Cartoon by Alissa Zorn of two people holding imperfect patched hearts and look hopeful of connecting.

Connection, NOT Perfection – One Phrase Strengthened All My Relationships

Years ago, I was struggling to cultivate the rituals, traditions, and values that would create my family culture. I didn't have much practice sorting out what mattered to me and my little family. It was hard to see what would feed our souls and what was just other people's expectations.

I would run myself ragged trying to please everyone, and my relationships and sense of wellbeing would suffer because of the stress.

When I came across this phrase, it became a mantra as I navigated this new family territory. The phrase is: connection, not perfection.

Connection, Not Perfection – Meaning

When I say ‘connection, not perfection,' I mean: Forget trying to be perfect. Connection is what matters more. So, when it feels awkward or uncertain, make the choice that seems most likely to support connection in your life.

As I learned to make choices about how to spend my time, what I could let go of, and what I needed to forgive myself for, I would say to myself, connection, not perfection.

Looking inward, noticing your values and your unique relationships and making choices that help you be the person you want to be for those people who matter most to you.


Looking outward and trying to become someone you believe others want.

Connection, Not Perfection.

I use this phrase to remind myself that connection is my top priority in my most overwhelming moments. I use it to remind me to keep the relationship I have with my family at the center of my life instead of listening too closely to the ‘shoulds' that seem to come from all angles.

You Don't Have to Be Perfect!

When we choose connection over perfection, we look for people, information, and experiences that will nurture our relationships rather than wear holes in them.

You don't have to be perfect!
You'll make mistakes.
You won't know the answers.
You'll lose your cool.

But if you make the quality of your relationships the priority, you won't steer too far off track. It comes back to connection; it comes back to you. Your friends and family don't want perfection; they want you.

Living Connection Not Perfection- What Does It Mean?

It's easy to get caught up in all the things you “should” be doing to connect with the people you love. Your kids, your partner, your parents, or friends…

Our relationships naturally are extremely important to us, and with our powerful desire to connect, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right. Loving someone can turn into a stressful checklist of things to do, but it doesn't have to.

Using connection as our guidepost helps us forgive ourselves and others more. Practicing connection over perfection allows us to build more meaningful, satisfying relationships.

Ways to Practice Connection Over Perfection

Put Relationships First

Trust that building strong, connected relationships will enable you to handle challenges together. If you're a parent, trust that connection with your kids will help you raise resilient, emotionally healthy people who are capable and can make their own healthy, loving relationships as they grow.

Be Intentional About How Your Celebrate

On holidays and during celebrations, perfectionism often comes calling. Try to make intentional choices about what you choose to include and what you let go of.

Give Yourself Credit for the Simple Ways You Connect With Loved Ones

Connection can be very simple. 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child, for instance, has ideas that will make you smile as you realize you are doing a lovely job on so many of these things already.

Connection, not perfection, simply means we look inward at the family we have and make choices that will nurture that family rather than trying to please everyone else. Leaning on the side of connection means we can give ourselves a little grace as we figure this out, knowing that being human won't always look pretty. Keep the big picture in mind:

The people who love you dearly want you- imperfect, silly ol' you. They want connection, not perfection.