Psych Central

Acceptance-Based Perfectionism Articles

From Neurosis to Nirvana

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Acceptance is the difference between neurosis and nirvana.  A single u-turn covers the entire journey from neurosis to nirvana.  What u-turn?  A choice to accept what is, one moment at a time.

Resources: Present Perfect/Lotus Effect

[image source]


Reality At Its Practical (Not Theoretical) Best

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

There are two ways to look at yourself and reality: a) dualistically—as either perfect or imperfect, or b) nondualistically—as neither perfect nor imperfect.  You have a choice of psychological software:  seeing the world as a discrepancy between “what is” and “what should be,” or seeing the world as it actually is.

The following ten points are a kind of new operating platform to serve as an antidote to the dichotomous/dualistic/all-or-nothing cognitive style that ruins our lives.

1.  A state that is so flawless, so immaculate, so error free, so complete that nothing can be added to it to make it better is a state beyond improvement.  That is theoretical perfection.


To Seek Approval is to Seek Dependence

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Chained to Approval

Let’s say that after months of unemployment I finally landed a nice job. You are my new boss, and you just bought a new car.  You ask me: “What do you think?  Like it?”  Not wanting to get on your bad side, I say yes.  You like my response.  You decide to mentor me.  I tolerate that.

Over time, however, I lose myself.   I get conditioned or programmed to look at the world as you do, to value what you value.  I become dependent on the subjectivity of your approval.  What started out as adaptive approval-seeking led to a partial loss of self.  In seeking your approval, I got carried away by the currents of your subjectivity.

Lesson learned: to seek approval is to seek dependence; to seek dependence is to lose your sense of self. 


There Are No Mistakes

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

No One Makes Mistakes On Purpose (Sabotage Notwithstanding)

The phrase “to make a mistake” implies purposive, conscious, planned action.  That’s utterly inaccurate: there are no intentional mistakes, no one consciously sets out to fail.

When we fail on purpose, when we make a mistake by design, we are actually succeeding with some kind of covert plan.  Therefore, even an act of conscious sabotage isn’t a mistake (to you) even if takes the form of a mistake (to others).

Bottom-line: No one makes mistakes because no one ever makes a mistake on purpose (sabotage notwithstanding). 


Happy New Spin to You!

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Spin within a Spin within a Spin

A year – astronomically – is a spin of a celestial object around a center of gravity.  In our – Earthly – case, a year is, of course, a spin around the Sun.

As we yearn for stability and balance in our lives, we are zipping around the Sun at an orbital speed of 30 kilometers per second (that’s 108,000 kilometers per hour) – and not down some well-paved straight line, but on a perpetual curve, without any chance of ever getting off this mind-boggling ride!

Ponder this as well: a straight line is but a geometrical abstraction.  We live in the world of tremendous centripetal/ego-centric forces and inevitable curvatures. 


Mindful New Year to You, Idealist!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Not every year can be necessarily a happy one, but even an unhappy year can be a mindful one. So, instead of wishing you a happy new year, I’d like to wish you a mindful one; not a year of presents but a year of presence!

In reviewing my 2010 posts, I’d like to replay this one theme, that of redefining perfection and of noticing the ordinary perfection all around us.

The ideas behind this theme represent my most treasured thoughts, the thoughts that have allowed me personally and professionally to leverage most wellbeing out of this one and only reality that we have.


Digital Age Hopes, Stone Age Acceptance

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Most weeks I pick up two or three random books (from a local store that sells used books).  Some of them I read cover to cover, others – I skim.  I find this routine of mine to be an essential part of my mind’s hygiene.  Random informational inputs challenge and change my mindware (my assumptions, my fund of knowledge, my association networks).

Here are two thought-notes (that I came across in my readings this past week) that struck a cord with me…


Self-Forgiveness Isn’t a Responsibility-Shirking Excuse

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Know all and you will pardon all.

Thomas A’Kempis

This is a follow-up to my previous post Rediscovering Your Motivational Innocence.  As I see it, when you dig down to the motivational depths of all behavior, there is only one core motive: pursuit of wellbeing – we all move away from pain towards pleasure.  It is my firm belief that all conscious existence is lined up along this motivational vector.  The rest is just variations on the theme.  How we go about pursuing our well-being is pre-determined by the intricate interplay of nature and nurture. 

Some of us do a better job than others – that is when we compare people to people.  But any such comparison is a comparison of apples and oranges.  After all, as I have noted before, similarity isn’t sameness and everyone is unique.  The difference between how any two people go about pursuing their wellbeing has to do with the differences between their histories. 

We are all doing the best we can no matter how much our best pales in comparison with personal and social ideals.  Your core motive is always the pursuit of wellbeing.  Your effort is always the best that it can be at any given moment in time.  Motivationally innocent and perfectly imperfect, you have nothing to blame yourself for. This isn’t some neurolaw argument that “my brain + my past made me do it.”  No.  You are not hiding behind your history.  You are simply taking your psychological determinism into account in an attempt to accept reality as it is. 

ps:

I realize that you might bristle at this idea.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.  We’ve been culturally conditioned to judge.  So, we aren’t particularly keen on forgiveness.  But let’s be clear: I am not proposing a legal reform or a new code of ethics (after all, the goals of law and psychology aren’t necessarily aligned), just a a path of wellbeing.

Resources:

360 of Compassion  and Self-Acceptance  and Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Buddha 


There Are No Mistakes

Friday, September 24th, 2010

No One Makes Mistakes On Purpose (Sabotage Notwithstanding)

I did my best… I did my best!
Dane Cook, comedian

The phrase “to make a mistake” implies purposive, conscious, planned action.  That’s utterly inaccurate: there are no intentional mistakes, no one consciously sets out to fail.

When we fail on purpose, when we make a mistake by design, we are actually succeeding with some kind of covert plan.  Therefore, even an act of conscious sabotage isn’t a mistake (to you) even if takes the form of a mistake (to others).

Bottom-line: No one makes mistakes because no one ever makes a mistake on purpose (sabotage notwithstanding). 


Check Reality Before You Live it

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Reality-check yourself with the following questions: 

  • How many realities are there right now?  One, two, none?
  • Is there just what is or is there something else there (on top of what is, in addition to what is)?
  • In this moment right now, is there one and only reality or does it come with a backpack of potential and fiction?
  • There you are, right?  Right.  Now, what about this ‘potential you’ that you think you can also be right now?  Where’s that one?
  • Where is your potential right now?  Show it to yourself!
  • What’s the difference between ‘potential’ and ‘possible’ and ‘hypothetical’ and ‘imaginary’?
  • As you look back at the history of facts, do you see any history of potential as well? 
  • Does reality short-change? Do you?

Check reality before you live it.  Certainly, before you judge it (yourself, included).

Enjoy all that is.  If “all that is” isn’t enough for you, what would be?

Resources:

Reviews of Present Perfect


 
Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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