Perfectionism, Art and Life

Perfectionism and Rejection

Wow, I just named this post in a way loftier manner than perhaps this photo warrants. Then again, it helps make my point. Which is…

“Perfectionism” is a slippery slope when it comes to both Art… and Life.
Dictionary dot come defines perfectionism this way: “a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.”

My perfectionism rejected this photo for about 6 months.
It’s also rejected any number of impulses, ideas, experiences, personal self worth more times than I can count.
Good thing I’ve got longevity in my family! I’m quite determined to outlive and give the ultimate boot to the demon Perfectionism!


Perfectionism is Mean

Let’s talk about this photo for a moment. It’s not perfect, by my typical standards. I do love the Maxfield Parrish vibe up in the sky, I like the vertical orientation… it lends the expansive feeling that I was going for. I like the sun and lens flare. But I don’t think it’s one of my very best shots. In fact, for quite awhile I didn’t think it was worth sharing at all. I almost deleted it. But I decided to wait.

As a long time practitioner of Perfectionism, I’ve got the routine down. Anything that doesn’t measure up gets the boot. Period. That’s what this mindset says.
It’s harsh. Allowed free reign, it doesn’t stay contained… it’ll weasel its way beyond your artistic decisions into relationships, feelings, life decisions, words, actions… all aspects of life. And that’s where it can get ugly.

Within the thrall of Perfectionism, there is no air. No inspiration. No laughter, joy, vision, freedom. Zip.

There IS a very small cell, some chains, a lock (or several) and a monstrous mean guard at the gate.
Hey, it’s a “thing”. Some people live that way all of their lives.
It’s also a survival instinct learned at an early age… and ultimately (though this may be hard to hear) is a Choice.

At least, that’s what I’ve determined from living with it for far too long, observing it – and taking definitive steps to release it’s choke hold on my life.


I’m finally being successful at the Perfectionism Release Program, so I know letting go of this is possible – and necessary, IF you’re interested in living an inspired life.

There IS ‘Perfect’ in the world… but only if you let go and allow freedom, if only for a moment. In fact, those sublime moments of freedom are perfect unto themselves. There are other perfect things too. Babies are perfect. Some sunrises, sunsets, God… just a few things that by there very nature are perfect.

But the minute you add the ill-fated “ism” to “Perfection”… you’re in trouble.
Perfectionism assumes it knows what is perfect. Which is silly, because truly perfect things have nothing to do with you or what you know or think you know.
Perfectionism is presumptuous. It’s rude. It’s judgmental. It’s limiting. It’s painful.

For me… it was also a mechanism that I pressed into action to try and stay ahead of the expectations of a brilliant and perfectionistic father whom I adored.
It worked for awhile, but at great cost to my wildly awesome imagination and joyful self.
Perfectionism meant well – it was trying to keep me safe, as was my dad. They both did the very best they could.

They’ve both been forgiven and truly loved for their honest intent. That was a turning point.

Producing Art… living your life as an Art… just thinking in an Artful way requires that you give yourself a lot of permission. Permission to dream outside the box, permission to be messy, fail, succeed, feel different, think different, all that stuff. It’s not perfect. But then what IS perfect when applied to Artfulness?

If you’re driven by the big “P” of perfectionism… forgiving it stops it in its tracks for a moment. Just long enough to see that there is a whole, entire, light-filled world beyond it. In that instant, you have a choice. (which in and of itself is a miracle!).


You can choose to continue letting go, letting light in, letting ideas flow, letting inspiration start to unfold in whatever way it needs to so it can be alive again.
You can choose life over a slowly closing noose on your neck. You can choose freedom.

You have to be prepared to NOT judge yourself.
You have to be prepared to laugh again, welcome delightful surprises, experience your soul’s voice in new and wonderfully startling ways.
You have to post a photo that didn’t make the “perfectionism” cut 6 months ago… but which is pretty and has value anyway.

Or you can choose to go back to your cell, close the door and ask the monstrous mean guard at the gate if he knows any “Knock-Knock” jokes.
He probably doesn’t.