I was on a coaching session with a client (I got permission to share this) and we were celebrating with “Woo-Hoo’s” and lots of hooting and hollering about the new position she was just offered, and her delight and excitement of this amazing opportunity.
Not less than a moment later, she paused and said, “Wow, I’m really scared, I’m throwing myself into something I know very little about, but am very interested in learning.” We both laughed at the recognition of how funny us humans are. We get really excited about something and then not more than a nanosecond later, we focus on our terror around actually doing it. I took a deep breath to just let that insight land. What followed was pure truth. We both laughed and agreed that, “Life is a tad nutty and a bit insane if you’re doing it right.”
Birth, one of the most amazing miracles of life, while jaw dropping in its beauty, is messy, filled with screaming, pushing, lots of fits and starts, and we accept that. Yet when we birth our own life in its wonderful new chapters we expect, or I’ll say, I often watch myself getting almost addicted to what the process “should look like,” often rejecting the reality and therefore negating my growth.
By allowing my own internal buzz kill to decimate the pure pockets of joy that are hungry to be released and experienced we buy into the lie. “If I’m doing it right it should feel this way, and it should look that way.
While that can be true on occasion, there’s the other 98% of the time. I’ve come to see for both myself and the people in my life that when we’re playing full-out in our lives, it’s filled with fits and starts, learning curves that rival the Indie 500. In addition there are almost always uncomfortable feelings that confront our old outdated opinions and beliefs about ourselves and just garden-variety growing pains.
If we’re living our lives fully and really challenging ourselves, life is a tad nutty and a bit insane and the more that we can embrace that and understand that that’s the nature of growth, the less frustrated and stuck we’ll be on a regular basis.
Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the work of Dr. Brene Brown, a researcher/storyteller, as she so playfully calls herself, on one of her TedX talks, who has spent 10 years researching such rich topics as vulnerability, shame, and our hunger for connection on our way to living an authentic life.
There is so much to say about her work and I’m still in the throes of researching her research but I can tell you that it cracked open a place in my heart, and for two days after listening to her TED talks, I couldn’t stop tearing up. In fact when I forwarded it to the peeps in my world, I was amazed that the men in my life were the first to respond to say, “Thank you, I so needed to hear this.”
While I encourage you to run out there and get her book, “The Gift of Imperfection,” and Google her TEDx talks, I will share some of my own insights that I’ve learned from healing from perfectionism, one of the top human assaults on our humanity, joy and fulfillment, that will help to embrace the fact that “life is a tad nutty and a bit insane, when you’re doing it right.”
Four ways to address shame head on, and start to heal from perfectionism
1) Say “Ouch!” regularly when you get your feelings hurt. It sounds silly but it really works. Just like when a little kid skins his knee and says, “Ouch!” and runs to his or her Mommy, we need to give a voice to when our feelings are hurt. I sometimes place my hand over my heart and say, “Ouch, that really hurt, or I’m really disappointed.” It’s amazing how just telling the truth and having compassion for yourself starts to shift things.
2) The power of a Goddess Vent- My dear friend Vicky and I have a code word for when we just need to share, feel witnessed or “empty our basket,” as I heard it said. We call each other and say, “I could use a goddess vent, are you free?” We just share our story of what happened, what we’re feeling and mostly just listen to each other. One of the greatest gift for healing hurt and recovering from chronic perfectionism, or shame, is rapt attention. Be VERY selective who you choose to share your story with, make sure it’s a safe person that can meet your needs. When we’re facing our deep vulnerability and shame, you just don’t throw your story around to anyone who will listen.
3) Ride the wave- Sometimes we get afraid because this amazing new opportunity is coming into our lives, and our body surges with energy. Don’t get caught up in “figuring it out.” Believe me from a recovering “I analyze therefore I am” dyed in wool Virgo, it won’t do much good. Instead, just ride the wave. Some people ride the wave by doing some physical exercise. I love to dance through it, others need to do some deep breathing and meditating. Newness brings a surge of energy. If we spend so much time in our head about it, we can’t just let it flow and take advantage of this extraordinary resource called our life force energy.
4) Extract the luscious life lesson- There’s always a lesson in a growth opportunity that we’re having. Maybe someone else’s thoughtless behavior can be a mirror of our own, or an old hurt from a pattern of not taking care of ourselves in those situations. Being angry is usually about a boundary that either hasn’t been set or honored, or a value that is not being addressed. Once you do the first three steps, it’s amazing how the wisdom is allowed to bubble up, and that’s where the gold is. Don’t rush this process. If you’re still in trigger mode, you’re probably not ready to look at the lesson.
So remember, life is a tad nutty and a bit insane if you’re doing your life right!
And may you embrace the aliveness, dive into the fear, have compassion with that part of yourself that may not be caught up with the other parts that are in “all systems go,” mode. I welcome your experiences, stories, comments and thoughts.