Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Release From the Paralysis of Perfectionism

(This week's offering is a day early and a bit briefer than usual because I am off with some friends to do some of the shamanic ceremonies we have shared for over twenty-five years and have some fun and relaxation together at a lakeside cottage for a few days. Will return next week- maybe with pictures if I can figure out how to post them here!) 

"I once heard Robert Bly talking about poet William Stafford. Stafford apparently made it a practice, a commitment, to write one poem a day. Once, when an interviewer asked him what he did when the poem he produced was no good, Stafford replied, 'I lower my standards.'" ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer from "What We Ache For."

It feels counter-intuitive, but even as I tense a little at the idea of "lowering my standards," I am attracted to the possibilities it holds. When my desire to be fully present in each moment is derailed by distraction, what if I simply "lower my standards" to being present for this moment? What if, when I realize I have said or thought something unkind, betraying my resolution to be compassionate with all, I lowered my standards in this moment to being kind with my own failure to live true to my intentions in every moment? Surely that might increase my chances of being kind with others in the next moment.

Perfectionism makes us give up- No point in eating a healthy dinner because I didn't have my green smoothie this morning. Lowering our standards- letting go of our attachment to perfectionism- allows us to do our best in each moment, helps us begin fresh, again and again.

Oriah (c) 2013


  1. Thanks Oriah. I needed to hear that. I've been torturing myself over reducing my frequency of blogging so I can free up time and energy for more creativity. Much appreciate your wisdom. Have a wonderful time!

  2. What a lovely idea. It respects the fact of being human, and it is the loving assumption that we always do our best. The best that is possible on this day. It is better to work a moderate poem than no poem just because you feel that it might not be first class. It is a sign to our creativity (or other parts of our self) that they are appreciated, even if they are not in peak form.

  3. Oh my. Perfect words at the perfect time. Thank you for reminding me of this, especially today, when I'm going through a difficult time.

  4. Thank you. As a type 1 diabetic I constantly struggle with keeping my blood sugars level, and when they go haywire I tend to give up. This post is a beautiful reminder. Thank you so very much for posting this, and for reminding us to be gentle with ourselves.

  5. Dear Oriah, yes, this is something I've had to do in the last few years and it's made a difference with regard to my loving myself as I am and not as some ideal of youthful extremes. Peace.

  6. Love this. Thank you. I can't remember to be in the now all the time, so I appreciate your bits of wisdom.