In this week’s Blog and Newsletter we are looking at ‘The Curse of Spiritual Perfectionism’…
Which is what exactly? It’s the curse of believing that to live as a spiritual being and to live a spiritual life, we need to do so perfectly. We need to be perfectly in the light at all times. We need to be perfectly present and aligned to our truth always. We need to be perfectly enlightened to please the Divine and to class ourselves as truly spiritual. We’re not allowed to be angry. We’re not allowed to think so called ‘bad thoughts’. We’re not allowed to drift away from our spiritual path and we’re not allowed to do or be anything that is not perfectly divine. I don’t know about you, but this all sounds very exhausting!
Most of us know what it means to be a perfectionist…I’m a recovering perfectionist myself! Perfectionism is something I regularly work on within myself, as I journey through this life. And I’m talking to you today about spiritual perfection because I know only too well how it can have a sneaky way of taking over, without us even realising it.
When we view spirituality from a perfectionist’s point of view, we can become too focused upon, or even obsessed with, an end goal. The end goal of spiritual perfectionism is usually that of spiritual purity and enlightenment. Viewing our spiritual path in this way immediately sets us up for failure. We become so caught up ‘doing’ spirituality perfectly, that we lose sight of the ultimate truth, that the spiritual path is a way of life and an experience of ‘being’…not doing.
It’s not something we achieve and therefore it isn’t something we can ever fail at. The spiritual path consists of all that is…the light, the dark, the true authentic self…and the false shadow self. We are spiritual beings living a human journey and part of being human is to EXPERIENCE life fully and experience ourselves fully…our light and our dark.
So why do so many of us become spiritual perfectionists? Well, for the same reason that underlies all types perfectionism…we have a conscious, or subconscious belief, that we are not good enough. I’d like you to imagine a large tree…and I want you to imagine that the roots of this tree symbolise the core belief ‘I’m not good enough’. And then I want you to imagine that the branches of the tree are symbolic of the beliefs, fears and behaviours that are born from this core belief around not being good enough.
So the most common branches might be:
The belief that we need to be accepted by others, in order to feel good enough.A belief that we need to live our lives seeking the approval of others, sometimes even strangers. So we live our lives according to what we think we ‘should’ be doing, to gain this acceptance and approval and therefore feel good enough. We basically place more importance on what others think of us, instead of how we really feel and what we really want.
We fear failure and therefore place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve and be the best, only then will we feel good enough.
We might fear rejection and so we give too much, at the sacrifice of ourselves, in order to be liked and accepted by others. We become the nurturers, the care-takers…but of everyone else, not ourselves.
We place such high expectations upon ourselves and when we don’t reach those expectations, we believe we have failed and experience feelings of embarrassment, guilt and shame.
We believe we have to perfect in every way and there tends to be no middle ground. Perfectionism is a very black and white, all or nothing way of thinking.
So how does spiritual perfectionism show itself in our lives? Well the obvious one, is believing that we need to be perfectly spiritual, which holds different meanings for different people. But some common ways are:
We believe that spirituality is a goal, that it’s something to achieve and that if we ‘slip up’ by forgetting to meditate, making a human mistake, or drifting away from our path temporarily that we have failed at spirituality and not achieved our goal.
We might feel like we have to act in a certain way, to fit in with various different kinds of spiritual groups. So we might allow ourselves to go along with things that aren’t aligned with our own spiritual truth, or to look and act a certain way, to gain the acceptance of our fellow spiritual peers.
We might feel that in order to be truly spiritual we have to be calm, present and balanced always. We must never experience anger or other lower vibrational thoughts and feelings. If we do, we have failed at being spiritual, let ourselves down and we may feel that we have let down the Divine – whether that be God, Goddess, or the Universe and so on. We may then even reject the spiritual path completely, because we have an all or nothing attitude.
The list can go on and on…but the point is, that underlying all of these various different branches, is the belief ‘I’m not good enough’. Which unfortunately is a very common core belief.
So how can we heal these perfectionist tendencies?
Well the first step is to bring consciousness to the part of you that believes it needs to be perfect. Where did it come from? Where did you learn that you need to be perfect, or you’re not good enough? Who did you learn it from?
When we start to ask ourselves these important questions, we can begin to understand why we think, feel and act in certain ways. Our first introduction to the Divine, whether it be God or Goddess and so on…is through our parents or main male and female figures in our lives. Our father represents the Divine Father and our mother represents the Divine Mother.
So if we look at the strong beliefs perfectionists hold, around seeking approval and acceptance from others…we can see how in spiritual perfectionism we feel that in order to be accepted by the Divine, or to please the Divine, we have to be perfect; that we can’t make mistakes, that we have to be 100% dedicated to our spiritual path every single day, and if not then we are failing at spirituality somehow.
Perhaps ask yourself, did you feel the need to gain acceptance from your parents? Did you feel like you had to perfect, to be loved and accepted? Did you always want to please them? Do you still feel this way now? If so, it makes sense that you would feel now that you have to be perfect to be accepted by the Divine.
The ultimate truth is, that we are here to be REAL. Not perfect…REAL. We are souls who chose to incarnate into this life, to remember…to evolve…to align ourselves with our truth…and to live fully and experience all aspects of what it’s like to be human. There never has been and never will be, a human being on this Earth who is perfect.
Our life mission and our Divine life purpose is not to achieve perfection, it’s not to DO spirituality perfectly…it is to heal…to grow….to be present…to experience it ALL…the light…and the dark within…to have fun and experience joy…and to come home to our true, authentic selves. There is nothing more Divine than true self living. You are an embodiment of the Divine – both light and dark, true self and shadow self. You are here to embrace all that you are – because all of you is Divine.
Your spiritual path is a way of life…there is no end goal, no destination to reach, no enlightenment to attain. So I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’ll never succeed at spirituality because there’s absolutely nothing to achieve!
Devotion to your spiritual path is a beautiful offering to the Divine…but remember….
Your spiritual path is not about pleasing others, including the Divine, it is about coming home to your true, authentic self.
Your spiritual path is not about living a perfect spiritual life…it is about balance and enjoying and experiencing ALL of life.
Spiritual Living is REAL living.
It may help you to look at the word REAL…
R-E-A-L…and imagine that it stands for the following:
R – Remember that you are an embodiment of the Divine – both light and shadow.
E – Evolve beyond the false self-beliefs, they never have been and never will be rooted in your true, authentic, Divine self.
A – Align your life with your desires and passions, for they will guide you to your ultimate Divine life purpose.
L – Live according to your own spiritual truth, listen to the voice within and stay true to who you are…always.
It might be useful to write these truths down and remind yourself of them daily…it can really help to give a brand new, much more true meaning to the roots of that tree that we spoke about earlier…and when you change the meaning of the roots…the branches have no choice but to transform into new, much more authentic beliefs and behaviours.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope that you’ve learned something here today and you’ll take something positive from these teachings. If true self living is something you feel drawn to, then I’d love to invite you to join myself and Sam on our online course Master True Self Esteem in 10 Days, which can be found here.
During the 10 days we offer teachings and meditations that will guide you back to your true authentic self, so that you can experience the miracle of true self living. This is what we feel true self esteem really is.
I hold space for you to love, honour and embody ALL that you are…because you always have been and always will be, truly, authentically, deeply Divine…body, mind and spirit.