Why perfectionism kills creativity?!

Updated: June 29, 2021

To experience true creativity is to be lost in a flow state. It can feel as if a stream of ideas and messages moves through us – we just have to get out of the way and allow this magical process to happen. 

Creativity by nature has a very fluid structure, which is why perfectionism can be the ultimate killer of creativity. Perfectionism is focused only on the end game. It has a strict idea of what we plan to create and it doesn’t allow space for something unique and surprising to emerge. 

If the thing you create is not exact, if it goes outside the lines, then you deny it. Inherent in the word perfectionism is a denial of the perfection of everything as it is. It denies the opportunity for something to create its own form. 

Getting to the root of your perfectionism

If you’re starting to explore how to overcome perfectionism, you have to start by getting to the root. What’s causing this tendency and desire in the first place? 

Typically, perfectionism is rooted in our strident need for certainty. In the desired end result of approval. Often, this desire for approval from others comes from a deep wound. 

If this pressure to be approved of by another person is deeply ingrained in us, it can start to feel as though we personally will not be whole if we don’t get the approval from someone outside of ourselves. So, we learn to deny approval from ourselves to ourselves unless we reach some perfection that seems to be always out of reach. 

For many of us, this begins in our childhoods with our parents. Personally, I remember the heavy pressure to get straight A’s and the way my father would be very angry and disappointed in me if I came home with a B. Have you ever experienced this kind of pressure for someone’s approval? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 

When we experience this, we’re left with this core feeling that deep down, we are flawed. That without the external validation of making something perfect and getting the approval we’ve been conditioned to seek, we are not whole. 

So ultimately, if you’re curious about overcoming perfectionism, you have to be willing to go within and look at the wound that has made you feel this way. 

There is an upside of perfectionism when it doesn’t come from our wounding 

If perfectionist tendencies are wrapped up in a tightly held desire for a specific outcome, you can almost guarantee that the root of this is your wounding. This is the kind of perfectionism that can take a toll on your mental health. 

If you feel this tendency coming up around a project or creation, it might be a good time for a healthy dose of “done is better than perfect” mentality. 

But there is an upside to perfectionism when it comes in the form of a desire to create something beautiful or impactful. Something that feels perfect to you. 

When it comes to your creative process, “good enough” usually doesn’t feel very good. That drive to always make something better because you feel proud and excited about what you’re creating is the healthy side of perfectionism. At this point though, it’s perfectionism without the “ism.” It’s not a compulsive need for approval, it’s a deep desire to create something you feel proud of. 

How to finally stop being a perfectionist and improve your mental health 

You may eventually reach a point where you realize perfectionism is taking a toll on your life and holding you back from your personal growth. 

For me, this point came when I was just miserable and I knew I couldn’t live that way anymore. I finally stopped at some point and thought, “Why am I always trying to make everything perfect?”

I realized that I would be so much more fulfilled when I came to a place where I was more interested in the curiosity and the exploration of what could present itself than trying to reach a specific end result. 

For a lot of people, perfectionism and anxiety are closely linked. So when you finally get free of this thought that you need to make things perfect, you actually get free of your anxiety too. 

The way you start to experience this freedom is by surrendering to the fact that nothing is perfect, and everything is perfect in its imperfection. That there is beauty in imperfection.

And it involves believing that YOU are perfect in your imperfection too. That you are whole and you are enough no matter what you create outside of yourself, what accomplishments or accolades you have, or what anyone else thinks. 

You begin to heal when you embrace your “flawesomeness” 

You truly are perfect in your imperfection. You are “flawsome” – awesome with all of your flaws. The journey to personal growth and self-actualization is never about fixing yourself. You were never broken in the first place. 

If you want to overcome perfectionism, you have to be able to look at where you are right now as perfect. You are the sum total of your experiences and that’s the greatest gift you have to offer. Nothing you’ve been through has ever been wasted. 

You are not broken. And when you embrace yourself as whole right now, exactly where you are, you’ll notice the hold of perfectionism beginning to loosen its grip on you. 

Have you ever had an experience where you finally saw yourself through this lens – perfect with all of your flaws? Tell me about it in the comments! 

Creativity is a product of the Divine Spark within each of us 

That’s why perfectionism is a killer of creativity, because it denies the fact that we are already perfect as a creation of the Divine. Everything that comes through you is a product of that magical part of you. 

When you are caught up in perfectionism, you’re not trusting yourself. You’re not trusting your capabilities and the mystical quality within you. The genius that each of us has. 

The truth is, we all have access to this invisible library of potential that can come through us. But when we’re trying to control everything, we stop that potential in its tracks. We get stuck thinking it’s all up to us. 

Instead, we have to trust in our curiosity and the fact that if we can get out of our own way and put our faith in the Universe, we create space for something beautiful and inspired to come through. 

In a way, we’re all in the process of some kind of pivot right now. And perfectionism can come up more than ever in those times of change and uncertainty because there’s a desire to control. 

During these times, it can be incredibly helpful to have outside support to lean into trusting Spirit and finding your way. We have a really exciting online event coming up that is a perfect opportunity to get this support within a really incredible community of heart-centered, spiritual seekers.

OraclePalooza virtual is a 3-day, online event with thousands of community members from around the globe. This experience will help you see your life for the inspiring adventure it is, deepen your trust in the Universe, and claim the beautiful future that awaits you. 

I really hope you’ll join us for this magical weekend! Find out more and grab your ticket here…

Showing 12 comments
  • Kathryn

    Reminds me of the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi. Repairing a flaw (broken bowl or plate) with gold & it becoming more beautiful. Not that we are broken but through knowing ourselves better we can accept “all of ourselves” & see the beauty in everything we are.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      now that’s fantastic! and I love that concept! you’re not just repairing, you’re making something look more beautiful!

  • Aida

    I also grew up in a very strict family all around. Mother, grandmother and my uncles. I’m a perfectionist and I actually can’t stand it anymore. This is why I have been slowly but surely getting into the mindset of “I don’t give a @&*+ what anyone says” about me. I’m going to be me! At 57 I’m still trying to get my mother’s approval and it’s very exhausting.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      absolutely! it’s hard living someone else’s idea of you instead of living for who you truly are!

  • Anonymous

    I needed this article 35 years ago. My parents addressed my perfectionism with my favourite math teach, algebra. Because he gave bonus work I had over perfect in my grade 10 math. They decided by themselves to mark me harder than the rest of the class. I learned how to be even more of a perfectionist. They meant well, but I already felt I was living in an undajust world. My brother would come home with his grades, lower than mine, and when I then come home with a 98% my dad would immediately say, where’s the other 2. That is how he could communicate his pride, was putting more pressure on me. I’m sure he didn’t see that, but it built up so many I’ll feelings that I have just recently got in touch with. Beautifully written and timely. Now to watch your video.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      I’m sure it was hard for you. but please know that you are free from that now. I am so happy to hear that you’re working on those feelings. I appreciate you for sharing your story with us.

    • Veroshka van der Walt

      Love this! This truly hit home and can resonate with each word. What really stood out for me is the “done is better than perfect” mentality. It is so amazing that something like “perceived perfection” (cause that is what it really is, a perception) can keep you from experiencing your best creations ever.
      For me both “perfection” and “normal” is spoken in the same breath- a question that I will never have answers for – by who’s standards are “perfect” and “normal” judged? nobody so far could explain this to me. So in conclusion, and for me, perfection”ism” is but a fragment of my “stunted” imagination. When I don’t focus on the perfect outcome, everything just feels so much lighter, brighter and in harmony with Spirit. 💕 thank you so much Colette 💕

  • Jennifer Hannigan Green

    I read this exactly at the right time! As an artist, perfectionism can be stifling. The fear of “being good enough”, for me at least, can cripple my creative process, which results in less work. My goal for my next painting series is too loosen up, so to speak, and just paint, just create. No plan, no sketches, just apply paint to canvas. I love the saying, “Done is better than perfect”! I needed to hear that today as I finished my first painting in my creative adventure. Thank you!

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      well I am so glad to hear that from you, Jennifer! thank you for sharing your reflection with me. I just know that you’ll be creating more amazing paintings and I can’t wait to see them! congratulations on finishing your first painting!

  • Renee

    Such a loaded topic. As a ” creative ” the journey is about exploring/experimenting. Perfection kills spontaneity, curiosity, and
    can inhibit the “spirit of play “. Curiosity,
    and suspending judgement, are an integral part of development. Focusing on the flaws, robs us the joy of discovery. I used to paint
    in exacting detail, with watercolour. A painstaking process. Then one day I was introduced to a printmaking technique with
    which I had no prior reference or experience. It was totally ” experiential “, and the outcome was unpredictable. It was mysterious, and a surprise because I had no idea about how?
    I was learning along the way. Well, I absolutely loved the printmaking. It led to so many doors opening that I could not have imagined possible. I enjoyed it and all of the uncharted blessings that were a part of the evolution of this unplanned story. Many ” risk-takes ” were required of me to establish my own style, and original designs. I never intended to repeat history. Boy it was the complete opposite to the camera-like focus I practiced while painting in watercolour. In fact some of the
    best raw material came from imperfect specimens.

  • Susan Hosken

    I was codependent with my mum and she liked things perfect and I wanted to make mum happy so became a perfectionist too. My spiritual director and I are working on me letting go of perfectionism and now my mum has passed away I don’t need to make her happy

  • Anonymous

    I grew up with a mother who told me if I wasn’t perfect, no one would love or want me.

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