Tag Archives: Fear

“Goodbye Miss Universe”

Standard
Small prizes for self-destruction. Source: http://capriciousd.hubpages.com/hub/7-Things-I-Wish-I-Understood-Sooner

Small prizes for self-destruction.
Source: Superstock.com

This past month I have thrown myself back into a previous work environment. I am back to work at a children’s hospital in the critical care programs. I have not worked there for over 4 years and the break has done me well, but I returned to keep up my neonatal and pediatric skills. While re-orientating in the unit with an old friend he mentioned in passing ” …I know that you are a bit of a perfectionist, but since you will only be working casually here, you will have to ask for help occasionally.”.  His next words became fuzzy as I processed that statement. Wow, he was right. I was a perfectionist. When he had worked with me I was endlessly fighting to prove myself every day and be flawless. No mistakes could be made. Good enough was just not in my vocabulary. I have, thank goodness, begun to evolve and grow in many ways this past year. I used to be a devout perfectionist, but now I am doing the work of recovering from this affliction and have great hope for myself in the future!

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

I can almost hear some of you contesting in the background. Shrugging shoulders and scoffing in disagreement. You are asking yourselves what is so very WRONG with perfectionism. Doesn’t it make you better? Motivate you? Keep you ahead of the pack at work? Some of this may be true, but what will happen if you make a mistake? If you are caught being imperfect, you will get an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. Dread and fear. You will feel a flush of heat up your neck and into your face. Shame and embarrassment. These are not pleasant feelings. You will then vow to be even more perfect, placing your nose to the proverbial grindstone and working even harder at your perfectionism. Running from shame and judgement, forever and always.

 perfectionism

Such weight of responsibility we feel from our perfect hair to our excellent, trendy choice in shoes! To look and act and live perfect lives is exhausting but you will only recognize this if you can step away. Like a long commute in for work every day of the week, you will only know the relief of the strain of perfectionism once you have stopped the daily habit. What if you could take this weight off your shoulders? What would that feel like? I know you’ve often wondered. When paired with the weight of the iron mask of my own projected self image, my attempts at perfectionism were like chains, anchoring me to a treadmill that never stopped moving. I could not step off, because if I did, I thought myself lazy, and not worthy of any positive thoughts or love. I would be judged, feel shame and there would be fear. The fear of the loss of attention for my huge efforts. I could not risk it. The consequences would be too great.

There must be some escape from this cycle of self-destruction. I can tell you that there is and I hope to show you a way. I view myself as having thrown off all but one or two small lengths of chain with both feet planted on the stationary sides of the treadmill. I hover above it, loathing the endlessly rotating belt. It stares me right in the face and I make no effort to look away. I shout out “I know you are there, and I WILL be rid of you soon.” But there is still much work to be done.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen: Anthem

A huge step in my personal journey evolved when I discovered mindfulness. Becoming aware of your emotions and not over-identifying with them as defining who you are is very challenging and the concept needs to be adequately explained. Dr. Dan Siegel’s work on the Mindsight project is pivotal  in helping us navigate our identity : self, separate from emotion. Not ‘I am sad’ but ‘I feel sad’. Wading through a minefield of possible highs and lows every day and letting it flow. You, as a person and powerful being, afloat and in control of how much emotion you experience. The concept is life changing.

I have my children to thank for this personal evolution because becoming a new parent is one of the scariest, most vulnerable positions to ever find yourself in. Their entry into my life kick-started some amazing changes. No control, no study guide, no possible chance of perfection. I was wrong on many occasions, I needed to adapt and learn but I had no answers readily at hand. I can now very easily admit to my children that ‘Mommy should have done it differently’ and that I too, was learning.

I have historically been very hard on myself. I was never allowed mistakes and I still marvel to this day at people that can take a correction with no offense. Could I ever be that kind to myself? Could I ever love myself enough to say ‘It’s ok Christy, even with your flaws, you are good.’ ?

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. – Christopher K Germer

Great change and self development is always work, but it is my life’s work and it has become a new passion. I see now that perfectionism,  quite frankly, is boring and a dead end. Seeking a better motivator than temporary nods of approval, I am choosing a life free of chains, full of mistakes and laughter over my imperfection. Seeking a commonality with others on their own journey, I am learning to open up and share my ‘woops’ moments. Laughter and connection are becoming a new driving force. I am not alone anymore.

CB

Note: A good portion of my inspiration for this blog-post came from Brene Brown’s book – The Gifts of Imperfection. Reading her work can be transformational if the timing is right. Watch her first TEDx talk here.

Pride – In the Name of Love

Standard
Hold on tight, or better yet….let go. You are worthy of this and so much more.

Hold on tight, or better yet….let go. You are worthy of this and so much more.

It seems like it takes an entire lifetime to break some emotional and behavioural patterns. Even when I think I have one beat, it rears its ugly head merely a week later. This time around it is pride that has tripped me up yet again. ( I am defining pride as a sense of dignity or value in this post, not as the satisfaction of achievement.) To keep a sense of my own value or worth is essential. What am I if I am not worthy? I would be unworthy… and I have come very far in 20 years to a place of knowing that I am worthy of love. I am enough. This is me. Take it or leave it baby.

So to place myself out there, vulnerable and exposed is still so very challenging. Less so with friends, acquaintances or strangers since I am sure now of who I am. Interestingly, it is so much more challenging to speak from my heart with the people that mean the most to me. Why? Because to lose them, to lose their love, would be crushing. I could not bear it. I fear I would never recover.

I can hear the words that I want to say. I repeat them in my head again and again, hoping desperately that the innervation of my vocal cords, tongue and jaw will just take command and spill out what I cannot. Around and around they swirl like a mantra and just as I feel like I will overcome it the bricks from the wall that I thought I had slain fly together from out of nowhere, lodging together, tight at the seams and like that… it is done. The block is back. Frack. We’re back to this. *sigh*. Maybe next time I will be strong enough.

So what is it that I am so incapable of saying? What terrifies me so much that it seals my lips tight? Admitting that I need someone. Admitting that I love someone so much that to be without them would leave me lost. I live in fear of full celebration of the joys of love, simply because if I acknowledge what I have, it is that much more painful to lose it.

So there it is. Simply put but undeniably complicated. How many of us have great things in our lives? Do you fully embrace and celebrate them, or do you also hold back? How many of us have walked away from amazing opportunities because we feel that if we commit entirely and put ourselves ‘out there’ that there will be so much more to lose? You may not even recognize that you are making the decision to hold back. It can be instinct. Habit. Self-protection.

How do we get there? How do we push through the fear of loss of our sense of worth in those relationships that we hold so dear? I can only see a path of practice taking me to my ultimate goal. The only way to create new neural pathways and thus new behaviours is to do the work. SO back to the front lines I go, battling demons whose familiarity is stifling. Yet I brandish new hope against them, fighting every day for what is mine.

CB

Link

Terrifying Joy

I have had a book on my shelf for over a year. The first time I tried to read it, I felt like it did not make any sense or that it was not written so I could easily read or understand its’ messages. I put it away at the back of the shelf.

Time lapse to 2 weeks ago and my life has taken me down a completely unexpected road. I caught a post on Facebook and watched my first Brene Brown video on youTube. I remembered that had been given that book…one of her’s – ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. I started reading and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that point in my life’s journey.

I am so thankful for instinct and learning and for finding the strength to make bold changes.

Enjoy the video. Lean into your moments of joy.

CB