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Giving Up on Perfectionism

by Cathy English
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As far back as I can remember, I have struggled with perfectionism.

I have lived in fear of failing. I needed to be perfect. Anything less than perfection just wasn’t good enough.

For most of my life, perfectionism colored my every decision. I wanted to be the best – the perfect daughter, student, friend, you name it. I was devastated when I received my first “B” in college. And, we won’t even discuss the first “C”.

When I married, I would work myself silly trying to be the perfect housekeeper, wife, and eventually mother. I constantly worried that I wouldn’t be the best mother possible and that any mistake might warp my children forever. Honestly, it wasn’t a very happy way to live.

And it pains me to say that getting Fibromyalgia is probably the only thing that could have caused me to finally deal with this problem of being a perfectionist.

Perfectionism is no longer an option in my life.

Since I never know what I will feel like from moment to moment, much less day to day and week to week, I’ve finally had to accept each moment as it comes, for whatever it brings, for whatever it is.

Letting go of being perfect hasn’t been easy and I still struggle with the idea, even though I never was really perfect, just always striving for it.

It all really boiled down to pride. And, fibromyalgia will cure you of pride about as well as anything I know. It humbles you.

You have to rely on others to do the things that you once would have done, because no one could do it better than you. You have to let go of getting everything done just right and be happy with good enough or maybe someday.

And, more than anything else, Fibromyalgia makes sure you cut down to only the absolutely necessary things in your life.

No more do I have the energy to spend hours making sure my pantry is perfectly organized, with every container labeled and a complete list of supplies needed for any occasion. Now, it’s just good enough to make sure I have a few canned goods on hand in case I need a quick veggie.

I cannot allow myself to stress over a house that’s not perfectly clean and tidy at all times. Now, I content myself if I can get to the dusting every few weeks and keep the doghair bunnies from growing to gigantic proportions (or to the point where I will have to name them).

As long as the kitchen is cleaned once a day and the toilet is swished every once in a while, then it’s good enough.

No longer do I make sure that everyone on the Christmas gift list gets a beautiful handmade gift. After all, isn’t it the thought that counts?

But, just in case you think I’m totally cured of my fear of being less than perfect, you can think again.

It still sneaks up on me from time to time. I begin to compare myself with someone who’s prettier, smarter, more organized…yada, yada, yada…than me.

But, it’s getting better. I’m learning to laugh at myself more. After all, what else can you really do when you put orange juice in your coffee when you’re in the midst of a severe brain fog.

In the process of learning to let go of my perfectionism, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way:

  1. If you reduce the knick-knacks on the counters and shelves, you can drastically cut your dusting efforts.
  2. It doesn’t hurt to let your family members take care of their own laundry. And if it’s your child, you’ll be doing them a huge favor when you teach them how to take care of their own clothing.
  3. Ditto for their bathrooms and bedrooms.
  4. A robotic vacuum cleaner was truly one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
  5. A quick spray of Method Daily Shower Spray Cleaner after each bath/shower means I hardly ever have to really scrub the tub.
  6. Tan floors show less West Texas dirt than dark brown ones. This doesn’t work for carpets, though.
  7. Do the dishes after every meal, so it doesn’t become a huge job. Learn to love your dishwasher. (And, paper plates are okay, occasionally.)
  8. Don’t be ashamed to let things go a little. No one ever died wishing they’d done more housework.
  9. If you don’t need it, use it or love it, let it go…
Good enough has now become my mantra. And, you know what? I’m actually a lot happier now that I don’t have to be perfect.

Good enough is good enough.

Do you have any tips for ways to live a simply good enough life? Have you struggled with perfectionism? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

You can find some of my other strategies on the Fibromyalgia Strategies page.

Until we meet again, here’s a virtual hug for you!

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