Perfectionism, scared of “wrong,” mistakes and failure … advice from the top

If you’re at all interested in the goings on of a tiny nation at the bottom of the world called New Zealand, like I am, you will know that the Prime Minister gave birth recently. How she runs a country and looks after a baby I know not. My hat is well and truly doffed to her. She must have some kind of superpower that I don’t possess. And a husband that is well and truly “in” and helping out.

I read an interview with said husband, a bloke (don't worry – all men in NZ are “blokes”) whose face in pictures is something to behold as he hobnobs with world leaders. He’s like a kid who expects to be discovered at any moment and kicked out, crossed with sheer awe how he managed to gain entrance in the first place. Then there’s the one where he’s with the rest of the leaders’ significant others, a man in a sea of women. Wonderful.

He was talking about favourite pieces of parenting advice... now, mine is don’t listen to any advice (which, ironically, is superb advice), but second best came from this interview.

Apparently while hobnobbing with the Obamas, Barack told him his secret to parenting (and presumably running a country?) is to not panic, and it’s ok to make mistakes.

Isn’t that cool?

The fact is, and this coincides nicely with an article in the paper the other morning …


… that talks about the rise of perfectionism and the crushing pressure it puts an increasing number of people under.

To me? Perhaps it's more to it than this, I am no psychologist (I can barely spell the word), but perfectionism is just another aspect of being afraid of making mistakes, afraid of failure.

A healthy concern for not messing up is a good thing me thinks … But if you, like me, have experienced being terrified of making any decision in case it’s the “wrong” one, or falling on my face in front of an audience of people, you will realise how de-habilitating being scared of mistakes is.

You’d rather hide and do nothing than put yourself in the way of “wrong” or “failure.”

But that’s not a life is it? I’ve learnt you have to get comfortable with the fact that you will make mistakes. In doing anything, you will mess up.

Here’s where YOUR choice comes in:

You can have the attitude that a mistake is further evidence of the end of the world, of your failure and your uselessness … or you can use it as a platform to get better, to improve, to learn from.

One is a downward spiralling mess of an attitude, the other gives you peace now, and firm ground for the future.

How do you change your attitude? Just through practice and presence. Through being aware of your mind and how it will always throw up these perfectionisms and expectations and ideas and insistences and shoulds.

When you are aware of them you have choice, you can ignore them and do something different. But being aware of them is a most excellent thing. You may not like that, I understand that, but without awareness it’s like trying to play tennis against an invisible opponent … almost impossible.

Through awareness you get to see your opponent and learn their wiley ways. A great thing – I get this might not be a comfortable thing, especially if your habit is to try and hide in some aspects of your life.

Knowing your own mind and being able to direct it where you wish is the key to a peaceful and effective life. Closing your eyes and being able to develop freedom of choice is essential.

Meditation then is one of the most important things you can regularly do. You’re not dropping out, you’re actually tuning in to the fullest degree.

Go well! Arjuna

PS. My new baby, a six month mind transformation programme (which I don’t have a name for yet) is due to be launched in the near future.

To be honest, I’m still sorting out details.

But it involves working closely with me over a long period of time and discovering how to transcend the limitations and judgements of your mind.

I went with six months because alongside guidance from me, time spent at the “coal face” practicing awareness and choice is essential. I wish I could give you a magic pill, but I can’t (and even those have un-wanted side effects). I can guide you, but you have to do the simple, and enjoyable, “work.”

If you’re interested?

Just hit reply and I’ll let you know all the details as soon as possible.

When other people disapprove

When people disapprove, take you the wrong way, think you’re inappropriate or just plain old don’t get you … Other people, huh?

Unfortunately you can never make them see you as you would like to be seen. That would certainly be nice though wouldn’t it?

It is something that has really dogged me my whole life, what other people say, what other people think of me, what I think other people think of me ... all of that stuff … and it has led to such self-doubt and self-editing. Not being free to be seen in public, as it were.

Ever have that yourself? It’s one of the reasons why I learnt the Bright Path Ishayas’ Ascension meditation. Because it gives me the ability to just not care. To go “Meh!” To see what I can control and what I can’t, and to focus on what I can do rather than worry about what I cannot.

(Above is a picture of you, when you do that. You shine you see, just like a lightbulb. The perfect picture, yet again!)

Beyond that the only thing that seems to "work" is the realisation that I don't want to not be seen, not be me any more. That it's too much hard work to try and guess what other people might misconstrue or find appropriate, and just to get used to being taken the wrong way from time to time.

It takes courage, but it gets easier the more I do it ... just "putting myself out there" as it were.

The biggest fear, I believe, is not failure, but failing, looking stupid in public. And yet on the other side of that fear is such relief and freedom.

I don’t have any real fix, no magic pill to make fear go away and never come back — just that I know from personal experience that it gets easier to deal with the more you deal with it. Being present helps enormously, for sure.

So, I don't know if that helps any this fine day, but I certainly hope so!

You are amazing, get going on this life of yours. Don't wait for approval from no one! And certainly try not to waste your time wondering what other people think.

Go well! Arjuna

PS. Life is too short to worry about what other people think, don’t you think?

Good luck - soldier forth, and if I can assist? Please just ask

PPS. If you’d like to learn the means to reset all your worries about other people, and bolster your “Meh!” muscle leaving you free to care about the important things in your life, here’s some excellent ways, for free:


My bungy jump failure

One of the proudest moments of my life (in hindsight) was walking away from a bungy jump.

Darn computer wants to change it to “bunny jump.” That’s a whole new thing altogether, isn’t it?

I was just writing about the very thing below in my book. It is so close to being finished I can smell it.

Here's kind of an adapted extract. A longer read for you.

Before we get to jumping off bridges - let’s talk about risk for a moment.

Risk — and fear — is an extremely personal thing.

Risk is necessary to move forward in any part of life. Your mind hates risk, it likes comfort: “Don’t do anything!” it says “you might fail.”

Comfort is good, but inaction isn’t, really, is it? So moving forward in life involves getting comfortable with risk, with possibly failing, definitely with making mistakes and seeming a little silly, even stupid, sometimes.

But with risk, I’m not talking about being irresponsible, I’m not talking high-risk gambling with finances or life and limb. I’m talking about not being afraid of fear, of testing your comfort zone. What you will see, however, is the more you test your comfort zone, the more you will come to re-define what your mind suggests is irresponsible.

But understand the scale of that risk is completely up to you, don’t let anyone pressure you.

Anyhow — this is where the bunny, err, bungy, jump comes in.

I was terrified, but really wanted to do it. They strapped me in, did the count down, and … I didn’t jump. The operators counted again, again I hesitated. They mocked me, told me to “strap it on.” Needless to say, that wasn’t the right approach.

I was ashamed as I walked away, the jump untaken, but later I was proud of myself. Jumping off any height is a huge deal for me, and I wanted the experience to be something, for want of a better word, “beautiful.” The conditions weren’t right and so, despite the pressure, walking away was the only option.

Risk — and fear — is an extremely personal thing. Becoming more aware of your fears, your resistances, your limitations and choosing to do something even slightly different in any sphere of life, is a bold and beautiful thing. Truly.

Setting aside the fears of my mind and focusing on what needs to be done to get down a hard rapid in my kayak is a beautiful thing (to me), but so was over-coming my fears about commitment and fully committing to my now wife. That took a serious leap, just as running rapids does.

Being a father involves risk as well: “what if we’re doing it wrong?” There’s so much conflicting advice and personal experience out there about everything, not to mention your own intuition — you just have to choose a path that seems right to you. Sometimes you just have to leap. No matter what part of your life you meet fear or your perceived scale of your steps forward, give yourself a pat on the back for not backing down.

Well done for picking up the true invitation of fear and risking being curious about what is on the other side of that fear of failure, the fear of seeming silly or stupid to someone else.

It’s not easy, I know, but it is rewarding. Authenticity, not hiding, not being afraid any more.

So — take encouragement and inspiration from others, but not pressure. You may never throw yourself off a bridge with an elastic band attached, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Risk something, commit to something, but do it your way.

Go well! Arjuna

PS. The greatest tool, to me, to come to terms with fear is meditation. You see it for what it is: your mind’s smoke and mirrors. Your mind’s attempt to keep you inactive and small and comfortable.

Here’s a free guide that will get you started: www.arjunaishaya.com/freestuff

Are you the only one?

Do you ever wake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, your thoughts going a million miles an hour? You’re unable to shut them up and get back to sleep so you give up, get up and raid the fridge? (yom yom yom -but then that weight goes on which gives you something else to chastise yourself about?) Are worry and doubt and anxiety just a normal part of your day? Do you worry, going over something you’ve said because the way someone MIGHT have taken it? Do you ever just panic, anxiety causing a knot in your stomach and your whole system a buzzing just from some irrational — or perhaps completely rational but debilitating — fear?

Have you ever struggled to do something, anything, because your own head — what a traitor! — has turned against you and is busy shouting what a loser you are? Or you’ve made the smallest of mistakes and your head (traitor!!) keeps going on about it, not letting you move on?

You too? Oh my goodness! I thought I was the only one.

All of the above and more used to be a regular occurrence for me. I knew how good life could be, but I knew how shocking my fear and worry and self-doubt could be too. It was plenty of motivation to do something about my own head's negativity and overwhelm.

If I can get beyond these habits — and they are habits, learned ways of responding to the world — you can also learn to leave them behind. Honestly, you can.

I know what it’s like to look around and think that you are the only one struggling. That everyone else seems to have it all sorted, all easy, perfected. I thought I was the only one sharing a life with a traitor in my own skull.

If I can move beyond it, so can you. Promise.

What it takes it becoming more aware of what the voice in your head is telling you. In this awareness you can come to make a different choice. You can distract yourself from all of the trouble, and focus on what you want to focus on: like the good things of life, the things you DO have, or your actual options right now rather than irrational and/or constant “what if?” fears.

It takes practicing relaxing and training your attention on a regular basis. That is all. If you’ve had enough of negativity and overwhelm, you’ll have plenty of motivation for practicing this awareness and attention shifting on a daily basis. And that will bring you to a different state of being, a different way of living very quickly.

It will. If I can do it, so can you.

But it helps, it does, to know you’re not the only one. And that there’s a way out. And that you are enough, you are wonderful, you are doing a fine job all things considering — no matter what your own head says.

That’s me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It all begins with a shift within you, a shift you can carry out. Not only does all of your life benefit, but so does everyone around you too. By changing yourself, you help change the world.

True that.

Go well! Arjuna


People often say, "awareness is all well and good, but what can I DO????" They want something concrete -- things to do, to practice. Here’s what I have for you: www.arjunaishaya.com/freestuff


Questions? Let me know - I'd love to help!

The one thing about worry that stops you dealing with it

I used to regularly wake in the early hours of the night, worrying and anxious … about something, anything. It was always something that my mind would present for me to solve. “Fix this, and then you can go back to sleep”, it would say. And that is the trouble about worry and anxiety, is that it often cannot be solved. Especially at 3am when you’re not thinking clearly, at all.

There is a problem that cannot be fixed right now, and worry means you attempt to fix it, over and over again simply because you believe that if you solve your problem in your head, then you can relax (and go back to sleep).

It doesn’t work like that, does it? You just stay worried.

To get peace and freedom from worry, you have to come to a point where you realise you can’t solve every problem, you can’t predict every outcome. You HAVE to let it float until it comes the time when you can.

To get peace and freedom from worry therefore you have to be prepared to be at peace, WITH a problem, WITH an unknown. Can you do this?

Yes you can, it gets easier with practice. However you have to be prepared to give up your worry. And that is the hard part. Learning to be ok with not knowing. Learning to be that little bit out of control. Learning to be present and not constantly trying to fix the future.

You can do this, if you WANT to, and you're prepared to practice until you nail it (it doesn't take long to get this, from personal experience, I promise.

Go well! Arjuna

PS. Getting the clarity to know what you are in control of and what you are not is key too.

Being more mindful will show you this, and here’s my excellent programme for being more mindful: https://arjunaishaya.lpages.co/houradaymindful/ Jump in, it would be great to have you.

The 2 things that cause more trouble than anything else

Money and relationships are the two things that will cause most people the most grief. Worries and anxieties about money. Worries and anger and resentment at other people. Grrrr … And this time of year they collide in spectacular ways - what with Christmas and various celebrations going on, don’t they?

I kind of understand why some spiritual traditions totally give up money and relationships - perhaps because they’re seen as too hard work.

But they are so valuable, extremely valuable, and not to be avoided at all. They will show you so much about yourself and as such can be an excellent source of evolution …

If you are willing - and that is the key part - if you are willing they will show you …

Your fears, your prejudices, your past experiences, when you hold tightly to something or someone, your jealousies and comparisons …

Where you’re not being present to this moment, where you’re blaming someone else for your reactions … and so much. Where you fly off the handle in outrageous ways …

Where you can claim back more choice for you - freedom of personal choice - and not let your mood be dictated by anyone or anything.

So look carefully at these things. What can you learn from them? Perhaps it’s simply to be more present, worry less about the things you have no control over? Perhaps it’s to ask for what you want from someone else, and not hold back so you get angry and resentful? Perhaps its to make sure you look after yourself, take even a few moments just for you, to regroup, to get present, to get calm?

Welcome these things, don’t hide from them. This is the university of life - it will help you master your mind so you can end all stress and suffering, and have the most amazing of lives.

Isn’t that wonderful? I think so. Questions? Lemme have them!

Go well, Arjuna

PS. If you want to make your next 7 days spectacular, amid the chaos and busy-ness of the season? Try this little mindfulness challenge:


Help! How do I stop worrying about … ?


Worry is a huge problem for a lot of people.

Health, for example - someone asked me this morning how to stop worrying about it,

So I wanted to write a little about what I did to overcome worry.

It's a longer email, but hopefully useful to you, so grab a cuppa, have a read and see what sticks.

Obviously it's a huge subject and I can't do justice to your particular case, but I think in general something here will hold true for you.

I'll do a video soon, but my throat is all scratchy from snotty bubba.

Here we go:

The answer is the same for ANY worry or anxiety.

The mechanism of worry is the same, it just has a different focus, a different object.

Money, your family, your relationship, the state of the world … doesn't matter, it'll all apply.

First point:

Worry, the feeling, is caused by a thought.

By thinking you create a feeling that you don't like.

It’s not so much about the OBJECT of your worry, but HOW you’re thinking about it.

Simple I know, but it's important to realise, because:

You don’t have a lot of control over the object, you can learn to have control over the thinking.

Freedom from worry lies within you - NOT by fixing the object.

You have to realise that its your obsession (strong word I know) with the object that causes the feeling.

It’s often super creative people who get anxious, and they get anxious when they have nothing to do.

Like sitting on a plane, last thing at night …

Then their minds want to do something, so they pick at something, anything - and the result is worry.

You’re never worried when you’re busy. Because - you don’t have time to think.

Distraction from your thoughts therefore is a great tactic.

(If you practice meditation you will get comfortable with waiting, with doing nothing, with not letting your mind wander anywhere it wants, with distraction from any obsession).

When you notice the first signs of worry and thinking - get out of your head.

Sooner the better, because your thoughts have momentum.

Get up, do something different, take some deep slow breaths counting along the way, think your Ascension Attitudes if you have them,

Change your focus.

In order to do this you have to realise that worrying about the object IN NO WAY is going to help you.

You have to realise that you create the worry because you think it helps.

You, in a way, are addicted to worrying.

You think a little thinking about your favourite issue won’t do any harm …

(The "just a little bit won't hurt" at the core of any addiction)

But it does, and before you know it you’re deep in worry.

You have to be prepared not to think about your favourite concern - cold turkey, if you like.

The second point is:

You have been thinking certain ways for a long long time.

Sometimes you will just unconsciously start, and “fall” into worry, so -

This will be a journey.

You can learn to ease your worry pretty much straight away,

But it may return time and time again.

No worries, be gently stubborn, keep coming back to what you want to grow and nurture in your mind, and life.

Practice will make perfect.


You aren’t worried, you have worry.

It helps to see it as something outside of you, like a virus or something to be defeated.

If you ARE it, then there’s not a lot of room to move with it.

If it’s something you HAVE, then you can get a half-step back from it, you can be mindful of it -

Which is essential, because:


By way the worst thing about worry and anxiety (or depression, anger etc),

Is getting anxious about your anxiety.

Heaping anxiety upon anxiety is the real cause of most people’s troubles.

The anxiety is one thing, the thinking around it creates more and more anxiety.

The fact is that although worry and panic is unpleasant,

It will go away.

Try not to feed it by adding to it.

Let it float, let it be there, experience it - but stay detached (half-step backed) from it.

You’re not going to die, and it won’t last forever.

You will learn to deal with it, and ultimately end it.

So -

I’m sure there’s more, however this is more than enough to get going on.

Let me know how you go -

And practice! Nothing happens without doing something, regularly.

Go well,



If you want to the greatest way to learn to meditate and be mindful, here's the best start I know,

Because I wrote this free guide!

All the different ways I can think of to give you freedom from your mind, and freedom from worry: