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Is the Need for Perfection Holding You Back?

December 2nd, 2007 by Ryan

Do you love to start projects but have trouble finishing them?  Perhaps you constantly go back and edit or "improve" your work before letting anyone even peek at it?

Perfectionism causes us to stop just before the end of something which prevents us from receiving the rewards that "closing the deal" brings. It's actually a form of not accepting the self.

Even though I'll do a great job on something I often feel it's still not good enough and that I don't deserve to receive a reward, so I don't finish it.

Once I realized this need for perfection, it became so clear in every aspect of my life. For example, I recently purchased a digital camcorder and filmed 4 hours of our surf trip in fiji but never finished editing it. I wanted to make it professional-like with music and cut scenes, and it's been 11 months and none of my friends or family has even seen the video!

Imperfection I've also realized that perfection is a state that we can NEVER experience. Something that is complete or perfect is dead. Why? Because its not growing. Growth is life.

Barbie and Ken dolls are "perfect" but they are also plastic, lifeless, and they never change. Imperfection is THE greatest gift we have since it allows us to evolve and that process of reaching new levels of consciousness is the greatest bliss and joy in our life.

Think back to when you felt incredible joy and accomplishment, what had just happened? It was probably a time when you broke through an imperfection and evolved in some way.  You grew.

Being someone that wants to heal and teach others, I often feel that I am not qualified to teach until I am "perfect." I am writing a book about creating an incredible spiritual lifestyle yet I feel unqualified since I am not "perfectly healthy" or "completely beyond the ego." 

Yet when I look at where I was a year ago, getting sick every other week and stuck in my head, I realize the incredible progress I've made and how much others can really benefit from it.  Friends and family are already starting to come to me for help with their health which probably means I'm on to something.

Abraham says in the art of allowing workshop that "If the teacher waited until they were perfect before teaching, no teaching would take place."

If you want to start something, start.  Don't worry if you don't know all there is to know, that's the whole reason you are starting in the first place. 

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Try this exercise really quick.  Close your eyes and think of where you are right now and compare it to where you want to be (with work, school, wealth, relationships, anything), and notice how you feel on a scale of 1 to 10.  Got it?

Next, think of where you are right now and compare it to where you used to be and rate how you feel.

The results usually show that people feel overwhelmed or depressed when they compare their current self to their ideal self, since you are basically comparing yourself to infinity. Yet when you compare your current self to your old self, you feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Accepting the self isn't "I accept myself and unfortunately all these imperfections that I must overcome soon." It's "This is me, I got a lot of love inside. Here are all my imperfections which are really just seeds of joy waiting to be released and I love them."

Think about when you were a kid and you played with clay. If you were trying to make a figure of a dinosaur, and someone came over and gave you the PERFECT clay dinosaur already finished, how much fun would you have? The real fun is throwing down the clay, getting messy, and making your RETARDED-looking gimpyass dinosaur with your best friend.

That's what life is about. LIFE IS NOT PERFECT and because it is not "perfect", IT IS PERFECT. So why should you TRY to be "perfect" when you already ARE. "I AM" is "I am alive", I am life, I am perfect just by BEING.

People just want to be accepted and loved.  It starts with yourself.  Get that handled by learning how to accept yourself with all your imperfections, allowing abundance to flow, and start loving your imperfect life.

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16 Responses to “Is the Need for Perfection Holding You Back?”

  1. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    I found that before I could embrace Humanity in general, I had to embrace my own. Perfection doesn’t count, in terms of inner substance of character. Embracing Imperfection is what does.

    Bravo Ryan! You’ve done a lot of helaing in just one year! Well done.

  2. Marco Says:

    Beautiful Post, Ryan. This paragraph particularly resonated with me…

    “I’ve also realized that perfection is a state that we can NEVER experience. Something that is complete or perfect is dead. Why? Because its not growing. Growth is life.”

    beautiful, Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL!

    Peace out

  3. Ryan Says:

    I appreciate the good words Sue Ann, I’m starting to see now that by being ok with my own imperfections, I can be ok with other’s imperfections as well.
    Marco, I really enjoy hearing that these posts are helpful and inspiring, so thanks for posting 🙂

  4. Bart Says:

    This got me thinking about art, and nature.

    What’s interesting, is that you hear from a lot of people about the look and feel of your blog. (BTW, thanks for the video!) One thing that gives it that sense of earthy refreshment is it’s IMPERFECTION. Look at the root outgrowths in the corners, see the non-homogeneous backdrop.

    You’ve already been letting others enjoy the bliss of imperfection, and maybe didn’t know it.

    In the movie The Last Samurai, Katsumoto tells Cruise something to the effect that he is writing a poem and searching for a perfect cherry blossom and that if you spent your whole life looking, your life would not have been wasted. In the end, Katsumoto reveals that the secret in his death throws that all of the cherry blossoms were perfect.

    Often we see a photo of something, a perfect visual representation of it, we often don’t think of it as art. But when we see a great artist paint it, not in perfection, but in it’s true nature, it becomes beautiful. Powerful art transfers the essence of it.

    A nice looking tree has bends, knots, gnarls, sway. Straight lines, solid colors, sharp corners just don’t feel natural.

    One thing that you mentioned about Stephane that I really like too, is that he really doesn’t give a crap – he just accepts himself. He doesn’t just act like he doesn’t care, he actually doesn’t give a flying fartdoodle about the judgements of others.

    Back to the blossoms though – I make the argument that there is perfection, perfection in the acceptance of being.

  5. Ryan Says:

    Wow man, that was beautiful. I think that was the first time I stopped and became present after reading a comment. You’re totally right about the imperfection in the roots and the corners, I didn’t even think about it that way. The imperfection makes it real, I suppose, like nature. True nature is beautiful, as you mention, with all its unique imperfections….thanks Bart.

  6. Andielle Says:

    Truth, insight and strength. Beautiful post

  7. Experiencing Energy Healing | Yang Town Says:

    […] I thank him and go home.  That night I did not shower but again drank a few beers and partied.  The next day, however, was anything BUT normal.  The entire day I felt like I was lighter, almost like I was floating just a little.  I wrote in my journal about some realizations about myself and life.  I accepted myself on a whole new level and came to terms with my own imperfections (which led to this post).  […]

  8. Aidin Says:

    You guys inspire me. I enjoy programming game projects as a hobby and I feel I become more perfectionist because of it. I have often deliberately written sloppy code to give some room for growth. I also started writing funny comments and log messages as art. This made me think if not most problem solving and logical thinking skills have perfectionism side effects – like the airplane pilot that always gets corrected by his control tower.

  9. Ryan Says:

    Hey Aidin. Yeah sometimes it’s good to “throw some shit on the wall and see what sticks” just to get the creative juices flowing. Cheers.

  10. Penis therapy Says:

    Absolutely agree, in that you have to live with imperfections both with yourself, and with your partner. That’s supposed to be a part of life. But the most important thing is too keep on the “improvement mode” all the time, and not give up at anything.

  11. Heather @ Mortgage Loan Modification Says:

    I myself have started many projects that go undone. This piece you wrote is very inspring because I have realized that not everything I do needs to be perfect especially trying to parent 2 kids. That is always a difficult thing feeling like you are the worst parent in the world when you strive to be the best. My husband is also an inspiration, he jumped headfirst into learning about what the internet could do for our family and has learned so much in the past 4 years.

  12. Ray @ public golf courses Says:

    Abraham said “If you want to start something, start. Don’t worry if you don’t know all there is to know, that’s the whole reason you are starting in the first place”
    This is a lesson that I had to learn before I had the confidence to start new projects. If we worry about perfection, we never finish anything.

    information about public golf courses

  13. Bill @ Lawn Mower Reviews Says:

    Hi Ryan,
    First up I love the wordpress theme. What is it called?

    “Perfectionism causes us to stop just before the end of something” – This is so true. While I don’t really suffer from this myself, I knew someone in my last job who had a real problem with perfection. He was constantly palming off projects to me that he thought he couldn’t do or finish, and the truth was that they were pretty good already. I guess it’s a type of ‘disease’ in a way, but I suppose there could be worse things to suffer from. I’ve found that perfectionists may suffer from these kind of symptoms, but generally they are also pretty successful people, even if they may be suffering inside.
    Thanks for the read.
    All the best
    Bill Jenkins

  14. Tim@Learn Option Trading Says:

    Excellent Post Ryan. When you said “It’s actually a form of not accepting the self”—it really resonated with me. I can totally relate to almost everything you said. Most of my adult life is riddled with projects that I started but never finished—because I was afraid of failing; not doing it perfectly. Unfortunately, that was my motto: If I can do it perfectly why do it at all. I realize today that perfection, for me; is a pathological illusion—it doesn’t exist. Just like you said Ryan in your own way—”perfection is a state that we can NEVER experience”. I learned that ALL of my perfectionism was compensatory behavior; me compensating because I felt less than or I wasn’t good enough; I didn’t measure up.

    Today, I tell myself “I’m perfectly imperfect” and when I feel the inner critic rearing its ugly head I calmly remember—”This too shall pass”.

  15. Lucy@Clinica de Estetica Says:

    Very inspiring post. I will always keep this in my mind and heart. No one is perfect… that’s why pencils have erasers. Thanks.

  16. Hiedi Sahr Says:

    This is a very important concept. Perfectionism is the enemy of both happiness and success. It is a tendency everyone in my family has so it tends to be self-perpetuating as we compete with each other for who’s more perfect. Makes family holidays a lot of fun :).

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