Bruce Lee warns on the dangers of chasing perfectionism under the guise of self-improvement.
If you are cursed with perfectionism, then you’re absolutely sunk. This ideal is a yardstick which always gives you the opportunity to browbeat yourself, to berate yourself and others. Since this ideal is an impossibility, you can never live up to it. You are merely in love with this ideal, and there is no end to the self-torture, to the self-nagging, self-castrating. It hides under the mask of “self-improvement.” It never works.
Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live for their image.
Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that. This again is the curse of the ideal. The curse is that you should not be what you are. Every external control, even internalized external control — “you should” — interferes with the healthy working of the organism. There is only one thing that should control the situation. If you understand the situation that you are in, and let the situation that you are in control your actions, then you learn how to cope with life.
The less confident we are in ourselves, the less we are in touch with ourselves and the world, the more we want to control.
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