How to Shift from Perfectionism into Creative Freedom

by Erik Peterson

One of the biggest ways we sabotage ourselves as creatives is allowing our negative inner dialogue to dictate how we show up and what we carry into the process of art-making. 

If perfectionism has prevented you from creating in the way you desire, take heart. I think we all wrestle with this to varying degrees. The good news is that it can always get better. 

Perfectionism has us believing that we need to have everything figured out in advance, that failure is unacceptable, and that everything we create needs to be a masterpiece! 

Between perfectionism and freedom is a bridge called grace. When we learn to walk this bridge, we will find incredible relief, healing, and new creative possibilities.

If you are caught up in a perfectionistic moment, here are three simple steps you can practice making the shift.

3 Steps to Shift From Perfectionism into Freedom

  1. Notice. The first step is to pay attention, tuning in to what voices might be loudest or most familiar. It can be helpful to name and acknowledge that voice when it pops up and say, “Oh hi, there you are!” Try to stay as curious and non-judgmental as possible, which helps create separation between your perfectionistic thoughts and your wiser self that is noticing and inquiring.
  2. Tune into your body and breath. The second step is to notice what your body and breath are doing. Are you hunched over with your chest caved in? Slumped to one side? Take a slow deep breath, and gently move your body as you breathe into a more relaxed upright posture. Shake out your limbs if it helps. Take another nice calming breath with a long, slow exhale.
  3. Invite God’s grace in. Now that your body is relaxed, you’ll likely be more open to inviting God's grace in and seeing new ways of experiencing your situation. To begin to loosen the rigid hold of perfectionism, play around with the question, “What might grace say in this situation?” or “What if there was another approach I could try?” ‘What if' questions are amazing helpers to activate your creative mind and encourage it to play with new possibilities. Stay open and see what God brings to your heart and mind.

Practice Your Way into Freedom

These three steps can be done fairly quickly, and in my experience, that's preferable to a drawn-out process. In as little as 2 minutes, you can be on a new path that allows you to re-approach your creative work in a fresh, more empowered way. 

The more you practice making these shifts, the more amazed you’ll be when you are no longer caught in those perfectionistic patterns. You’ll see your creative work blossom, and you’ll be happier, more peaceful and more energized as you create. Who doesn’t want that?