Avoiding the Trap of Perfectionism: The Struggle with Enough

ditching perfectionismSo many of us struggle with “enoughness”.

Am I good enough?

Thin enough?

Successful enough?

Have I gotten enough done, said enough, tried enough?

Did I put in enough time, give enough, tip enough, work out enough, push myself enough?

Did I spend enough time at the office, on the yard, on my partner, on my kids . . . ?


Enoughness even gets in our way when we are trying to break the cycle of NOT being enough.

I don’t know how many women I’ve talked to, struggling to find time for themselves, who have poo-pooed the idea of a simple act because “that would never be enough. If I’m going to take time for me, I’d need more than that.” So, (as I point out), they choose to go without.

Going to bed a half-hour early, “wouldn’t make a difference.”

Ten minutes of focus on something important, “wouldn’t count.”

Ten minutes of walking around the neighborhood “isn’t nearly enough of a workout.”

So they choose nothing.

We’re also scared we won’t be satisfied with enough. A client tells me she is afraid to allow herself to really enjoy, indulge, and savor an excellent piece of chocolate. Because she is afraid she will gobble the whole bar. So she denies herself, feels deprived, and does end up eating the whole thing later—not in a savoring, indulgent sort of way, but in secret, feeling guilty and frustrated with herself.

“Did you enjoy it?”

“Not really, I don’t think I really even tasted most of it, I was so mad.”

Do you hear what’s going on?

It’s perfectionism.

Perfectionism is black and white thinking that lies to us that it’s a standard of excellence. What perfectionism really is is a standard of impossibility that paralyzes us, causes us to respond in the extreme, and never allows us to feel satisfied, effective, or good.

Escaping the trap of perfectionism:

All-or-nothing thinking hardly ever works. In your busy life, when do you ever have time for all?
What if you allowed what you really have to give to be enough? If this makes you nervous, add the phrase “for now.”

Small steps count. If you let them.

Small steps work. You can do amazing things for your spirit and your self in ten minutes. You can start to build new habits and routines. When you are consistent. When you allow yourself to be present. When you savor.

There IS a lot you can’t do in ten minutes. It’s true. And if you focus on that, you win the argument and you stay stuck.

Escaping the trap sometimes means letting go of your focus on “enough” and leaning into what you have.

Owning your time and being present in THIS moment.

Making deliberate choices.

The big question is this: where is perfectionism and the need for enough sucking you dry and wearing you out?

Consider this: what might change if you focused on changes that felt possible and do-able?

Drinking enough water every day.

Moving from no exercise to a ten-minute walk.

Eliminating multitasking when you eat.

Getting more sleep.

Breaking free of perfectionism means picking one or two actions—not everything on the list :-).

When it comes to being happy and successful, enoughness can be a big lie and perfectionism is a red herring. We are the choices that we make. How are you feeling about yours?

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