Perfectionism is not a Perfect Idea – 30 Oct 10


Two days ago I wrote about yoga teachers who want to be perfect in their exercise and their classes. I have felt many times however that perfectionism is a kind of western disease. I mean with this that it is very common in whatever country I have travelled. People live in a lot of pressure believing that they have to be the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect brother, the perfect grandfather, the perfect partner, the perfect friend, the perfect student and the perfect teacher. The problem is that this gives you a lot of stress, a lot of tension and in the end you suffer from burn-out or depression and you probably don’t do half of the things that you actually want to do simply because you are afraid to fail.

I personally make this experience again and again that you can be much happier if you do not have this kind of hesitation. If you see my English for example: I speak English although I know that there are mistakes in my grammar, pronunciation and even in my vocabulary! It has improved over the years but I have been giving lectures in English eight years ago already! You can imagine what the state of my English was in that time but I talked anyway and I am sure people understood what I wanted to say in that time, too!

What I want to say is, don’t wait with doing anything because you think you are not perfect. A perfectionist will have always hesitation but you can slowly leave this attitude behind if you start daring something! I have met people who said they would start speaking only when they will be perfect in the language. The truth is however, you will never be perfect and never have the power of expression that a native speaker has. So just start!

Perfectionism also creates inferiority complexes! You see anybody who does anything better than you and you feel bad. You want to sing and you know you ‘can sing a little bit’ but there is someone who sings much better, so you are shy! Your feet are twitching to the music but there is this other girl who looks so great in dancing, so how could you start dancing, you would look strange next to her! If you have this definition of perfection, you will never get to do anything! Even if you think you have reached perfection in some area of life, you will be so proud that it will be difficult not to show it off. And while you are just showing off how great you can sing, dance or do anything else like mental arithmetic, there will be someone just close by who suddenly is better than you. Someone who steals your show. How embarrassed will you be?

You see, you can try as much as you want, you will never reach full perfection better than anyone else and you will surely never be perfect in everything. The wish of being perfect is driven by the wish to be a master, an expert. If you can leave this wish and get into your mind that there is always a possibility to do it better, to learn something, you will be much happier. I like to think of myself as a student, not a teacher. Someone who tries everything to see how he can improve. Improvement is always possible but you are fine just as you are!

7 Replies to “Perfectionism is not a Perfect Idea – 30 Oct 10”

  1. Your right, Swami Ji. Perfectionism is so much in the way on the path to Real Happiness. I’m also this perfectionist, in my very personal things as well as in my business.Perfectionism is the start of a lot of personal suffering for me as …well as for others.
    But I’m getting better every day to be more relaxed and indulgent. I remember when you said during you visit in April: “Look how beautiful everything is, why are you bothering about one tiny detail you cannot change anyway.” This attitude helps me a lot in my every day life, stepping one step back and taking the ‘complete picture’ into view.
    Thank you for this insight!

  2. Today at my yoga class I have done perfect imperfect yoga – we started with handstands – this is not good for me – but i decided to try anyway …. and up – long and strong – stretching and tensing in my muscle corset – and ups I was standi…ng up there but bum down again … like an elephant … I felt myself so long – strong and good because I´m on the way .. and it´s okay ….
    Very interesting to come home reading your diary – and I´m totally agree with your words Swami … Thank you for your words every day – I like it .. and give me some words for my day to think … how full of love my life is – if I try to slow down and be in my mind … and accept my self as I am ….

  3. Your website is beautiful and so are your concepts. Great article on Perfectionism. I can relate! I’m always beating myself over the head for not doing better.

  4. This touches me a lot. I often deal with the fear of not being perfect, and it really does hold me back at times! I’m afraid to fail so sometimes I don’t even try. But how silly. I know in my mind that I am perfect just the way I am, including all my “flaws.” It’s good to be humble and realize that we can’t be flawless. And again, going deeper into myself, I find peace with my real Self and this is what matters to me.

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