Healthy Food Story  >  Let’s Celebrate Being Good Enough

Let’s Celebrate Being Good Enough

kale-and-chocolate-blog-20130801I am celebrating today!  Nope, it’s not my birthday or wedding anniversary or graduation or any of those usual milestones we typically recognize… I am celebrating that one year ago this week, I wrote the blog post where I admitted my struggles with perfectionism.  You may be thinking, who cares… but stay with me a little longer because the message and the story behind it changed the course of my life… and I’m pretty comfortable saying that it might have an impact on you or some other important women in your life.

You see, when I wrote When Perfect Is Not So Perfect, it was one of the most difficult things I had done publicly.  First, I had to come to terms with my own journey with perfectionism and think about how my tendencies permeated almost every facet of my life. It interfered with my relationship with food, my body, my work, my family, my exercise regimen, my plans, and so on.  And even more so, I realized that I had been living with the iron grip of perfectionism for as long as I can remember. Ouch.

But here’s what you don’t know: I wrote the article four months before I sent it out.  I had it sitting on my desktop, even proofed it 27 (or more) times to make sure it was…dare I say, perfect.  But I couldn’t bring myself to hit publish.  How could I show my flaws and (gasp!) imperfections?

So back to the celebration part…well, since the decision to reveal my truths, I’ve never looked back.  Because sharing who you really are, deep down to the core, and exposing your vulnerabilities is the key ingredient to creating connections.  Once I sent out that post, there were floods of emails and people saying: “Me too!” “That’s me.” “I feel like you were in my head.” “Wow, it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.

Writing about my personal story made things real… for my community, for the people close to me, and for myself.  As a perfectionist, I was not only able to back off and embrace that I am human, flaws and all, but I also came to understand that being in a perpetual state of trying to be superhuman was and never has been achievable nor sustainable. Phew.

This isn’t just about me and what I have discovered about myself.  Since that day, I have made it my mission to help women learn to soften their painfully high standards and find a healthy balance of discipline & freedom.  (I know. It's definitely a tall order!)

Perfectionism is rampant:

  • It was evident in my son when he was 5-years-old and in his brilliance refused to read out loud because he didn’t want to sound out the syllables.  With his all or nothing approach, if the words didn’t easily flow from one to the next, he wouldn’t read at all.
  • I identify with the woman who gets on the scale, sees a slightly higher than usual number, and lets a piece of metal dictate her mood (and self-worth) for the rest of the day.
  • I recognize it in my beautiful, thin and caring client, a busy mother of four, who analyzes every morsel of food and beats herself up for even wanting a piece of pizza.  After all, she believes that she is more “enlightened” than that.
  • I see it in the 9-year-old girl who spends hours putting forth her best effort on a beautifully written paper and turns to her mom and says, “Mommy, is this good enough?”
  • I feel the pain of the countless number of women who fear putting on a bathing suit and showing their bodies in public and assume the whole world will be staring at their thighs.
  • I observe the teenagers who feel less than when they don’t look like the models or have the lives of the celebrities portrayed in the media.
  • I sympathize with the entrepreneurs, who in spite of their passion and creative fire, are stuck, even paralyzed, and having trouble getting their ideas out into the world until they dot every “i” and cross every “t”.
  • And, mostly, it's ingrained in the mentality of our culture where feeling not pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, creative enough, successful enough, fast enough, funny enough…<fill in the blank> enough is the norm.

So, I ask you to take a good hard look, whether it is a deeper dive inside yourself or noticing your daughter, best friend, mother, sister or all the other women in your life.  Because what you’ll see is that this mindset of not good enough-ness and striving to be perfect… it’s everywhere.  And it’s affecting our sleep, our hormones, our waistlines, and most importantly, our relationships & quality of life.

I am here to say: it doesn’t have to be like this. And I have a feeling you might agree. Let’s begin…

Right now, scan the areas of your life where you notice an internal struggle and think about the different ways that the self-imposed pressure shows up in your kitchen, on the scale, in the mirror, and in every other realm.  Really examine whether it is deserving of your time & attention.  Is it creating stress?  Is it preventing you from experiencing pleasure? And, start to imagine releasing and letting go of the things that are not serving you.

Remember: you are good enough.  You have everything you need. Every single day. Let that truth keep you focused as you continue examining the role perfectionism plays in your life.

Question of the day: Can you see how this self-created stress might be affecting your health, your body, your relationships and your life?  Have you been able to overcome this pressure and invite peace & ease into your life? Share your stories & insights below.


  • Mamaste says:

    I AM good enough! I have taken a very long road to get to this place, as I suppose many people travel that same route.

    • Elise says:

      Mamaste, it’s nice to see those words written. I am sure that you wouldn’t be who you are today if you hadn’t traveled that long road, but it’s reassuring to look at where you have ended up:).

  • Elise, i LOVE that you admitted to having sat on that blog post! I have done exactly the same thing so many times. Decided to be vulnerable, then totally freaked out about it and attempted to make my vulnerability less vulnerable!

    Thanks so much for the peacefulness-inducing reminder that we are enough and have enough!

    • Elise says:

      Hi Marsha~ It’s nice to know that I am not alone with my publish/don’t publish dialogue that I have with myself. I say if you are being vulnerable, then just go for it. It usually ends up creating a deeper connection with your readers. And, I love that you call the “you are enough” reminder peacefulness-inducing. Thanks for commenting.

  • Debbie says:

    great article Elise, keep them coming!

  • Saman says:

    Thinking about how this effects me, I realize that sometimes I just can’t breathe because I am focusing so much on perfectionism. A spiritual guru once told me that perfectionism doesn’t exist and if that I realized this, I would feel free. I still try to work on it – hard to perfect though (hah). Now that we know we are perfectionists, what are the steps towards accepting everything less than perfect? (next blog post!?)

    • Elise says:

      Hi Saman~ I think you have taken the most important step which is awareness. I agree with your spiritual guru. Perfection doesn’t exist and is definitely a dead end. Life is constantly evolving and changing. Isn’t that more exciting? Did you read the action steps at the end of the post…start by examining your life and the role that perfectionism plays in the different realms. Think about ways that you might be able to let go, even just a little. And remember your 80% is most people’s 200%. Thanks for sharing & I hope that this helps:).

  • Holly Sugrue says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom. This is something I work on everyday.

  • I have to admit, as a virgo, perfectionism runs deep within me. Part of why I specifically create more abstract art is a way to give myself permission to be “imperfect.” It allows me to let go and not force a specific outcome and rather embrace what emerges from within. Great post, thanks for sharing!!

    • Elise says:

      I love that you use art to help you release some of your perfectionist ways…What a great tool to give yourself permission to be real. I have also had to teach myself to go with the flow and feel more comfortable with the grey. Thanks so much for sharing your insights!

  • I have been sitting a little bit on my blog post about perfectionism. Here is the gist of the post. I have discovered as a digestive health coach that perfectionism, especially the compulsive kind where you CAN’T let go is simply a symptom of low serotonin production in the gut. It is fascinating to think the sometimes perfectionism is a chemical issue. I have begun to work on my own perfectionism by balancing and boosting my serotonin with diet, supplements and new self care habits. Low serotonin is an epidemic and so is perfectionism. It gives me great relief to know that this mental habit is not really who I am. I will report back tort you know the result of approaching perfectionism this way.

    • Elise says:

      Angela, I am looking forward to reading your post and learning more about your perspective. Perfectionism is definitely rampant and probably a combination of modalities (from boosting seretonin to mindset shifts) will help ease the iron grip we have individually and collectively. (P.S. don’t sit on that post too long. I read a quote that has helped me get my message out: “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”)

  • Shana says:

    Ah, perfectionism. We’ve had a love hate relationship for as long as I can remember. I have always been hard on myself when it comes to putting my best for forward, to giving it all, to being the best I can be. I’m not competitive with others, but fiercely so with myself. Ive also gone through the all or nothing phase…of trying to let go of the tight hold perfectionism had over me, by saying eh…this is god enough. And then feeling guilty about it it after the fact. It is and will always be a mindfulness practice with me. I need to consistently remind myself I am enough, what I do is enough, what I have to offer is of value as is, and at the same time remember that striving for excellence is equal healthy as is letting go. It’s ok to continue to learn and grow while fully embracing and loving who I am right now.

    • Elise says:

      Shana, I love the dialogue you have with yourself and the balance that you have achieved between striving for excellence and letting go. I tell myself all the time that I can still strive for excellence but in a way that is nourishing & kind. Thank you for reminding us all that it is ok to continue to evolve while loving ourselves right here & now. Great insights!

  • Diane says:

    This is a beautiful post Elise. Thank you for sharing it! I love your phrase “to help women learn to soften their painfully high standards.” Perfectionism can feel so harsh. Sometimes it takes seeing the effect on others to realize this because inside it can just feel like our normal mode of operating. It’s helped me to soften when I realize it’s not just affecting me but those around me also. And it’s so freeing to come to know that we are enough. Already. Thank you for your post!

    • Elise says:

      Hi Diane~
      You really bring up an important point that resonates with me. I, too, did not even realize that my perfectionism was interfering with my life as I had lived with it for so long that it just felt “normal”. That’s why just creating that awareness for people is a huge first step. Once you discover that it doesn’t have to be such an internal battle, you are so right, it is liberating. Thanks for your wisdom!

  • Terra Kroll says:

    Thank you for this reminder, Elise. I struggle with the perfectionist monster on the regular. It’s inherent in my Virgo personality. Thankfully, I am now aware of this struggle and rather than drive myself crazy over the (im)perfections, I savor the ones that make me a little more “me.”

  • OMG – this post is so timely for me. I just experienced a terrible fight with someone I love, all to realize I was causing most of the drama. Now everything is better than good, because I understand why it happened in the first place.

    Thanks for being so real. It’s nice to see that we all go through these kinds of struggles.


    • Elise says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am sorry you had a fight with someone you love, but it sounds like the life lesson just on the other side is priceless. It’s hard enough to live with those self-imposed high standards, and it can be just as challenging for those close to us:(.
      We’re all in this together, and it’s definitely a process.

  • Whenever I start to dig deep, “I’m not good enough” is always the root feeling. I’ve been dealing with that one for a long time I guess. Even as I started to read this blog post I starting feeling like a post I just put up on my website wasn’t good enough. Ha! When I realized that’s what I was thinking I had to stop and chuckle at myself for a second. That’s the point. I’M GOOD ENOUGH right here, right now. 🙂 I also recognize in your examples how far I’ve come in loving myself and going easier with my perfectionism. It is something that can get easier to deal with. I’m live with a lot more peace & tranquility in my mind now. Thank you for sharing your story!!

    • Elise says:

      I am glad that you stopped yourself in your tracks while reading this blog and sent yourself the message that you are good enough, right here and right now. I agree with you that it can get easier to deal with, and the first step being to just become aware of the role perfectionism is playing in your life. Sounds like you have already done that and you are able to make changes so that you are living with a lot more peace & tranquility.

  • Julie D'Attoma says:

    After spending last week at the same vacation spot as you and seeing the work and thought you put into your blog, I want to thank you for taking the time from your vacation and sharing your valuable insights. You give of yourself even when taking a summer break. I went for a run yesterday and it was humid and hot and I ran a bit slower but I got out there and that was “good enough.” This blog helped me find that inner peace.

    • Elise says:

      I am so happy to hear that you embraced “good enough” and feel that inner peace. And thank you for appreciating the time & effort that goes into creating a blog post. xxx

  • Andrea says:

    I had never really thought of myself as a perfectionist, but was recently looking back and remembering how there were a few HUGE, potentially life-changing moments when I was so scared of not doing something well that I chose to do nothing at all. And that seems like textbook perfectionism to me! It seems that the more important something was to me, the more the perfectionism would creep in. What I’ve done is very, very consciously focused on creating ease in my life – particularly important now that I have two little girls. The importance of modeling “good enough” for them is much greater than the importance of things being perfect. 🙂

    • Elise says:

      Your last sentence is quotable. It is so powerful and so true. You are such a wonderful role model to those two lucky little girls:).

  • I let out a sigh of relief when I read this… thank you. For years I have struggled with not wanting to reveal my weaknesses or my imperfections with the fear that others would consider me needy or incompetent…or worse…that they wouldn’t like me or want to be around me any more! I have held onto these subtle beliefs both personally and professionally. But the more I have become conscious of them and the more I have opened up (scary!) the more I find people are at ease around me because (to my surprise!) they are not perfect either! Ah, the sweetness of honesty. Thank you for your reminder that we are enough.

    • Elise says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. Like you, I learned that revealing who you are, imperfections and all, is the key to connecting with others (and yourself). I am sure it has been liberating for you to learn to open up and share the real you.

  • Nathalie says:

    Elise, I. LOVE. THIS. POST! And it is so how I used to be :-). I found my way out of the “everything needs to be perfec trap” through mindfulness and it is so liberating to be fine with not being perfect all the time. Thanks for this great piece!

    • Elise says:

      Nathalie, it’s so reassuring to hear from you as someone who moved away from the whole perfectionist mindset. I agree with you that loosening the iron grip of perfectionism is indeed liberating! Thank you for sharing.

  • Desiree East says:

    Ahhhhhh…SO true, I could def relate to the blog post thing. When I first started blogging, I would take foooorrrrevvvvver to edit it. Ha! Now, I know better. And as time goes on, I am realizing that people are so worried about their own definition of “being perfect”, they might not even notice our imperfections. We are only HUMAN, after all – and if there is anyone that is totally and completely perfect, I call Bulls*it. (Excuse my french). LOL!

    • Elise says:

      Desiree, you made me laugh. I have to admit that I still take fooooooorrevvvvver to edit and post my blogs. I would love to know YOUR tricks for just getting your important message out without worrying about it being so “perfect.” Love your attitude!

  • Sonja Keller says:

    Ahh perfectionism is the bain of my existence. Whilst it enables me to aim high and achieve much, I struggle with link it has with my identity. I’m a high achiever, but I am enough. I constantly need to remind myself that I’m enough and I don’t need to over achieve to feel ‘enough’. If I did, I would never be enough! So, this post was timely – thanks!

    • Elise says:

      Sonja, I get the balance you describe between striving for excellence but the feeling of “enough”..without overachieving. I believe that we can still have high expectations and high standards, but we can achieve them in a way that is nourishing and kind to ourselves.

  • Mandy says:

    Can so relate to this in regards to blog posting and even launching products. Great post! Thanks for being brave and sharing.
    lots of hugs
    Mandy xo

  • Lacy says:

    I DEFINITELY struggle with this in so many areas of my life, and it’s one of my biggest fears that I’ll pass it along to my daughter inadvertently. But one of the biggest things that has helped me is developing a gratitude practice. Saying “thank you” for whatever it is, however it comes, has helped me realize that I don’t have to be perfect, and I can be grateful for all the glorious imperfection in my life.

    • Elise says:

      Lacy, yes, the gratitude practice. I try to do this and teach my clients to have one each morning. It really can change the tone of your day! Your daughter has a wonderful role model:).

  • Silvia says:

    Elise, I don’t think I’ve struggled with trying to be perfect…just the not-good-enough part. I think that no matter who we are and how much we’ve achieved, feeling not good enough is part of the human condition – until it’s not. No wonder everyone can relate. The thing is, WE ARE PERFECT…just not the human part. LOVE the title of your blog.

    • Elise says:

      Hi Silvia,
      Thanks so much for sharing your insights. I love what you said that not feeling good enough is part of the human condition–“until it’s not.”

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