Resiliency: Perfectionism vs. Excellence Revisited

I start feeling like I haven’t taken a bath or brushed and flossed my teeth or had a good meal or a restful night of sleep… if I stay away from writing for too long. Writing for me is like… mental hygiene, like soul-love. And I’ve not been able to find my way into the exposure of this blog of late…

This reminds me of a distinction between seeking perfection verses excellence, that I like. Perfectionism never arrives, is never enough, can never be enough, and in truth, is an addiction to the same mentality.

Seeking excellence in what one does, or is in life…, in contrast to perfectionism, stands one in a dynamic state of learning. One is thus able to exercise living and discernment… without descending into judgment of self or of others. Resiliency: Perfectionism vs. Excellence

I’ve recently come across a recommended resource on personal transformation titled The Undefended Self: Living the Pathwork by Susan Thesenga and Eva Pierrakos. More from this resource later, however following are some brief tastes that are in accord with our wild resilience.

More often than not, our negative judgments of what we see in ourselves are the internalized voices of parents or early authority figures, or of rigid cultural and religious codes of conduct. These judgments are not the true self-observer, but come from the idealized self-image that has embodied unrealistic standards of perfectionism against which we constantly measure ourselves. The first step in true self-observation is, therefore, to observe this perfectionism in ourselves. Whenever we lapse into harsh self-judgments, we need to step back and compassionately observe the judging voices.

We need to be able to identify the negative self-critical voices, but learn not to identify with them…

The most important work we do on ourselves is to align our attitude with honest and compassionate self-observation…

Impatience and demands on the self to change are always counterproductive. Self-judgment creates an attitude of rebellion against a harsh superego. If, however, we see clearly (without self-deception) and compassionately (without self-indulgence), then we can choose to change negative aspects. We are much more likely to want to change if we can simply and benignly assess who and what we are expressing at any moment, knowing that this is not all of who we are.

Learning to accept ourselves, to forgive and have compassion for every hidden thought and feeling, and every action, no matter how apparently unacceptable, is the same as learning to live in love. In strengthening our capacity to accept and forgive ourselves, to not reject, judge, or compare ourselves to others, we also strengthen our ability to love others. We can learn to love others unconditionally, without blindness, indulgence, or dependency, only when we can first learn to love ourselves.

Learning the universal values of love and truth must begin by practicing the attitudes of absolute truthfulness and unconditional acceptance toward ourselves. As we learn to identify with the observer self, rather than with any particular piece of distorted thinking or feeling, we can learn to welcome everything that comes to us in life as part of our spiritual growth. (pgs. 52-56)

I am struck that, during this era when Life’s invitation for personal and cultural transformation cries out to us from all about, our wild resilience requires of us this letting go of perfectionism, of self-judgment and self-denigration. We are where we are, in a self-created time of the Earth’s 6th Great Extinction, and we could not be other than where we are.
And now too is the time for re-membering the innate love-of-life we each come into the world with. It is that very love, that wild love that created wondrous bodies out of two cells coming together to make one, that knows how to move us forward in our journey of transformation. It is after all, a continuing journey of return into the excellence of who we might become, of who in some sense, we already are.


  1. Resiliency: Perfectionism vs. Excellence « wild resiliency blog!

    09/03/2008 at 2:53 pm

    […] Resiliency: Perfectionism vs. Excellence Revisited […]

  2. On Going Where I Fear to Tread « wild resiliency blog!

    09/03/2008 at 3:00 pm

    […] Going Where I Fear to Tread OK, I’ve spent enough of my life orienting toward fear and perfectionism that occasionally I realize the only way through such predatory energy lies in the cauldron of […]

  3. Mary Robertson

    09/17/2008 at 4:00 pm

    In the Craft of Creation
    One night while doing stained glass finishing a beveled glass window I entered the realm of excellence through a door much like Alice in Wonderland.
    The night began like any other night the design of the window was determining the finishing touches as my hands worked deftly as soldering, glass cutting, patina, and frame were being completed.
    A thought…a concept…became a real moment…were time stood still…and I realized I was not the artist…and the hours that evaporated into the night…was a sublime momentness where creation itself was working itself through my expression and space. The Artist was in the house. Here the bar of excellence had been raised into a perfection without bounds.
    When this quality of time and space had passed and the window had been completed I looked at it after it had been suspended in the light. It had a rareness not yet seen in my previous work. Pure symmetry that transfers a sense of wholeness or belonging when viewing the art.
    My life have had these moments like diamonds in the rough which let me know there is at-the-same-time, an all-at-onceness aligning to a Oneness that waits for us to experience itself/ourself as the great I AM THAT I AM.
    Perfection is a quality of excellence that reveals the beauty of the design.
    This exquisite portal of rarified existance seems to open when you are engaged in being present…then the ‘gift’ presents Itself!
    Mary Robertson, Vancouver BC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.