It’s not really a revelation to me that I could use some self-compassion. I’m taking Brené Brown’s e-course on The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and am trying to give myself some love. I found a photo of myself as a 4-year-old… she was comfortable in her own skin, curious, playful, sweet, imaginative (exactly how my sweet girl is now, actually). And I remember myself as a 20-year-old college girl striving so so hard for the approval of others so that she would feel she belonged. I want to tell her:
“You are already enough.”
“It’s ok to be afraid.”
“There is untapped strength within you.”
“You are never really alone.”
Brené says that perfectionism and self-compassion are inversely proportional. Perfectionism is about gaining the approval of others. Huh. See… I think I am mostly trying to gain my own approval. There’s nobody here but myself telling me to go, go, go. If I spent a few hours on the sofa watching a movie one morning, it would not be the end of the world. And yet, I don’t do it. It would be lazy.
I got a massage a couple weeks ago because I had wound myself up so tight that I had a tension headache for a week. It’s probably from running running running, mind whirling constantly, never at peace.
You will probably laugh at this, but I had a piece of paper and a pencil on the massage table with me so that when an idea or task popped into my head, I could quickly scribble it down. I thought it would relax me to know that it was all there and I could let it go from my mind. I guess it wasn’t a usual thing because the massage therapist thought I was nuts. (I already keep my phone on during the session in case my daughter’s school calls, and we hear a lot of e-mail “dings” throughout the hour… not exactly relaxing either.) I ended up with a page of chicken scratch because it was very dark in there.
The questions is: WHY??? Why do I do this to myself? I am exhausted. No wonder I look forward all day to curling up into bed with a book, just relaxing, letting my frizzy hair wind itself into a rat’s nest as it does every night. (I envy women who can get out of bed and go exercise or drop their kids off at school looking pretty ok.)
I definitely am a perfectionist though. On the near horizon: Turkey Day at my house and my daughter’s 5th birthday party. Of course, I overdo it with wanting everything to look “just so.” I’ve been painting over smudges on walls, ordering cute throw pillows, vacuuming cat litter and crumbs almost every day, planning menus… trying to see our house (and our life) as someone else would.
Is the perfectionism, as Brene suggests, a shield to protect my vulnerability? What would it matter if I were seen as I am in any moment, messy or cluttered or blah? Who would really care if there were a pile of my daughter’s artwork in a corner somewhere? Wouldn’t it be fine if someone, looking for the restroom, opened the door to the hall closet and found it to be an enormous mess? Aren’t we all just doing the best we can?
I am calm. I am weary. I’ve surrendered. I’ve accepted. As we declared on the first day of class, I am imperfect and I am enough, just like this. I choose to let my imperfections sparkle.
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I won’t be following my usual blogging routine this week. Let’s say I’m trying to practice cutting myself some slack! We have lots of family plans for Thanksgiving and Chanukah and I hope to soak in as much joy as I can. I have so much to share with you in December – fun books, art projects, the rest of our home update, and some final Alaska photos. I’ll be back on Sunday with the One Little Word blog hop.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Even if you aren’t observing American Thanksgiving, I hope you will focus on how much simple abundance you have in your lives and all around you.