“I gotta get it right. I will never get it right no matter how hard I try, but I have to. If I don’t they’ll hate me. Everybody wants me to fail. They think I’m wrong. I gotta prove myself. I’ll show them. If I don’t I’ll die.”

Such is your whispering inner chatter if you struggle with the “gotta get it right” sorry story. This painful tendency, like any other, does not live in isolation. As they say, misery seeks company. The need for perfection feeds off other self-deprecating thoughts, such as, “I am ugly, I am stupid, I am disgusting”. They in turn create and sustain the circumstances in your life for a voracious feeding frenzy of control, as you put all your effort into proving yourself beyond those negative ideas—and therefore “right”. Immersion in this type of thinking is often at the root of many people’s unhappy lives, and can even be at the core of addiction.

Born of difficult childhoods and traumatic past experience, the “gotta get it right” sorry story is a hidden motivator for many successful and prominent people, as well as those who are frustrated feeling like they are struggling in the shadows of their true potential. While this tendency can drive people to be at the top of their class and subsequent profession, it can also cripple them into a rubble of inaction.

The “gotta get it right” sorry story can be used an excuse to justify lack of engagement today. While fantasizing about how great life will be in the future once you get your life right, you miss the richness of what is before you. It is a proud bravado that often masks a deep sense of weakness, agonizing loneliness and brutally low self-worth. This chronic need to prove one’s capacity is not an expression of feeling loved and supported by a compassionate universe, but comes from an ingrained sense of againstness. The fundamental world view is in lack, attack and therefore the need to defend oneself to survive.

If you are struggling with “gotta get it rights”, you may believe, for example, that being overly cerebral, lacking heart or connection may help you rise to prominence, but it burns you and all those around you along the way. Whether you are at the top of your game or feeling thwarted by life, the “gotta get it rights” keep you suffering in your inner prison of self-judgement. The unresolved agitation in this tendency is like a dry fire that fuels the feverish heat of our hurting world.

It is a beautiful thing to do well in our chosen task. Commitment to quality, motivated by humility, honesty and compassion for the greater whole, is an expression of a healthy person. However, too often, these attributes are sorely absent in how we choose to live. Most of us, at some level, would like to do well, have a sense of achievement and feel contentment. But when doing well is fueled by the notion that we have to reach a certain status, have a desired amount of money, or possess a level of control in order to be liked or even loved, we have engaged in an emotional barter. This type of contract sells our soul, and drains our life-force energy. Like falling in love with a vampire that promises us eternal life, we are left ultimately empty.

The temptation may be to fall asleep in the arms of the illusion of an external perfection that will eventually fill us up as we relish the idea that the entire world is wrong. (We “gotta get it right”, after all.) But we would remain, like vampires do, eternally unhappy, and deeply wanting.

If you feel in any way that you have to “get it right” to be loved or accepted by anyone, you have given away your power to them and have engaged in a sorry story. The only way to let go of painful tendencies is to practice the three steps to lasting transformation we have been exploring: understand, witness and release. When you are clear that your sense of worth is not conditional upon external circumstance, you understand that you have entered into a mirage of success. To dig yourself a dungeon or build yourself a tower, and hold the key to your own prison cell door, is no achievement. It is creative, but it is not a good use of the gifted energy that flows through you and all life.

Once you understand that you engage in this prideful behaviour that leaves you empty, you can begin to witness the ways in which the tendency tries to draw you in as you move to let it go. Like Aladdin tempted in a den of riches, or prey seduced by a vampire’s luring talk, you will develop the discernment to know that not all that shimmers bright is the light your soul needs. Only the fire of illumination will set you truly free, and that is given without condition.

As you truly understand and witness the insidious tendencies of this “gotta get it right” pattern that can seep into every corner of your life like a dark smoke, release will happen automatically. You will no longer choose to give it the power you have allowed it to suck from you all along. You now know that the temporary hit of seeming control you have been getting from it is not worth the price of your lasting happiness. You also know that the heat of its disconnected wanting has fueled the painful fires in yourself and in our world for far too long. Out of self-love and compassion for all, you choose to welcome your humanity with an open and humble heart. You allow yourself to be in process, because you feel safe as you are, rooted in who you are, as an evolving, interconnected being. In so doing, everyone and everything wins, including Nature herself.