Sharon Salzberg

‘Clinging to our ideas of perfection isolates us from life and is a barrier to real love for ourselves. Perfection is a brittle state that generates a lot of anxiety, because achieving and maintaining unwavering standards—whether they’re internal or external—means we’re always under threat. We become focused on avoiding failure, and love for the self cannot be a refuge because it has become too conditional, too dependent on performance. As Oscar Wilde said in his play An Ideal Husband, “It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love.” And that means every last one of us.

The illusion that supports perfectionism is the notion that, with superior self-control, we can sustain a perfect life. But of course this is impossible. We may believe self-criticism will help make us “better,” or more lovable, or even liberate us from suffering. But this is a displaced—and unproductive—use of our energy and attention.’ (Real Love)

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