfection in your children. Her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” was met by much criticism. It generated a lot of backlash as well as support not only within the Asian community but as women of other ethnic backgrounds set out to put their spin on the issue of getting your kids to do what you want them to do.

I work to let go of perfect because it does stop the flow of creativity sometimes. It silences laughter. When it shouldn’t. It creates a thin smile instead of an ear to ear grin. It brings on self judgement that no longer needs to exist.

Many people love us for our imperfections. It is often these imperfections that, in fact, make us attractive to others. But when you’ve been raised to believe that nothing less than perfect is acceptable, how to you stop believing and let go of perfect?

For me, letting go of perfect means not beating myself up when something doesn’t go as planned. Over the next several weeks I’m participating in a webinar series about letting go of perfection. I’ll keep you updated as I go along. I want to vet it before sharing it with you. Again, the perfectionist part of me. I don’t want to give you a suggestion that won’t do what it’s supposed to do.

What does letting go of perfect mean for you?




Kate @ Songs Kate Sang March 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Letting go of perfection… means setting an example for my children. Accepting and loving who I am, flaws and all, so that I can love them fully ~ without being obsessed about what I did wrong and when and why.

Sara March 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

Hi Kate!

I appreciate you sharing how you’re trying to let go of perfection. I think part of it is having supportive friends who love us no matter what!

~ Sara

Honey March 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm

What a perfect topic. I was just discussing this the other day on twitter. Letting go of perfection means that I do my best because if I am doing my best that is all I can do. I will do my best and if it isn’t good enough that’s okay (I am still working on that part).


Sara March 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

Honey, thank you for sharing what perfection means to you. You’re setting a great example for your kids too! ~Sara

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