Perfection Paralysis

The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ can be spelled ‘Paralysis.’” Winston Churchill

Whether it is a blank screen, canvas or paper, we have all had that moment that we are frozen because we just can’t seem to get anything out. We mistakenly think that if it isn’t perfect, why bother or it’s just never going to be right. And while most of us can recognize how that limits us with our actions, it is important to understand that we do the same thing when it comes to our emotional growth. Unless we can experience the quantum leap to perfection, most of us don’t bother and mistake progress for stagnation. Because we don’t always feel better the day after we start a new “wellness” routine, we assign an all or nothing approach. We tell ourselves that unless we can stop being angry, compulsive or whatever other trait we want to change – then it is impossible. The approach that we want to be perfect or somehow rid ourselves of our “bad” qualities, however, will keep us completely paralyzed and stop us from achieving meaningful change. Instead, we want to shift our perspective and decide to embrace our humanness and imperfection. When we do that we step outside of our perfection paralysis and learn that the goal is not to rid ourselves of our qualities – but to learn their gifts and how to use our qualities. Imagine being able to use your anger to stand up for yourself or others instead of screaming at others when you feel powerless. That is what becomes possible when we stop expecting perfection – we can exact meaningful and loving change.

Weekly Path to Peace: Give up emotional perfection.

  • How is perfection paralysis stopping you from making real changes in your life? Do you tell yourself that it is impossible to change? Do you hate parts of yourself and expect or wish that you would simply stop doing whatever it is you hate? Look at all the ways you expect perfection and how you use it as an excuse not to change.
  • If you knew that the goal of change was not perfection, but to find the gifts of your imperfect parts, what is one thing you could do this week to break out of your paralysis. Could you be more kind to your angry self? Could you bring understanding to the part of you that continues to make mistakes? Let yourself create one loving act to help you break out of your current state.