Perfectionism vs. Mindfulness


I am a perfectionist or, in other words, I aspire to something that can’t happen.

I have spent my whole life measuring myself against an ideal set so ridiculously high that I have never reached it, and when I did, I found a new Thing I Needed To Be Okay.

That cycle gets old.

I then dive into what Dr. Kevin Leman calls “Discouraged Perfectionism”--a depressing mindset that results in quitting hobbies, interests, academics, sports, whatever, because I’m not Instantly Perfect or, maybe worse, not even starting such things because I think I won’t be successful.

This is not a way to live.

I am given lots of (mostly unsolicited) advice about how to manage these internal events, ranging from teachers saying things like, “All the other kids have had the same amount of time for this paper. I don’t see why you can’t get it done,” to my parents telling me, “Just push through it!” There are kernels of truth in these statements, but I can’t utilize them when I’m coming from that place, that discouraged perfectionism, that impossibility of beginning to chip away at my ever-piling responsibilities because I certainly won’t be perfect at that either.

There is a lot of talk in the Agile community about my favorite way to climb out of this bottomless pit: mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness are scientifically proven to help anyone--especially my fellow discouraged perfectionists--let go of the main thing standing in our way: ourselves.

Practicing mindfulness is something I both do and encourage others to do while I’m