Challenging Perfectionism … Letting Go and “Good Enough”

Sewing and creativity can bring out the perfectionist monkey’s in full force.

Any new mums struggling with this can join the FREE mini-retreat this Thursday (Sept 21st), in Highgate, London. Come and try out @sewmindful and say hi to your perfectionist mental monkey!  (We have a crèche from 10-3.30pm – booking is essential).

Those perfectionist monkeys are mental patterns that push us to strive, do better, do more, faster. They are fed by the modern pace of life and technology’s capacity to “help” us multi-task.  They can be VERY useful in today’s world but ultimately, when overused, these monkey’s are often not helpful. Here’s a video explaining a bit about mental monkeys and the sewmindful methodology.

When mindful, we are able to observe mental patterns and see them for what they really are. The features of the perfectionist mental pattern can be clearly seen with just a little bit of mindfulness practice.

This monkey:

  • finds it stressful to make decisions as one might be “better” than the other
  • gets anxious if someone takes over a task for them (“will they do it right?”)
  • finds it hard to get things finished because it’s never quite “as it should be”
  • can get very upset if someone makes a suggestion or offers criticism


Most people have a version of this pattern (check here if any of these sound like you) but it tends to get very exaggerated in new mum’s and those prone to depression. With higher and higher expectations, and the diminishing energy that comes with parenting and low mood, the disconnect between how we want things to be and how they actually are becomes more and more apparent.

What to do at this point? Things are NOT as we want them to be. This can be very hard for someone with perfectionist tendencies to engage with. The topic is even more potent in relation to parenting and especially motherhood. What is it like when your experience is at odd’s with the prevailing cultural stories of what “being a mother” should be like? Here is a good article on over-coming perfectionism.

We want to open up to these questions and start talking about what women really experience, not what we have been conditioned to believe is the “one” experience that all women have as mothers.  Hence a big part of the sewmindful method focuses on practicing “getting it wrong”, not being perfect, embracing imperfection and indeed, celebrating our own unique ways of “getting it wrong”.

Experiments in “getting it wrong” even prompted judging. “Even my wrong’s not right”











I think this poem captures the essence.

Challenging unhelpful patterns and learning to let go was a theme commented on by participants in the sewmindful pilot group. One participant was able to feel, directly in her body, the impulse to make her piece perfect and the lengths she was going to in order to attain that. She had the courage to explore this, and other ways of responding, in the sewing process. Trying to do something different, cultivate a healthier habit, feeling how uncomfortable THAT can be. There was still a desire to create a beautiful textile piece, but the mental attitude was deliberately altered to a style that was more allowing, gentle, easeful and present. There is no “finished” anyway.


“its ok not to finish, not to be perfect, that is something .. I’ll definitely take away, because that was always something I would strive for, the sort of perfect. And it’s ok if it’ just done, as opposed to done perfectly“.


Read more about the “Good Enough” mum, and see what the Huffington Post has to say here.


Find out more about how we use sewmindful to help combat the harmful effects of believing we need to be perfect.

You can join our FREE mini-retreat this Thursday (Sept 21st), in Highgate, London. We have a crèche from 10-3.30pm, so booking is essential.

Come and create and sew with @LizFinegold, try seated and moving mindfulness with Tamara Russell and meet Rosie at the Cocoon Family Support Hub.