Thursday, December 13, 2012

Letting go of perfectionism

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! 


  1. Wow, it has been so long since you put up another post... :)

    I agree with letting go of perfectionism...

    But we should also be aware of our flaws.

    I am always aware of my flaw but I am not attached to it until it will create suffering. By being aware of my flaw, I work towards a better me. If I do accomplish everything, I too try not to attach to my accomplishment as well.

    As a practitioner of the Dharma, we should look at life objectively and not be influenced by our six senses.

    Interesting read on excellence.

    Peace be with you

    1. Sorry, it is not everything but anything.


      Peace be with you.

  2. Hi xenusfreeman!

    Yes, it has been a long time, I'm glad to be posting again.

    But that is exactly my point- perfectionism can make us TOO aware of our flaws, causing fear and frustration. On the other hand if we strive for excellence we are aware of our flaws, but also allow ourselves to be happy when we succeed (while not being completely attached to success). It just seems healthier- and more mindful- to me.

    1. By the way, thank you for commenting, it is so nice to hear from you!

  3. Well said, Renata.
    I like that you mentioned fear of even trying. I believe the quote from Wayne Dyer's first book, "The maxim nothing avails but perfection may be spelled PARALYSIS", has stuck with me for many years. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    1. Thanks so much Dan, for your kind and insightful comment. I have never heard that quote before, but I really like it. It truly represents what I have been thinking and feeling over the past few months. Thanks so much for sharing it here.

      With Metta,


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata

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