One Simple Practice for Overcoming Perfectionism: A Space for Mistakes

Overcoming perfectionism is a life-long process that begins with letting go of false ideas about ourselves and God. But it also requires concrete, practical steps: and sometimes overcoming perfectionism starts with making mistakes.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who isn’t too bothered by mistakes in general—if so, this post probably isn’t for you 🙂 but if you’re a recovering perfectionist, this simple practice can be a game changer.

Perfectionists are afraid of making any mistake, however small, however much everyone else says, “no one will be able to tell!” or “you can’t even see it!” Because the perfectionist can tell. The perfectionist does see it. Every time.

And chances are, if you struggle with perfectionism, you don’t want to see the mistake because it reminds you of how not-perfect you are. 

Accepting your own imperfection is a journey. Let yourself be a beginner! And give yourself space to make mistakes.

Do you a have a space where it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes?

Not just in a metaphorical sense: an actual space that is mistake-friendly. 

If you want to write or draw, get yourself a notebook or sketchpad that no one will ever see.

If you’re an athlete, give yourself a room or a field where no one is looking.

If you’re an aspiring chef, don’t invite anyone to dinner.

Call your space The Mistakes Space, and make it your goal to make mistakes with peace. 

Yes, that’s right. Don’t make your goal writing well, painting beautifully, swimming gracefully or cooking flavourfully. Doing the actual thing is not the goal. Making mistakes while doing the thing is the goal. Above all, making those mistakes with peace.

When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, tell yourself, “I’ve achieved my goal. On to the next mistake.”

Perfectionists experience an innate disgust at making mistakes, and the only way to get over it is to just start making them! It’s a simple practice, but one that will make your journey to overcoming perfectionism a lot easier.

So begin by creating an actual space for it, where you get used to making mistakes while no one is looking. By purposefully permitting mistakes—even welcoming them-—you’ll allow yourself to replace the habit of harsh perfectionism with the more gentle pursuit of goodness.