There are many.
It’s conditional. We equate love (receiving it more than giving it, but sometimes that too) with an absurd non-mathematical equation: If I do this, I’ll be loved. If I don’t do that, I won’t.
It’s illusory. The premise that perfectionism is built on is faulty. That is; there’s something fundamentally wrong with us that needs to be changed before we can amount to anything.
It’s a negotiation you can never win. That’s because the target keeps moving, and by the standards a perfectionist keeps, you’ll always fall short.
It’s based in control. If you can control everything, no one will find out how much of a sham you (think) you are.
It’s based in fear. And the false belief that if we just work a little harder, or achieve a little more, or do a little better, we’ll be able to right the wrongs we’ve either experienced or believe we’ve perpetrated as children for being who we are.
It’s shame-based. We’ve identified with something as a child that we (incorrectly) believe makes us bad, wrong, unlovable, or worst ”“ crazy, evil, psychotic, deviant, fucked-up, beyond hope ”“ simply because of an action we took or a desire we had.
So if we just work hard enough, thereby fixing ourselves, the identification with what’s wrong with us will disappear.
A life in the Arts can sometimes promote perfectionism. In the Arts in general, and in many schools of thought specifically, as much as we are taught to be our individual selves, we often succumb to the pressures of perfectionism. If we do something perfectly, we’ll get the job. If we execute a pirouette flawlessly, we’ll be adored. If we just create something a little better than someone else, we’ll be rewarded.
All these points work against our ability to optimally create with freedom, passion and zero regard for the end results.
What if we just accepted once and for all the truth that we’re all perfectly imperfect?
And in being so, just like everyone else on the planet, we are still deserving of love, creative fulfillment, an outrageously awesome career we love, happiness, kick-ass relationships, breakthroughs in our work and in self-healing.
Perfectionism runs counter to what we desire in our hearts. It’s all about maintaining appearances and making us look good. Real surrender to the moment without attachments or worrying about the end results is what we seek.
Think about the lesson Michelangelo taught us when he sculpted his masterpiece, David. When asked how he carved such a beautiful statue from a marble slab, he reportedly said, “In this marble I saw David. All I needed to do was take that piece of marble and chip away the excess stone so he could be revealed.”
We are already enough. Everything we need is already a part of us. We sometimes have to chip away at the stuff that holds us back from revealing our own beauty, power, and grace ”“ our true unconditional self. But what we discover is that it’s been there all along. Trying to do something to fix what doesn’t need fixing isn’t going to do it.
Start giving yourself the unconditional love you sought outside yourself through other people, achievements, successes, or victories ”“ which is all conditional.
The biggest challenge is to accept ourselves for where (and who) we are right now. Because the irony is, if we keep waiting for the imagined future to happen before we do it . . . we’ll be waiting an eternity.
Actors in video: Justene Alpert and Brian Flaccus