Thursday, September 25, 2014
There's a growing stack of literature on my bedside table. It includes such works as The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch, and the gem I am currently devouring: The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown (I have yet to read the others).
This need for self-discovery, enlightenment, and improvement has been an ongoing thing for me. It started out as a realization in the 11th grade that I needed to overcome my fear of public speaking...then it morphed into a determination to develop relationships with my family, conquer my fear of singing in front of people and audition in front of someone, get myself on stage in a theatrical production, (re)build my confidence after a breakup, improve my ability to meet people and talk one-on-one...but my personal growth and development was a series of fits and starts instead of having an ever-flowing presence.
This time it's different. This time, I am looking at myself as a whole. What is it that I need to do for me in order to better myself as a person, become more relaxed and stable, increase my capacity for trust, love, and joy, and improve the quality of the rest of my life? The motivations that came sporadically and fleetingly before seem to have been triggered all at once following a few key moments of clarity when I had felt that someone's words or some realized truth spoke deeply to my consciousness and to my soul. This combination of catalysts led me to counselling. It led me to Super Soul Sunday and Master Class on OWN. It led me to deep conversations with friends who understand. It led me to The Loss That is Forever. It led me to the other books I have mentioned (and has been leading me to add more to my list of things to read/look into besides). And more recently it led me to try hypnosis (which sort of came out of the blue as a suggestion and which I am hopeful will contribute greatly to this process I am undertaking).
Alas, I digress...
Through all of my exploring, I am coming to change or modify my thought patterns and beliefs. I am also coming to understand that what I have been experiencing is very complex and interconnected stuff and that I am not alone in quite a few facets of my experience. Today's focus is on perfectionism. I have a long memory of being labelled a perfectionist (mostly by my mother). I just sort of accepted that it is a part of who I am and kind of wore it like a badge of honour. It meant that I was giving my all to everything that mattered to me; that I was beyond reproach or judgment in how I portrayed myself. But what it actually did was impede my happiness, bury me in a mountain of stress, frustration, self-criticism, guilt, inadequacy, anxiety and fear, and paralyze my life in countless ways. I heard the words, "there's no such thing as perfect" or "that's good enough" and I didn't accept them to be true as they apply to me. I MUST be perfect. I MUST NOT make mistakes. There is an enormous amount of pressure that comes with those beliefs. And it isn't as though I ever thought I was perfect. I didn't. I was never good enough for myself in any way, shape, or form. I fought my way through aspects of this thought pattern off and on throughout the years, but I never tackled the issue as a whole. I don't think I ever got the fact that it was a huge festering sore in my mind and in my heart. I was consumed with depleting myself for others, trying to be everything for everyone and meet their every need; so afraid of disappointing or hurting anyone, so afraid of losing the shreds of self-worth that were dependent on meeting my own unrealized unrealistic expectations of myself or having to deal with not being liked or accepted because of an inability to do all those things. I repeatedly ran myself down to empty for my job, my friends, my family, my partners. I let the energy vampires suck me dry. Never did I stop to take care of me. I mean, I sort of convinced myself that I did - I took care of the things on the surface whenever I could snatch a moment that wasn't already spoken for at someone else's bidding (whether real or perceived by my mind's preoccupation with their problems, expectations, and well-being), but I never got to really recharge and replenish myself. Maybe I didn't even know how or that I deserved that.
Realization and making sense of it all in my own mind is key to raising my awareness of how I treat myself. I would NEVER treat a friend that way and if a friend treated ME they way I treat MYSELF, I'm sure we wouldn't be friends for long. What's important going forward is what am I going to do about it? Well, I'm going to keep educating myself and discovering myself. I'm going to continue to "do the work" and have the tough conversations that my soul needs in order to heal. I'm going to learn (finally) to love myself fully and give myself time and permission to figure out what it is that I need and make MY well-being a priority. I am going to battle perfectionism, depression, and anxiety (and anything else that crops up or gets uncovered). I am going to learn to create real and true boundaries. I am going to learn to separate myself and my worth from my ability to please, perform, and perfect. I am going to cultivate positive thoughts and beliefs to help free myself from the chains of negativity and the pain of beating up on myself on a daily basis. I am once again going to create courage inside myself to find, be, and accept me.