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Pluto in Capricorn and Pernicious Perfectionism vs.Positive Perfectionism

(c)4-8-16 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Note: This was originally written several years ago, when Pluto was first making itself known in Capricorn. Now it’s a bigger and bigger part of how we approach our careers–and, unfortunately, how we judge ourselves and others.  It seems worth repeating.

Pernicious perfectionism—doesn’t that have a ring to it? It rings, all right, but not the kind of bell you want to hear in the midst of trying to present your work to the world in a positive light. More like a warning bell, perhaps, or a closing bell. The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines pernicious as destructive or deadly, but often in a covert way that is not readily observed.

One of the more grating qualities of transiting Pluto in perfectionistic Capricorn that I notice often is a sort of snobbish—no, wait, I mean snotty—perfectionism and rush to judgment. If something a person does or offers isn’t a state-of-the-art in presentation or operation, it’s summarily dismissed without trying to absorb the material.

It’s like attending to the Oscars in a dress that’s off the rack because you can’t afford a designer dress, and being snubbed, despite the fact that you’ve turned in a brilliant performance that got you nominated. And then Joan Rivers mocks you on Fashion Police.

I guess that transit is the reason I spent the last two and half months updating all my e-books and giving them killer covers. I don’t want my work judged because of the cover, and, believe me, readers do that today.  My next big project was a complete makeover of my publications website, which needed to be modernized and getting rid of pages about services I no longer offer.

I think a great many of us are afflicted with pernicious perfectionism these days, both on the receiving and dishing out ends. We judge and are judged by the way we dress and look and the way our work looks rather than on the quality. Being dismissed because of these superficial qualities is discouraging to those of us who are trying hard to make something of ourselves, to somehow make this a better world. Much of the time, those who judge us don’t cut us any slack.

We all have to step our performance up a notch or three to keep up with the times, especially things on the web that expose our work to a wider audience who will never see us in person if our digital presence isn’t a state-of-the-art. I don’t know about you, but that’s a reality that’s discouraging, if not outright disheartening.

But you know what? Stepping our performance up a few notches and preparing ourselves to meet new needs of our target audience is a good thing, albeit stressful. Life is so very much more complicated now, and if we want to be relevant and helpful, we need to be informed about what’s going on in the world and in people’s lives.

Hey, Pluto is supposed to be about transformation, isn’t it?  (With this transit, though, it seems to be more about GO BIG OR GO HOME.)

There’s no doubt that some of us are using Pluto in Capricorn to transform and regenerate ourselves. Using Pluto that way requires insight, self awareness, humility, motivation for self-improvement, and lots of persistent work. People who lack those qualities are more likely to look at and dwell on other people’s faults rather than their own.  I do find that Capricorn planets can make less-evolved people  snobbish and judgmental because they over-emphasize success and status at the expense of the finer qualities that don’t show on the outside.

For some of my readers, this transit (and the related one of Saturn in Scorpio) has brought a healthy surge of discontent with your work as it stands now, wanting more out of yourself and yearning for a breakthrough.

That can be called a POSITIVE PERFECTIONISM. There’s a difference between that kind of striving for perfection, and the painful self-doubt that keeps many talented and creative people from finishing their work or sharing it with the world.

The  helpful effect of this transit in career-oriented Capricorn can be an increased professionalism in the way we pursue and showcase our work. What used to be good enough isn’t good enough any more—we’re all being challenged to raise the bar. Maybe it’s coming from an inner hunger for growth, or maybe it’s coming from increased demands in your field to step your work up a notch. But the pressure is there.

Many of you are finding new mountaintops to surmount, like the mountain goat of Capricorn. Me, too, which is why I revised and updated most of my ebooks. Not fun, but needed and at least the Saturn/Capricorn influence has given me the patience and persistence to do it.

The word professionalism often has negative connotations today, and yet wouldn’t we all want our doctors and other helping people to be extremely professional in their work–and to be state of the art in it? Professionalism can be a good thing, but it does ask us to be more exacting in our expectations of ourselves. And that’s a Pluto in Capricorn type of transformation, since Capricorn aspires to high standards that lead us to be more professional.

How about you, Readers? Is the pervasive tendency to judge by appearances and to dismiss anyone who isn’t perfect getting to you?  Have you any tips on how to deal with it? One thing I’ve stepped up on to counteract today’s harsh perfection is to let people know–even perfect strangers on the street–when I like something about them. Tell us how you’ve coped with it in the comment section underneath this article.

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