Letting go of perfectionism

Bryant Golden Blog

While we know that true perfection doesn’t exist, many of us spend our days trying to reach it. While working hard and putting in effort can be a good thing, living life with a mindset of perfectionism can be (and often is) destructive. 

So, what are some ways that we can let go of perfectionism? And what does the Bible say about letting go of perfectionism? Here’s an overview of perfectionism, including some ways to let go of it. 

What are some signs of perfectionism?

  • Setting unrealistic goals for yourself and being upset when they are unreachable. 
  • Consistently procrastinating.
  • Having an intense fear of failure.
  • Being overly ambitious. 
  • Struggling to relax or rest.
  • Displaying difficulty being “second best” or not being first.
  • Struggling to look past small mistakes. 
  • Being highly critical of yourself. 
  • Displaying negative self-talk. 

What are some ways to let go of perfectionism?

  • Set achievable goals for yourself. When you set goals for yourself that are achievable and realistic, you’ll likely be less stressed trying to reach them. A great way to do this is by making sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound). 
  • Realize that nobody can be perfect all the time. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself grace — none of us are perfect, and we’re not meant to be. 
  • Recognize that mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. We all make mistakes. Instead of being hard on yourself about them, realize that they are nothing more than an opportunity for improvement in the future. Celebrate your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about them. 
  • Resist negative self-talk. While we all get frustrated with ourselves from time to time, speaking negatively about ourselves can significantly affect how we view ourselves. You can help yourself let go of perfectionism by speaking about yourself in a more positive way. 
  • Invest in your happiness. Whether you enjoy painting, reading or exercising, spend time working on hobbies that you love. Investing in your own happiness is one of the best ways to let go of perfectionism. 

What does the Bible say about letting go of perfectionism?

  • We have been called to let go of perfectionism. Because we have been saved by grace, we don’t need to try to be perfect all the time. We can’t get into heaven by how hard we work or how perfect we are. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV). 
  • It’s OK to struggle sometimes. In fact, we should count our weaknesses as strengths instead of striving for perfection 24/7. God’s grace and power are amplified and made perfect in our weakness. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV). 
  • We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and we shouldn’t pretend to be. “For we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2 ESV). 
  • We cannot achieve anything without the help of Christ. While it’s human nature to try to be as self-reliant and independent as possible, even our best efforts are useless without God’s power. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:27 ESV). 
  • We can come to God when we are tired, and He will provide us with rest. We don’t need to try to handle life on our own. When we’re burned out or overwhelmed, God can give us comfort and rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 ESV). 

What’s the bottom line?

While striving to be the best version of yourself is a good thing, holding on to perfectionism is not. A mindset of perfectionism can be destructive because none of us can reach perfection all of the time. The Bible calls us out of perfectionism and into God’s grace and love for us. When we are burdened and overwhelmed, He will give us rest.