Striving For Perfection: 10 Ways You Can Stop Feeling Guilty

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“I feel so guilty”

As different as I sometimes feel from my parents, we are essentially the same and there is this huge fight for perfection. Guilt seems to creep into every area of our lives.

I am going through what I like to call a ‘life-stage’ where I am feeling guilty for everything–not Twittering enough, not putting up a post fast enough, not seeing my sisters enough.  At the same time, I am un-enjoying things I used to enjoy!  NO MORE!!!!

Here is my new mantra: We are not perfect, we do not need to be perfect. I love my parents for all of their imperfections (barely any) and perfections. For myself and both parents and teens reading this, it is time to dump the guilt and realize if you do your best, that is the best!

“My ___isn’t good enough”

1. Nobody is Perfect

This one is obvious, but true, even the mother who seems to always have the perfect hair, with the perfect sweater and the perfect husband–NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE. Do not try to live up to a standard that does not exist.

“I am always juggling.”

2. Embrace the Juggle

I know this sounds weird, sometimes just being honest with yourself about how much craziness or turmoil is in everyone’s life can be a relief. I know that thursday’s are a crazy day for me. Always, no matter how much I plan or how much I do, they are always really busy with my regular clients. Once I finally embraced it, I stopped having anxiety about it.

“There is so much pressure to be perfect!”

3. Embrace Your Strong Points

Just because you are not perfect in something does not mean you are not great at something else. Always remind yourself of your strong points. Put a post-it note on your desk reminding you, have a self-esteem buddy or read this post again!

4. Un-Chore Your Chores

It is hard to enjoy washing the dishes, but I do like the hot water and I got great smelling dish soap. I have tried finding more happiness in everything I do and realize this makes me a happier person.

5. Happiness Greatest Gift You Can Give

If you are deciding between baking extra cupcakes for the bakesale or taking a breather.  Do what makes you happy, I promise your kids will appreciate you being happier than the extra cupcakes.  If you are like me, you push yourself to breaking point and then have a mini-crash and then restart.  I realized that it is much better for everyone in my life including me, to maybe move a little bit slower.  I might be less efficient, but I am much more pleasant.

6. If You Are Not Perfect No One Breaks

Ok, so I’m late putting up a post, maybe a little slow returning an email, everyone will be OK.  For parents: we are not teacups, we do not break that easily, and again if you are happier we usually don’t even notice small imperfections.

7. It’s a Bad Message

When we see our parents trying to be perfect, we grow up feeling we also need to be perfect.  If you are unhappy your kids will learn to be this way as well.

“I want to be good at everything I do”

8. Stop Talking About Being Perfect

Don’t be tempted to talk to other moms or friends about the perfection in your life.  I like to call it ‘one-up talk.’  If you feel yourself engaging in a one-up conversation, politely disengage, these are depressing.

9. Talk More About the Pressure

Parents talk to me constantly about these feelings of inadequacy, guilt and the need to be perfect in a hushed voice like it is a big secret.  Everyone feels this way, I feel this way, it is hard there is pressure from everywhere.  I challenge you to talk to your friends about this issue and vow together to stop the one up talk.

“I am not good enough.”

10. Try to Be Spontaneous

This one kind of sucks for us perfectionists.  Spontaneity is hard and it takes effort, but it helps us break out of our habits, our comfort zones and get a fresh view on our actions.

Thank you for letting me write about my own issues on the blog, I hope some of you can find solace in my struggle for sanity.

Dream big, work hard and you will get there,


If you like this article, read our other Radical Parenting Articles.  If you are really inspired, think about taking the Radical Parenting Pledge..are you radical enough?

7 Responses to “Striving For Perfection: 10 Ways You Can Stop Feeling Guilty”

  1. troubled teen program
    June 12, 2008 at 4:02 am #

    Great post! Thanks for the wonderful tips! That adds self-esteem and self-worth to oneself.

  2. Vicki
    June 12, 2008 at 6:00 am #

    Great post! Thank you so much for these “tangible” pointers. You’re so right in that our kids will emulate us, both our strong and weak points. I’m forwarding this post to my hubby. We both could stand to work on a few areas…

  3. Vanessa
    June 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm #


    I am so glad you liked it, this post was hard for me to write, so it is nice to get the feedback = )

  4. Prabha
    February 8, 2009 at 3:42 am #

    Very nice post. I guess its for me and i read it at the right time! your writing is just like you are talking in front of me. Great! seems like I can have a great buddy by means of reading your posts!

  5. Kaira
    September 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    I found the article very interesting. Great tips.

  6. Vanessa Van Petten
    September 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    thank you for reading!



  1. links for 2008-06-13 | Why I FAILED - June 17, 2008

    […] Striving For Perfection: 10 Ways You Can Stop Feeling Guilty This post is written for teens, but I’ve found people of all ages struggle with these. (tags: personal_development success life) […]

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