Saturday, January 03, 2009

The suffering caused by perfectionism

Sometimes I find myself truly pleading with people to let go of perfectionism. And often they agree with me in a surface sort of way but it's clear that underneath they still secretly believe that they should do everything they can to be as perfect as they can. Then inevitably the day comes when that is exposed for what it is - the most pernicious form of narcissistic self-worship going. And the suffering that results is truly great.

I think the following paragraph is full of insight. In fact, you could stop after the first two sentences and it will do you a world of good!

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

--Anne Lamott


  1. Anonymous8:45 AM

    whew, i needed that...

  2. Ha! Don't we all?

    And we come by it honestly. The culture conditions us to believe that striving for perfection is the way to go!


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