Don't Delay

Understanding procrastination and how to achieve our goals

Words of Healing for Perfectionists: Forget Your Perfect Offering

Words of healing for perfectionists.

Leonard Cohen
Far too many of us feel the unbearable weight of our perfectionism. These unrealistic expectations, often internalized as the expectations of others, are a sickness within us. Research consistently shows that this maladaptive perfectionism is related to our unhappiness, distress and our inability to successfully pursue our goals. In this brief post today, I offer up a poet's voice with words of healing.

When we struggle with our internal battles, long-held irrational thoughts, emotional turmoil and spiritual pain, we can find healing in the most unexpected places. Art and music often can play a role in our healing.

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Today, in this spirit, I offer up a poet's words for the perfectionist within us to ponder. The poet needs little by way of formal introduction. It is the Canadian, Leonard Cohen. A man who has influenced generations with his music, song-writing, novels and poetry. Since the 1960's, he has made his unique contribution artistically, challenging us to see and think in a different way.

It is this challenge we have to embrace in the work of self-change. We have to challenge irrational beliefs. We have to challenge habitual action. We have to challenge the usual way we see things. Cohen can help us do this with these words from his song, Anthem. I think those of us who struggle with our own perfectionism need to embrace these lyrics as a daily, if not hourly, refrain.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

What a hopeful message about our imperfection and the light that this brings in our lives. These words can remind each of us to do what we can daily, letting go of our "perfect offerings," knowing that "there is a crack in everything." Let's let that light get in.

Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where he specializes in the study of procrastination.

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