The Perils of Perfection

The Perils of Perfection

How do you feel about perfection?

I had a discussion with someone recently on this topic, where we had to agree to disagree.


She argued that we are all perfect just the way we are, and that it is only because I haven’t done enough self-work that I couldn’t recognise that and refused to acknowledge other people’s perfection.

My perspective is somewhat different. I don’t believe perfection is possible.

My belief is that we are all flawed, and that it’s okay to be imperfect. That we are acceptable – lovable, valuable – with all our imperfections. And that striving to be perfect is quite damaging and dangerous.

Perhaps our disagreement is just about words – maybe she doesn’t give the word ‘perfect’ the same meaning that I do, and that psychology generally does.

Nuances of meaning

For me, the difference can be described by two songs. First, we have Alanis Morissette’s Perfect  – ‘we’ll love you, just the way you are, if you’re perfect’ – and of course you never can be. Internalised unrealistic expectations from childhood are considered one of the major reasons for this issue.

On the other hand, there’s Bruno Mars with Just the Way You Are – ‘because you’re amazing, just the way you are’. No need to be perfect. Someone will love even the things you see as imperfections, and they will love you despite the things they perceive as imperfections, too.

If you want to read some more about perfectionism, I’ve written a detailed post about it here.

So, what helps with perfectionism?

Magical Tapping

Listening to one of the talks from the 10th Annual Tapping World Summit a little while back, I was really struck by something the host, Jessica Ortner, said. ‘You cannot hate yourself happy!’ This is so true, and really important.

You can’t hate yourself happy, or healthy, or creative.

Sometimes, you might try to pressure yourself into making good choices by criticising what you’re currently doing. However, it doesn’t work. Criticising yourself and trying to punish yourself simply stresses you out.

It’s like stabbing yourself in the back with ten swords. It doesn’t actually prod you into action!

When you are stressed, your cortisol levels rise. This makes it harder for you to think creatively, or to feel happy. It also depresses your immune system and encourages your body to put on weight for safety. It messes with your sleep, too.

So, hating on yourself will make you feel worse emotionally, think less innovatively, and be less healthy.

The solution is to love yourself, just the way you are!

Magical tapping helps with this. It allows you to release emotional blocks, and the setup phrase itself incorporates ideas of self-compassion, acceptance and forgiveness. I recorded a tapping session for this, which you’ll find here.

 Perfectionism spread


You’ll find a sample reading using this spread below. You could also use the spread questions as journal prompts. Or try using the answers the cards give you as part of your magical tapping 🙂

Perfection Spell

These thoughts on perfectionism were sparked by the Ten of Swords, so that seems like a good starting point for a spell. Thinking about loving yourself happy made me choose the Ace of Cups as the desired outcome.

Between these two, allow Spirit to choose the card for what will help you move from one to the other.

As you can see on my altar, I placed a string of rose quartz around this, to represent creating a kind, compassionate atmosphere. I also placed clear quartz, very cleansing, over the Ten of Swords and a fluorite heart over the Ace of Cups, good for banishing negative thoughts. Even if you just have one of these stones, it would be good to place with your cards.

For the energy I need, I got the King of Wands, which I paired with a Tiger’s Eye, representing bravery and honesty. Of course, you don’t need a crystal with every card, but if you feel like try choosing what seems to go best with the card you’ve drawn here.

You can also think about candle colours: white for purifying, pink for compassion, blue for clarity and honesty.

Create sacred space to lay these cards in. For me, that involves calling on the elements and the Goddess. Ritual is a great way to start the trance process, getting yourself into the right mental and emotional state to connect with the Divine, however you perceive that.

Connect with the energy of that centre card, opening yourself to commune with Spirit. You want to know exactly how to bring this energy into your life at this time.
You could visualise the card while practicing Balancing Breath, allowing its messages to come to you. Or you could get the image clear in your mind, and then imagine the card growing ever larger until you can step into it and interact with the objects, people and animals you find there. Even if you don’t get a clear message at the time, be open to flashes of insight over the following days, and/or in your dreams.

Sample Reading

1) How is perfectionism affecting you? – The World

Yikes, looks like it’s pervading my entire world view!

The tarot loves its little jokes, as one frequent key word for the World is Perfection. Yet, another is Completion, the end of a cycle.

While perfectionism may currently be rather all-pervasive, I can end it!

2) How can you face your fears of being imperfect? – The Lovers

These two flamingos creating a heart with their beaks in some ways emphasises the aspects of Self side of this card. Though you could also see them as lovebirds 💞

What this reminds me of is the need to see my Shadow and meet it with loving kindness. The more I can do this, the easier it will be to face my fears.

3) What or who can help you challenge your negative self-talk? – Nine of Pentacles

The peacock is often accused of being vain. Really, though, it is trying to show its health and strengths to a potential partner.

Thinking about my strengths, owning and celebrating them, sounds like a good way to challenge that critical inner voice. Like a gratitude practice that challenges the feeling that the world is a hard place, a conscious practice of honouring my abilities sounds do-able.

4) What bigger perspective might you consider? – Eight of Cups

This is an unusual Eight of Cups.

Generally, the card suggests leaving emotion behind and looking for higher ground. Instead, what this version asks of me is to go through the abyss of emotional depths. The goal remains the same, though, a more spiritual, loving perspective.

5) How can you show yourself greater compassion? – Knight of Pentacles

Ha ha, I can’t believe how often I get this card. Slow and steady, slow and steady!
I also see the suggestion to explore what I can do physically and practically to show myself compassion. Clearly, that doesn’t mean gorging on chocolate. Still, it might mean altering my exercise routine, having the odd candlelit bath, or spending some time in the garden 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on perfection, and around this spread and spell. And if you would like some help with doing a reading around this, with magical tapping, or with setting up your spell, feel free to comment, or get in touch.




  1. Ellen on May 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the spread Chloe. I am going to try it right now I and will post it on my IG
    I will remember the phrase: you can’t hate yourself happy. Self love is so much more effective. Let’s remind ourselves we’re only human.

    • Chloe on May 7, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Yes, that phrase really stuck with me, too 🙂 As you say, we’re only human, and it’s good to get to a place where you’re okay with that.
      So glad you had such a perfect reading with this spread – I loved the cards you drew for it! And a Major at the heart of things, too 😉

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