A Conversation About Perfection + Conquering Guilt

Tips for how to forgive yourself when a mistake is made, and how to conquer the guilt that follows.

small pitcher and bowl with flowers tips for a simpler life

“Perfect” is a very overused word. I admit, I use it way too much. There are, of course, perfect things in our world…a baby’s smile, a sunny spring day, a bouquet of hydrangeas, a puppy or kitty sleeping on your lap.

annabelle hydrangeas in pitcher and bowl 2023

One thing that is not perfect is life itself, and we as humans are definitely not perfect. When I make a mistake or fall short in some way, the first thing I do is make amends. That’s the easy part. After that, the hardest thing for me to deal with is the self-imposed guilt. So between the mistake, and the corresponding guilt, I’m usually a bit of a mess. Pretty much the opposite of perfection!

dough bowl filled with flowers on grain sack runner 2023

I’m not particularly good at granting myself grace. I wish I was better at it. I don’t mean making excuses, or not taking responsibility for my actions. I mean letting go of the guilt, and forgiving myself.

pink bleeding hearts in blue and white pitcher spring idea

Nothing can eat you alive faster than guilt. If I had to pick my biggest emotional challenge in life, it would be dealing with feelings of guilt as a result of my mistakes. I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure this out, and I still don’t know why it happens. Why the guilt weighs on my mind, and why it lasts so long. For me, the guilt following the mistake makes me feel worse than making the mistake itself.

pitcher of flowers on round tray

I have, however, learned some things that have helped. Which brings us to a few tips for accepting our imperfections, and granting ourselves grace.

lovely pink and white tulips arranged in pitcher 2023

Apologize

Like I said above, the first thing we must do after making any kind of mistake is apologize. This must be done quickly and sincerely. And at least for me, this is the easy part. I’m not afraid to face the person and admit that I screwed up, and say that I’m sorry. It’s impossible to move forward until this first step is behind you.

Write In A Journal

When we write down our feelings, it serves as a cleansing of our hearts. Whenever I write about something that’s happened in my life, good or bad, I always feel better. Your thoughts don’t have to be organized, because this is something you are doing for yourself. Just write what you feel, and when you are finished, tuck it away.

Do A Good Deed/Make Amends

This definitely makes you feel better about yourself. Making amends means to take the actual apology a step further by doing something nice. It can be something very small, or something that takes more effort. Either way, setting aside the time to do something good for another person will point your mind in a different direction. So you’re actually accomplishing two things, which is a win-win for sure.

Pray

God forgives everything, so to ask for a simple blessing is always a good idea.

Focus On The Present + Future

Don’t let past mistakes define you. Concentrate on the present moment, and the positive steps you can take moving forward. Acceptance is the first step towards moving on. So own your mistake, but don’t dwell on it. (Believe me, I know this is easier said than done!)

  • If you are wondering how I chose the images that are featured in this post, I simply picked the ones with the prettiest flowers I could find. Flowers are, in my opinion, as close to perfection as we can get.
  • Clearly I am not a counselor, physician, or medical professional. I’m just a normal person, trying to do the best I can. This conversation is not meant to serve as any sort of treatment. Talking about this seemed like a good thing to do, and if it made one person feel better, it was worth it.

No one is perfect, and striving for perfection is simply a waste of time. We have to always attempt to be better, and to learn from our mistakes. But when we fall short, and we will, the most important thing to remember is that we aren’t bad people. Misreading a situation, speaking before we think, or unintentionally hurting someone’s feelings are all part of being human.

Letting go of guilt is a powerful act of self-preservation, and it’s a gift you can give yourself. Guilt, whether justified or unfounded, has a deep impact on our lives, often keeping us from enjoying life, finding peace, and being happy. It can also truly derail your confidence and self-esteem. So forget about being perfect, and let go of that guilt. I promise to do my best to practice what I preach!

dried limelight hydrangeas in watering can

FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS
A SIMPLER LIFE.

I’ve been there. I know how you feel.
I can help.

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42 Comments

  1. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA) says:

    Thanks, Ann, for this lovely post. You did a wonderful job of writing and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your wonderful thoughts with us. I appreciate you so much, Ann.

    1. You are very welcome…I appreciate you as well. You are always so kind and supportive. Thank you!

  2. Chris Sutton says:

    Thank you so much for this. It was simple and very well said.What really drew me to your post years ago was my last name is Sutton and we have always had schnauzers.We have had 3 and lost our little Millie (at 13) last year and are not doing another one mostly because 13 years from now we will be very old! We will travel more ..but she is missed every day and I love the picture of yours. Thanks for your pretty, uplighting and informative Blog.

  3. Love this. I too, tend to lean toward perfectionism. I have learned over time that prayer comes before everything else because the focus is no longer on me and my reliance on self, but to Him. I love to be a giver, again, because it takes the focus off me. Good deeds are best done anonymously, that way there are no personal accolades.

  4. Sharon Ganne says:

    What an absolutely ‘Wonderful’ message, Ann. It definitely spoke to me and I’m sure, to all of your fans. It took a lot of thought and is filled with warmth, sincere caring for others, the desire to help others and love. Thank you for making my day even brighter. Sending warm hugs your way, Sharon

  5. Phyllis Honigmann says:

    This is great. Thank you. I’m going to save and re read.

  6. A beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The pictures of flowers are beautiful.

  7. Very lovely words and thoughts. We expect much of ourselves (and that’s great); we simply must remember to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others.
    And. . .I’m with you, a beautiful illustration fills my heart with peace.
    Please have a blessed 2024.

  8. Linda Brumbaugh says:

    Thanks for boldly sharing what so many of us struggle with. I have found Gods amazing grace that has been lavished on my failures grants me the freedom to forgive others and myself in new and fresh ways. I think I will always struggle with fear that even my best efforts are not good enough. Trusting my Abba Daddy to fill in the messy cracks in my life so that all people see is His light.

  9. Thankyou for this honest opinion about imperfection and guilt. We all can identify with it. I just spent the weekend with my two oldest granddaughters one who is the mother of my 6month old beautiful great granddaughter. We had the best time and I just relaxed and enjoyed it without worrying about a perfect house. They have all gone home now and their are plenty of empty hours to clean up but I certainly would rather have them back here!

  10. Georgia Bingham says:

    Thank you for sharing those powerful thoughts. We all just want to wake up each day with good intentions and a happy outcome. The hardest thing is to know that only we can control our response to a situation. It’s so much easier to blame someone else. I’m not certain I’ll ever master that…it’s best to avoid conflict…it’s not easy for sure…😌

  11. Thank you Ann. At age 62, you’d think I would be better at forgiving myself for mistakes and mis-speaks. I beat myself up and rattle it around in my brain for far to long. Thank you for reminding us all that we don’t have to do this. We give grace and forgiveness to others; we need to give it to ourselves as well. :)

  12. Well said…thank you for this post 💗

  13. Dorrine Conrad says:

    Something I like to say to myself is “I love to make mistakes!”. It helps to see the mistake in a different light and reduces guilt once a mistake is made.

  14. Thank you for writing this. I wrestle with the same thing. I agree with one of the other posts that maybe another word might work here too-not guilt but shame. Guilt over something done wrong leads you to do right. Once you have made things right with God and anyone else you may have hurt-the guilt goes away. If there are feelings still left after that it is usually shame-but maybe regret too (as already posted).The Lord is helping me realize these feelings don’t come from him. You already said he has perfect forgiveness when we confess our sin. I have to remember that for those truly in Christ, there is no condemnation. An ongoing battle for me for sure. I love your courage in not having a problem expressing when you mess up. I think just admitting our wrong is a problem for a lot of us. Works in progress, right? Thank again for the post.

  15. Lynn Turner says:

    This sure rings true for me. Thank you so much for having the courage to post about this topic that I know so many women struggle with.

  16. Tina Vore says:

    Hi, Ann,
    This couldn’t have come at a better time! I have something that I believe came from your website that is posted on my refrigerator:
    The Gift Of Grace
    Grace is forgiveness.
    It’s acceptance of our faults, and our fears.
    It lets us turn the page, and move on.
    Without guilt, without regret.
    Grace is LOVE.

  17. Thank you, Ann, for this beautiful post. Your last paragraph is especially insightful. Much appreciated.

  18. Loved your thoughts in today’s post and also the floral arrangements
    Thanks for sharing
    Rosanne

  19. Tracy Glass says:

    Wow, this post really resonated with me. Thank for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

  20. Thank you so much for posting this, I struggle with guilt as well. I’m so glad you were brave and posted this.

  21. Judy Kascoutas says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on perfection and guilt. You hit the nail on the head for both. I’ve learned that focusing on today helps so much because I can’t make the past better except by learning from it and today is what important. Praying for guidance has be so very helpful for me. Progress not perfection is my mantra as I am human.

  22. Words of wisdom. I think a lot of people – me included – struggle with this. Thanks for posting!

  23. Ann Coombe says:

    Ann….thank you for sharing! What a lovely posting that is so very personal and meaningful. You are an inspiration in so very many ways. Tangible and Intangible. Thank you for always putting yourself out there and letting us in.

    God bless you!

  24. Kristin Fisher says:

    Thank you! This is something that I have struggled with, so simply, thank you.

  25. Charlotte England says:

    Thank you Ann for sharing your experience with guilt. You are not alone. Your suggestions for dealing with it are helpful and useful. I’m determined to give myself more grace in 2024. Bless you and thank you for sharing beauty and ideas with us.

  26. Emily Marx says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Ann for this lovely, helpful entry !
    I have the exact same reaction of guilt when I make mistakes.
    May I share with you the following as it helps me with my guilt, feelings, and lightens things.
    I say the following prayer from Saint Teresa of Avila, whenever I feel caught in my “guilt trap”:

    Let nothing upset you, let nothing frighten you, everything is changing, God alone is changeless,
    patience attains the goal,
    She who has God lacks nothing,
    Got alone fills all our needs.
    Kindest regards all around,
    ~ Emily Marx
    P.S. Have you taken some much deserved time to watch the series I wrote you about and recommended: the seaside Hotel from, pbs passport. Perfect winter viewing, or any season, really. Enjoy !

  27. Thank you Ann for sharing the creative gifts God has given you.
    Every day is truly a gift from God – full of beauty, grace, and love. I awoke this morning to fin my Christmas Cactus bloomed! 🙏💕

  28. Nancy Sharp says:

    I hear you loud and clear!❤️ I cannot forgive myself many times. Sometimes it’s for things that are not that important. Where do we get the idea that we are supposed to be perfect. Sadly, I am 77 years old and I still have that issue. Some of you influencers have helped me and I thank you. Others just make me feel untalented and unworthy. But it’s never too late and with God’s help I’ll do better.❤️❤️❤️

  29. Anne Marie Gorman says:

    ‘When thinking about life, remember this:
    no amount of guilt can change the past
    and no amount of anxiety can change the future.’
    I have lived by this unknown author a great deal of my life.

  30. I can see that you really have thought about this alot. It takes alot of soul searching to write a blog about this. You have some good ideas. I think Guilt is a wasted emotion and really can bring you in a bad place. I know Im not a perfect person but I strive to be the best person I can be. So thats why I love being creative, love gardening and enjoying Nature outside. Thanks Anne for writing this article.

  31. Thank you for “putting yourself out there”.

    Perfection leads me to fear. A lifetime of struggle against this emotion.

  32. Oh, my, this is such a beautiful, honest and touching post, definitely straight from the heart. It is a reminder many of us need to hear, especially in today’s world of Picture Perfect Instagram World. Many of us feel we fall short and we need to be reminded no one or anything is perfect all of the time. I love how open you are about your feelings. Again, so many of us hold back and hold these feelings in. You remind us ways to handle these feelings and then—-let go. Breathe and continue living each day the best we can. Thank you for this beautiful reminder and gentle push towards truly living…..

  33. Ann, you are so sweet, kind, and BRAVE. Thank you for sharing from your heart! I hope you feel a return of all the love and compassion that you inspire in others.

  34. Guilt is an often misused word. Guilt means you have done something wrong and often is applied when nothing wrong has been done. Regret may be the better choice. When I cared for my father with dementia I often visited a caregivers forum. Many expressed guilt at moving a loved one into a long term care residence or leaving to go on a trip. The word guilt was inaccurate because they did nothing wrong. I would not use that word unless what I did was illegal or against a moral code.

    1. Good topic for thought and discussion this morning. If we don’t all feel guilt or regret (as Nanci reminds us below) at some time we are either in denial or have a personality defect……both are human feelings. It’s how we handle those feelings that is important. And I agree Nanci, there’s a big difference in guilt and regret. I hope to remind myself that often and apply as needed. May we all have a guilt and regret free day. Thank you Ann.

  35. Sue Daugherty says:

    God must have prompted you to write this for me. I’m currently suffering from the guilt of thinking I “ should” be able to care for my sick mom at home when the reality is I can’t. Which is a whole different level of guilt but just as painful. I need to grant myself the grace to have physical limits. Thank you so much for sharing this post.

  36. Just what I needed today! Thank you!

  37. Well said, Ann! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I think not meeting our ideal of perfections is a source of unnecessary stress for many of us.

  38. Jane Windham says:

    Ann, you’re such a good person and these are wonderful, uplifting thoughts this morning. I have been journaling since I retired-not very organized but where I put everything including quotes, many of which I got from you!

  39. Eloise Kelly says:

    I appreciate your comments about perfection and guilt. It is so often hard to let go of the guilt and yet it does no good at all. Thank you!