For years I have constantly struggled, against none other than myself. Why am I so aware of all my supposed flaws, yet disregard my accomplishments? Why do I feel that all I have done is not enough? Why am I not smart enough, not driven enough, not thin enough, not good enough?
I can only conclude that the answer to these questions is my relentless sense of perfectionism.
Don't misunderstand- my efforts in doing things aren't even close to perfect, in fact as of late they are mediocre at best. But I recently discovered that my pursuit of perfection is actually getting in the way of pursuing excellence.
I must realize that excellence and perfection are very different things. With hard work, excellence can be achieved, but perfection can never be, regardless of how much anyone tries.
True excellence is about setting (realistic) goals and then striving to achieve them. Unlike perfectionism, excellence is about not only the goal, but the journey of learning from successes (and mistakes) along the way. Perfectionism, with its impossible standards and unrealistic goals, discourages from the very beginning- and snuffs out the joy of learning, growing, and even achieving.
Why wasn't this more obvious to me earlier on? Being on the Buddhist path and cherishing each effort in cultivating greater wisdom and compassion (whilst rejecting attachment) is to me the epitome of pursuing excellence. Strangely, I guess I just never made the connection to my own life- until now.
I now realize that perfectionism, along with the nagging, bullying thoughts that accompany it, only instills fear of failure- and fear of even trying. In contrast striving for excellence gives people motivation and a true sense of purpose as they take risks to pursue their dreams. The result? A wise, dynamic person who confidently seeks to experience life, fully open to all it can teach us.
It is time for me to go this route.
Of course, this post is mostly as a reminder and wake-up call to myself, but I would love to hear your thoughts to see if anyone else is experiencing similar feelings (with all the negative self-talk I hear from others, I know I can't possibly be alone in this -unless it's all for show!). Feel free to comment and tell me what you think.
May all beings be happy!