Curing Perfectionism

By Leo Gura - October 25, 2015 | 52 Comments

How to stop being so damn critical.


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Esteban says:

Thanks for all the videos.

Vibeke says:

This is exactly what we learn in 12 steps programs and the Serenity Prayer. Not accepting is playing God and fighting reality. Accepting make me happy and gratefull and take a lot of responsibility of my shoulders and futhermore give me a opportunity to live in the present moment instead of an imaginary what-if-world. In stead of fighting what is i can be at service for my self and others.

Max Gron says:

The serenity prayer arouses hatred, people will hate you just for Christian imperfect stupidity like death, the serenity prayer and saying “love your enemy”, all this is a lie and won’t get you any peace, just believe the truth, like Puritanism, because it’s true, it’s real perfection with real sinlessness.

Julian says:

Hey Leo, thanks for this video. I really resonated with what you were talking about, because it felt so familiar, and I noticed how this thing holds me back in every area of my life. I was already wondering why I was unhappy all the time, . but it’s just that I set such high standards for myself that I beat myself up each time I don’t meet them. And it’s true: deep down I hate myself and I can’t accept reality and I hate the world and I hate most other people. I said the same thing to my therapist but only now I realised that this is a personal issue and that ultimately I have to let go of my fantasies. So besides the 30 day challenge, are there any further steps I can work on?

kaz says:

I never got the email prompt for this video. I’m wondering if others on the mailing list got it or not please?

Stefan says:

I also didn’t get it this week.

iMemon says:

I got the email for this video

George Lawson says:

Check your junk mail – That’s where my emails end up for some reason.

Kirk says:

Perfection at the beginning set yourself up for failure and procrastination!!! Brilliant insight!!!

I learned my lesson the hardest way. These lessons are still so painful. They hold me back a great great deal.

I love you bro Leo

Neil says:


You really dug up some gems here Leo!

Took me back to your description in “Spiritual Enlightenment INTRO”.

This is soooo hard on one’s soul or core! It just keeps coming back ya know! Or maybe there’s just so much of it in us!?? However, one chooses to explain it. It is quite a profound death if viewed as “many metaphorical deaths occurring”.

I share your pain Kirk. And it was particularly neat to read Vibeke’s comments above as well. That explains some things to me.

Goodness, how important physical socialization is in developing the self control that we study. I use it as a tool. While it takes the desire for perfection many times to motivate one’s self they must also remember that they can never achieve perfection. It’s a fact by my statistics. So don’t let that drive you into seclusion, but like Leo said in the video that I mentioned above, most people just drift back into the influence of society never to return!

Max Gron says:

Perfectionism also set you up for failure and overworking yourself, and also sets you up for selfishness, being absolute perfection is selfish, it’s not thinking of your job’s standards, it’s thinking of your standards, it sets you up for people to cheapen your day and make your life awful and average giving you a bad image.

Ll says:

This hit home. Thank you.

Ramona says:

Damn…It was like watching myself talking… Great job with this video!

Dan says:

Thank you Leo for this video. This is something I definitely struggle with and one element of my personality I wrestle with.

I have always criticised society and others (including loved ones) about a whole range of things. This can be something as trivial as music they listen to, the movies/shows they watch or even how they dress. Its very difficult to control, I do admit that I am not happy when I do it and it can lead me to feel quite annoyed but at the same time I always want the best from what life has to offer.

This is definitely my biggest hang up about my criticisms of others and how people spend their time. I feel that for example there is more to this life than the same generic pop music, the same blockbuster movies or spending hours upon hours on Facebook. In turn I also find others are not accepting of me and that I dont follow the crowd and that there is something equally odd that I not only cannot accept these pop cultures but that I do not enjoy what everyone else is doing.

I agree that I must curb my negative attitude and I try managing this by avoiding the triggers or changing my thinking. Its not always easy when we are surrounded by the majority of those that are heavily influenced by the media.

Themightyq says:

Yes accept what you cannot change. It is a matter of degree. Most things are best accepted. Some things need to be criticized in order to better mankind, such as a tyranical government like N. Korea, even though the person criticizing and the reader may not be happy taking on such evils in the world.

Gerry says:

Exactly what I needed to be told. I haven’t even finished reading books on how to stop procrastination. Worst part is, I mistook being self-critical for being humble. I’ve been paralyzed because I analyzed too much and expected perfect results. Thank you for telling it like it is. Good news is, I’ve been watching your videos on YouTube and have accomplished more projects in this month than the whole year. I’ve lost ten pounds and completed three video projects that were shot three years ago. Thank you for your no nonsense, straight-forward, approach and just telling it like it is. So far, the best self-help videos I’ve looked at; and stayed with.

Nat says:

I was totally with you on this until you got to the snapping of the rubber band. This Pavlovian technique just seems like more criticism. You are just adding another layer by being critical of your criticism. Perhaps there is a way to become mindful of criticism and try to reframe the damaging thought that isn’t itself a negative reinforcement?

Leo Gura says:

Try it and you’ll see how mindful it makes you.

Kaz says:

Nat, Sometimes we need to unlearn things the same way we learned them. And if negative reinforcement, or whatever label you put on it, helps us to unlearn our old ugly ways, then so be it.

Castaneda says something similar about self-talk. “Stop self-talk the same we learnt it; compulsively and unwaveringly.”

Denis says:

I thought the same thing Nat. But it is only a 30 day challenge designed to make you more mindful. You don’t have to do it, instead you can simply observe your thoughts as they come and not judge them. I have been doing this for about 2 months now and it really works. I simply observe my thoughts without judgment and that brings awareness. It is very eye opening when you realize all the crazy thoughts that go through your head that have no basis in reality and all the criticizing we do without realizing it. Criticizing is just another way that the ego tries to strengthen itself.

Adnan Khalid says:

You are absolutely right but that pulling of rubber band is like your friend whos pushing for for good and hitting with love that isnt gonna hurt you. Change the perspective to something good, like leo said dont criticise anything not even the rubber band!!!

Sudu says:

Wonderful Video Leo , was an eye-opener in many ways! I find myself getting too rigid mentally at times and may be this has got to do with it. The inability to accept can be crippling and mentally exhausting and you hit the head on the nail here! Another question here, does being too perfect also lead to obsessive compulsive disorders?

Kirk says:

I only realize this after 45. I was criticizing my spouse who are doing a great job in many aspects but being perfectionist I didn’t realize my unappreciated looks or words demanded perfection. Same thing for my kids. Life became constant arguing and there were no peace in the family.

Perfection is not good!

I have since forced myself to gently forgive myself, my spouse, and our kids. I started to smile and laugh and use positive encouragement at home. It took two years to get a bit of progress day by day. This is very rewarding although at first it seems impossible. It can be done.

In terms of work project: Done is better than perfect.

Fellow listeners, I wish you the best!
Thank you Leo

Yvonne Douglas says:

Hi Leo, WOW! this is so me! I’ve an Excibition at a library, my first, I draw in Pencil, I’ve been told that my drawings are good enough, I need to do more drawings and I will do anything but draw, just like you said, I do anything rather than draw. I should be happy but I’m not. I am trapped because I am exactly what your talking about.

Uldis says:

Holy shit, Leo !

This one was the best !
No need to repeat what others said, but this video is a salvation to my life.
Just by watching it and becoming aware of my belief that “everything must be perfect” I changed my everyday existence from misery to happiness.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Uldis says:

And I was even not sure if I should watch this video, perfectionism ?, no it’s not about me

Now I think I should watch all your videos, cause I cannot know which ones relate to me upfront.

April says:

I used to be way worse with perfectionism. Actually this video has made me feel a sense of relief that I’ve managed to slim that perfectionism down through the years and settle down and become more realistic in that aspect. But I do think a level of it still rests in my subconscious and that it still pops up here and there. Always good to get these reminders though. I recently ended a relationship and I’m kind of on my case about all the things I screwed up and things I “should have” did or said earlier on; or the signs I “should’ve” seen way sooner. But that’s just unrealistic. I think a huge part of growth in life comes from screwing things up, acknowledging the facts, forgiving yourself and moving on as a wiser person. If you fight the mess and the mistakes, boy are you gonna drive yourself nuts. lol

Thanks for the videos!

Kerry says:

Thank you April, I’m gonna take on board and pass on what you said about growth…’I think a huge part of growth in life comes from screwing things up, acknowledging the facts, forgiving yourself and moving on as a wiser person’

Thanks man, this one came just in time

George Lawson says:

Has anyone read the book ‘Fuck it’ by John. C. Parkin?

JR says:

Just bought the audiobook. Thanks!

George Lawson says:

No worries. I’ve got another self help book from the Hay House series that I found useful – It’s called; ‘I Love Me.’ I’ve found that all my perfectionism issues stem from low self worth but if you actually do the exercises in this book it really turns that around. I’ll stress again though that you have to do the exercises for it to work. Good luck.

Michael says:

The maximiser is in the orange stage of spiral dynamics.

Adnan khalid says:

Leo you really transformed my life. Your work is so positive, motivational, so interesting. It really opens the third eye of the soul!!!

Love u and your work!!!

Jakob says:

I like this concept, but Im not sure if I have understod it completely. Right now Im working with 5 others with a project at school. Two of us does it all, the other 3 doesnt do a shit. Have I no right to criticize them, and just focus on my own work, make sure to get shit done and let the others be a part of the paper eventhough they havent done anything?

Leo Gura says:

You can have boundaries. That is different from unconscious criticism.

Hengame says:

Thank you, always i thought perfectionist is excellence but now you opened my mind, i accept all your argument, thank you for this Great vodeo

Mikael says:

Thanks Leo. Beautiful! I particularly like when you use yourself as an example. When you mention that you have had the same problem, everything you say becomes even more credible. If you think about it, hasn’t practically all important philosophers and artists struggled with either themselves or with something in their life before they came up with and presented a clear picture of the problem in question. Nice work!

/ Mikael

Mirella says:

Wow, I am a very sick person. I’ve never thought perfectionism is something that bad. After this video and the quiz I actually realized, why the hell I am so pissed off at others and myself almost all the time. It’s very true that takes the energy from me…it’s like I am energy vampire to myself. I’ll try the rubber band for sure, right now. Thank you for this ray of light! You are indeed a wise man, Leo. Please keep doing those amazing videos. Cheers!!

Jeanne says:

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly “… as a struggling and often paralyzed perfectionist, I need to accept the truth of these words. Doing something poorly until we learn to do it well is the process. Great video Leo, excellent insights and plenty of food for thought. Thank you.

Anita says:

Thanks for your generosity and insights Leo. You make such a difference.

joanne says:

I have difficulty knowing where to draw the line e.g. I registered and signed up and was given my username and password. I am seriously ADHD – losing things forgetting things etc so in a way I have to be “neurotic” and ensure that I follow a rigid “perfect” process to put things in places where I will find them. Thus I have to immediately copy past password etc onto my gmail and send it to myself. This tends to feed into my perfectionism problem!

Oscar says:

Thank you Leo. I identify with what you say. I am getting some results with meditation, but this is also something that i need to work out too.

GANESH says:

LEO Please let me know why people wants to be perfect,is it genetic or is this trait evolved from our ancestor´╗┐

Anna says:

Great video, thanks!
How do I draw a line between perfectionism and constructive feedback? How do I know if the feedback I want to give to a person that works for me, will be the “perfectionism” talking instead of “yep, it’s a good point, let’s improve this” type of message?

Bernardo says:

Hello irmao, i was noticing with more awereness this pattern of perfectionism that ran and still run like a sort of theme through my life. It’s really twisted because it blends on situations and in the mind goes like excellence, and the shitty part that was going unconscious is that after criticising, beside the fact that you are not being but resisting, i saw my ego playing a self checking, self-affirming petty atitude due some complex of inferiority to say to itself that I AM better or superior. The effect that meditation have on this kind of behaviors is ridiculously powerfull and it builds momentum, awareness alone crushes this behaviors with time. Thanks again for the content, and by the way the retraining technique is great for this lower parts of the self. HAVE A PEACEFULL WEEK!

Max Gron says:

Why don’t you just say it? Perfectionism isn’t perfect, it’s not ideal, it’s not excellent and it’s a mistake and a lie, and it’s an extremely sneaky way of being cheap, flawed and not having standards. Just be its opposition, anti-perfectionist, which is superior to perfectionism, anti-perfectionism is genuinely superior, it’s genuine excellence, and it’s genuinely average.

Paul says:

Hi Leo, this is a great video and a great 30 day challenge which also forces you to be conscious of your thoughts, in turn increasing awareness.

What got me started with changing my mindset on life was listening to Louise Hay, a motivational author big on affirmations. Then I came across your site looking for other approaches. It’s always refreshing to come back to listen to her work after some time. She mentions that all physical ailments come from thinking habits and constant criticism of oneself and others lead to arthritis. It is said that there are increased risks of getting arthritis if a first degree relative has it. This becomes a curious connection to how habitual thinking and neuroses can be passed along from our relatives.

Thank you for all your work, it would be an honor to shake your hand one day.

Fred says:

Thank you for all your insightful, gear-shifting videos. I am officially hooked as my iPad has now become my “magic lamp” and you have become my living “Genie.” Thank you, Leo. You are truly amazing.

Kylie says:

Hi Leo. Please help me.
I got a lot out of this video and I have a really important question.
First off, I don’t suffer from mental illness or anything of that nature but I really struggle with hyper perfectionism. It is way worse than I imagined, now that I am doing your challenge.
The first day was great. I felt happy, different, full of joy, I didn’t criticize as much by the end of the day, by using my rubber band.
I’m on my third day now. My mind is throwing a temper tantrums every time I snap this band. I snap it at least once every 60 seconds. At the least especially when I’m alone.
My tantrums sound like this. “This is fucking stupid.” Or, “I hate reality!” Or, “I’m going back to the way I was.” Sometimes I feel shaky, depressed, and dismissive.
I know that you are right and this is a way that I am procrastinating on my life’s purpose.
Please can you give me a tip on over coming this? Does it just take time? This is horrible!
I feel depressed and unmotivated… how do I shift my motivation to mastery? Help me!

Max Gron says:

The irony of perfectionism in trying to achieve optimal mental being is the belief doesn’t get you off the psychiatrist’s prescription, only anti-perfectionism does just for being anti-perfectionism, and that makes my day.

Max Gron says:

The picture of Leo under “Curing Perfectionism” is ironic, a symbolic picture that for some reason looks like Leo thinks you’re perfect. Anti-perfectionists usually think you’re not perfect and they insult your pseudo-philosophy, nobody cares, but I have a solution to this problem, the political equivalent and opposition to perfectionism, anti-perfectionism, which is twice as complicated, and makes the assertion not to promote good lives but secure basic rights and moral and legal obligations (they call that duties), so people can adopt any pursuits they like, which come to think of it sinks to an average lifestyle and can extend beyond politics, in your daily life, and I must delegate to this and bring it to the subconscious level. The doctor is happy to hear of this study of anti-perfectionism but it’s not a guarantee that I won’t go back on the meds, people can be very angry for the very reason that you’re not perfect, I say no, I’m doubling down on my imperfection and deliberately refusing to perfect my mind because subconsciously “normal isn’t perfection”, period, the doctor doesn’t know what he wants, first he wants imperfection, then he wants to perfect me, no way, if I’m not perfect I’m not perfect and that doesn’t need to change. I’m imperfect and I’m proud of it.

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