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Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control Paperback – June 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perfectionism is endemic to modern Western culture, and exacts a hefty psychological price. People are increasingly dissatisfied with their performance, hypercritical of their peers, and undone by the slightest hint of failure. Somov argues that by applying some Buddhist-minded psychological tactics, people can let go of their pathological perfectionism and improve their lives, jobs, and relationships. While some of his advice is superb and crucial for people who are too hard on themselves and others, much of it has extremely limited practical applications; oddly, Somov's advice seems to exist outside effective participation in modern society. While some of what he says - be mindful of tasks, focus on one thing at a time - is sound, readers may finally ask, "But how can I successfully do this and perform well in my career or life?" This is not the question that a self-help book wants its readers to have to ask. Better integrating the advice would have been a vast improvement; as it stands, Present Perfect feels more useful as a guide to the idealized reality that Somov counsels his readers against.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This brilliant and practical new book is designed to help alleviate the excess stress and dissatisfaction of perfectionism, one of the main practices of the extremely popular, if unheralded, religion I lovingly call Control Freakism. Pavel Somov gives us numerous helpful awareness exercises, conscious inquiries, insights, mindfulness practices, original perspectives, and penetrating ideas, all conducive to helping us free ourselves from this tyrannical inner demon and experience the radiant reality of things just as they are. Acceptance has its own transformative magic, and I heartily recommend this work to all who want to transform, awaken, and edify.”
— Lama Surya Das, founder of Dzogchen Meditation Centers and author of Awakening the Buddha Within

“Rarely does a work of art like Present Perfect fall upon one’s desk. This book allows us to transform existential pain caused by our need to be perfect. This book is abundant with tools and ideas that equip the reader to resolve guilt, shame, and perfectionism. Once you accept and surrender your perfectionism, the magical paradox of mindfulness as a healer will unfold.”
— Ronald A. Alexander, Ph.D., executive director of the Open Mind Training Institute and author of Wise Mind, Open Mind

“Even those of us with a lot of self-help reading under our belts will experience many a-ha moments while immersed in Present Perfect. Somov’s approach is highly logical, creative, resourceful, and compassionate. Never once will you feel judged; instead, you’ll feel understood. I highly recommend this valuable resource to therapists and anyone with perfectionist tendencies.”
— Dina Cheney, author of Tasting Cluband Williams-Sonoma’s New Flavors for Salads

Present Perfect takes a wholly fresh look at an age-old problem by applying a generous dose of the healing salve of mindfulness. Filled with fascinating references and down-to-earth examples, this book skillfully guides the reader through exercises and strategies that can transform the paralyzing and demoralizing pattern of perfectionism. Present Perfect is the perfect way to liberate yourself from the guilt, shame, and blame of perfectionism and rediscover the freedom of living in the ‘what is.’”
— Donald Altman, psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and author of The Mindfulness Code

“Pavel Somov offers an intelligent, witty, and compassionate critique of perfectionism and makes a compelling case that life is already perfect. I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable and personally and professionally useful from the first page. I feel as comfortable recommending this book to my colleagues as I do to my patients and am confident that both will find it of tremendous value in their lives. Since perfectionism is often the other side of compulsive and addictive behavior, this book will be relevant to all who seek more moderation and balance in their lives.”
— Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in New York City specializing in treating addictive behavior and author of Harm Reduction Psychotherapy

“In this book, Somov not only provides a plethora of highly accessible and instantly applicable ways to connect with mindful awareness, but also provides lucid and rational ways to dethrone the inner tyrant of perfectionism and fully live in the completeness of each moment.”
— Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., director of research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of Mindful Motherhood

“Licensed psychologist Somov has found that clients can make progress in the areas of tolerating uncertainty, refraining from harsh self-judgment, and reducing anxious feelings by doing mindfulness exercises. Essentially, the more they accept the moment, thhe more they can accept themselves.
Verdict: Present Perfect, one of the most helpful in the OCPD self-help arena.”
Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications; 1 edition (June 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572247568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572247567
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice.


Somov, P. G. (2008)
A Psychodrama Group for Substance Use Relapse Prevention Training. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 38, 151-161.

Somov, P.G. (2007).
Meaning of Life Group: Group Application of Logotherapy for Substance Use Treatment.
Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 32 (4), 316 - 345.

Somov, P.G. (2000)
Time Perception as a Measure of Pain Intensity and Pain Type. Journal of Back & Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 14 (3), 111-121.


State University of New York at Buffalo: Ph.D., Counseling Psychology

Professional Affiliations:

Member of the American Psychological Association (APA)
Member of the Greater Pittsburgh Psychological Association (GPPA)
Member of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA)

Military Service:

Independent Special Purpose Motorized Rifle Brigade (OMSBON) of the Ministry of Interior of the Soviet Union (1987-1989)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Yake on September 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Everyone who suffers the discrepancy between what they want and what actually exists moment by moment has something important to gain from reading Pavel Somov's illuminating book Present Perfect. Far more than a compelling antidote to perfectionism per se, Somov's book actually shows us how to escape the "holodeck" of our endless worries about the future in order to find the real perfection that exists right now. If you have been looking for a way to learn to enjoy just being, think Present Perfect, and then stop thinking. Always original, always experiential, Somov reveals the subtle and deep truth that to find the gem at our feet we absolutely have to stop kicking it down the road. Highly recommended.
~Andrew P. Yake, PhD
Licensed Psychologist
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sara Rose on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, let me say that within reading the first chapter of this book it was already making an impact on my thinking and thus my life in a positive way. Of all the titles relating to perfection I found on Amazon, I gravitated toward this one because I already practice mindfulness and meditation. With that said, one does not need to have any familiarity with mindfulness to delve into this book. Somov does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to the concept.

The premise of the book, in a nut shell, is learning to accept each moment as it is, and understanding that no moment can be more than what it is. In essence, each moment is already perfect. Somov demonstrates this concept through many small exercises throughout the book. I will admit that I did pick and choose the exercises I completed because there were so many.

I really appreciated this book because I found it so applicable. You know it's a good book when you feel like the author is describing you in the text! The author's lessons stuck with me, I found myself being able to apply his wisdom throughout the day (yet another sign of a good book!). I wish I could be less vague in my description; however, I found that the lessons were so deep and meaningful, I don't think I could do them justice in this review. This book has brought new perspective into my life and I highly recommend that anyone struggling with control and perfection to give it a read.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By sam on September 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought book this book because it was recommended. Some of the issues advertised were things I wanted to understand about myself. The author does, in my limited view, do a good job of helping the reader to look at them self in a way which I found enlightening. It's much easier to fix something if you know what you are facing. Having said that, I found some of the remedies if you want to call them that, a little bit "out there". Now having said that, I'm a very technically oriented person and I am not a believer in any sort of spiritualism so that may cloud my openness to this kind of thinking.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By mountaingoat8 on July 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book literally changed my life. In the best ways. And the changes have STUCK. The author's uniquely resonant voice hit home in every way imaginable. I consider myself a "recovering perfectionist" who has fallen off the wagon countless times throughout my life. If I could tell potential readers anything about this book to encourage them to read it, it would be this: You have probably read many other books that have been in the same genre of self-help. But I assure you this book is unlike any other. It will allow you to feel more freedom, more possibility, more peace and acceptance and more true satisfaction with life right where you are, no matter what that looks like.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JC on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
It just so happens that I have been trying to meditate, learning the ropes. I love that this book utilized meditation, and the philosophy behind it. Another aspect I really appreciate is the underlying causes of perfectionism. I need to categorize things and am always seeking "why", so it sated that part of me. I borrowed this book from the library, and it was hard for this perfectionist NOT to highlight the book. :) After reading it in one sitting (did I mention perfectionism?), I come to Amazon to put it on my wish list. It is that helpful. I have read other books on perfectionism, but none came this close to helping me understand it's causes and how to gently correct my thought patterns.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good book. Highly recommended. Right from the start, I felt understood with the idea that OCPD is a real state of being. While I don't need a label to define my perfectionism, the idea that it is a pattern of behavior and thought that is readily recognized was pretty validating.

Before going further, I must say something about "mindfulness" in its title. If you're interested in self-work, you have likely almost started to become drowned in mentions of mindfulness. Here is where this book differs big time. Rather than just an emphasis on focusing on *noticing* and letting things be and breath meditations, Somov's book does something amazing that I had not even realized I was missing in previous forays into mindfulness: he helps you become mindful through concrete behavioral exercises. Now wait! Before you run away, I need you to know that these exercises are not difficult but rather simple and render often immediate awareness, sometimes gradual awareness. I concretely still am aware of some of the realizations.

Beyond the excellent exercises themselves, Somov's style of writing is excellent and concise, explaining seemingly obvious assumptions in ways that show that they are only assumptions. He never forces, only encourages.

Present Perfect has really helped me with the suffering I was feeling due to my perfectionism. I have helped create a space now between the urge to succeed at an ill-defined but overly stressful level, now seeing that (as much as I am disliking this saying lately) _it is what it is_. It's okay if I fall short. I want to do well and sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, sometimes I don't even try, sometimes I make special effort to do especially well, and it's all ok.
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