My approach

The joy of imperfection (anxiety)

Do you ever feel that you have a clear vision of how your life should be; that you must strive for that perfection until you get there and then you will finally feel satisfied and happy?

  • ‘When I get a new job things will be so much better.’
  • ‘When we can afford a bigger house life will be so much easier.’
  • ‘When I have another child my family will feel complete.’
  • ‘It will be much easier when my child is at school’
  • ‘I want to make this Christmas a perfect family Christmas.’

If this sounds like you, you are not alone! It is a common theme amongst counselling clients, especially those experiencing anxiety. Anxiety and perfectionism often go together. But is it helpful? Is it going to make you happy?

I see two big problems with this way of living life.

Firstly there is the pressure you are putting yourself under. Achieving perfection is extremely difficult and therefore puts you under enormous stress trying to reach it. It leads to those self-critical, confidence knocking  messages which do so much damage – ‘I’m no good at this’, ‘What if I make a mistake?’, ‘All that time and effort was pointless’, ‘Everyone will think I’m rubbish’. Do you recognise any of these thoughts? If so maybe you might consider consciously replacing your thoughts with this.

‘Good enough IS good enough’!!

Secondly, and very importantly you are not enjoying and valuing your life now! If you are waiting for that perfect day when you will have life just as you want it, you are missing out on fully appreciating every day between now and then. Not only that, the chances are you will spend every day of your life without reaching that ‘perfect’ state of being because for most people it will never happen.

If you are someone who focuses on perfection, you will never find it because you will inevitably discover when you reach the summit of that particular hill of perfection, there is another hill in front of you that looks to be better than the one you’re on. Or maybe the one you’re on is pretty good but it would be better if the sun were shining, or there were a few comfy benches up there! That means that you could spend the whole of your life waiting to be happy but never get there.

Instead of that continual running ever faster to reach that lofty place, how about you:


You probably won’t be in the perfect place. Perhaps it’s a bit cloudy, or you can hear a police siren, or you’re feeling a bit cold… But just focus for a minute on something in your environment; it may be a sight, a sound, a smell or a bodily sensation and the chances are it won’t be perfect. It may even be that cloud up there – its shape, colour, texture or perhaps a pair of seagulls flying in front of the cloud. Or perhaps it is the sound of birdsong, or even the rhythmical sound of the police siren. This very act of stopping and being consciously aware of the small details slows you down and enables you to appreciate the perfection of imperfection and that is a wonderful thing.

So whatever it is you’re planning to do or hoping to achieve, just consider saying to yourself at the outset that this is not going to be perfect but I’m going to enjoy it anyway.  It’ll help lighten the load and allow you to savour the imperfections you meet along the way.

Revel in the joy of imperfection – it is what life is all about!