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Releasing Perfectionism | Finding Peace With Less Than Perfect

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Have you ever heard of a “recovering perfectionist”?   The term “recovering alcoholic” is a bit more recognizable than “recovering perfectionist” but the premise behind them both is the same.  In “Alcoholic Anonymous” classes people are taught to refer to themselves as recovering alcoholics. The reason for this is to help them remain aware of the fact that, no matter how many days sober they may be, one drink can easily lead them back to alcoholism. This is how I currently feel about my recovery from perfectionism.  Even though I have learned to release a great deal of perfectionism in my life. It is still a lingering temptation that I’m often challenged to give into.


I grew up with a perfectionist parent, who was also an authoritative parent.  That means that my parent had extremely high expectations and demanded nothing less than perfection, particularly in the area of academics.  Growing up, it was not acceptable for me get a “C” on anything and a “B” was still considered to be sub standard performance.  Even when I brought home an “A” that was less than 100% I was often told “you did okay, but you could still have done better”.  As an adult, I don’t play the “blame game” and hold any animosity against my parent for their own perfectionism that influenced their rearing of me.  However, I do understand how it shaped a perfectionist mindset in me.

I used to wear my “perfectionist” badge proudly.  Because it had the word “perfection” in it, it sounded good to me! However, during my years as a Psychology student, I learned just how detrimental perfectionism can be.  It can actually paralyze your life and cause you to be consistently unhappy with yourself.  Perfection is about feeling displeased and dejected with anything this is not absolutely perfect: your  job performance, your relationships, your finances, your body, and even other people around you.  The fact is that NOTHING is ever perfect in life, so a perfectionist quite is often unhappy with most things in their lives because of this.  When I realized how perfectionism was actually toxic in my life, I made the decision to begin releasing it.  I can tell you that, it is not an easy thing to release.  Every day I am presented with the choice to either do the best I can and accept it, or to feel like I am inadequate because I did not achieve perfection.

Yesterday I was tested literally and proverbially.   I completed a test for a course that I am taking and I got 29 out of 30 questions correct. The total score was 97%.  Although I passed the academic test with an “A”, my proverbial test kicked in the minute I saw that 97%.  Feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and even failure started creeping up inside of me.  I didn’t want a 97! I wanted a 100%! Then I clearly heard The Creator’s love speak to me: “Ivy if you are going to coach people in being loving to themselves, here’s YOUR test to do it first”. Yep! It was a case of “walk the talk” right in front of me.  So I decided not to retake the test (although it was an option to do so and keep the higher grade) and to celebrate my big fat 97%. I embraced my imperfection as being perfectly fine. 

Do you ever find yourself feeling like you are never enough? Are you often unhappy with yourself because you feel like you should always be perfect? Do you put down on yourself for small errors or imperfections? Is perfectionism holding you hostage from being truly happy with your body and yourself?  When we put in our BEST effort with the best intentions, we have a right to feel satisfied and happy with the results.  I invite you to join me in becoming a recovering perfectionist.  Consider releasing the need to be perfect and embrace your flaws as part of the beauty of life! I know for sure that you will experience more Peace and happiness in your journey.

Just in case you don’t know if you are a perfectionist or you are possibly in denial, here is a convenient online test from Psychology today to help you find out: http://sbls.info/1epKlDp

I’d love to hear from you either in the comments below or you can email me about your feelings: [email protected]

Source of featured image: http://www.seventeen.com/health/tips/demi-lovato-hub



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Ivy Cooper, The Body Relationship Coach™ is a professional health coach and body image expert. She offers education, empowerment, and encouragement to help people build health, loving relationships with their body and self.
  • Lakesha Brown

    Girrrrl, great minds think alike! I guess we both were thinking this content is much needed right now! I’m publishing part 2 of my perfectionism series next week and will include your article as a resource! *high 5s* :)

    • / Ivy LaArtista

      Thank you for reading Kesha! I’m so glad that this resonates with you. I’ll be looking out for your series.

  • Alexandra Elizabeth

    Great post. I am a perfectionist and it sucks. I overthink and overthink and overanalyze. It’s crippling and I hate that I can’t just make a decision or need to be so into the details. I’m working on letting go more but it’s not easy.

  • Pingback: Can You Celebrate Your Imperfections? | See Body. LoveSelf.™()

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