“Regardless of where we are on this continuum, if we want freedom from perfectionism, we have to make the long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.” That journey begins with shame resilience, self-compassion, and owning our stories. To claim the truths about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, and the very imperfect nature of our lives, we have to be willing to give ourselves a break and appreciate the beauty of our cracks or imperfections. To be kinder and gentler with ourselves and each other.”
-Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
I was a serial perfectionist for years, and I still sometimes fall into thoughts and behaviors designed to control the world around me. It’s incredibly difficult to let go of the illusion of control when you’ve convinced yourself that your perfectionistic tendencies are what’s holding the world together. I’ve alluded to this struggle in previous posts, but I have a really hard time changing my daily schedule to accommodate something as awesome as blogging, because I am terrified that I will lost control over other things in the process, such as my workout schedule, my sleep schedule, etc. Then I melodramatically envision the consequences of this change in my mind–I’ll suddenly slack on sleep, won’t make time to exercise regularly, will inevitably gain 20 pounds in a week–ya know, really logical stuff. Control is my crack. It ensures that I remain really really good at perfecting the few things that I allow into my life. But as you can see from this example, it holds me back from doing things that actually align with my values and desires. It keeps my life confined within a narrow little box, for fear that I’ll suddenly be inadequate at balancing multiple facets of a rich, fulfilling life.
Although I’ve been aware of this tradeoff for a while now, I wasn’t exactly sure of how to break the cycle of perfectionism and really live intentionally. Then, while reading Daring Greatly, I stumbled upon the passage above and it become oddly clear. Instead of rigorously controlling everything in my life, I could simply practice and cultivate resilience. To me, resilience is the ability to adapt to any new situation, event, or occurrence in life, handle it with grace, and then carry on living from a place of love and alignment. In this definition of resilience, I can handle anything that’s thrown my way and still believe that I am worthy once I come out on the other side. And when I do emerge, I don’t bring any new limiting beliefs with me. While perfectionism guarantees a safe, “positive” outcome, resilience surrenders to the possibilities at hand, ultimately presenting an opportunity for growth. And while perfectionism is typically accompanied by self-admonishment, resilience necessitates self-compassion.
With this in mind, my mantra for 2018 is as follows: Resilience, Not Perfection. My goal is to let abundance into my life, in terms of friendships, hobbies, adventures, etc., and to surrender to the ambiguity of exactly what that will entail. I aim to be my own biggest supporter along the way, treating myself with kindness and respect as I live each and every day in alignment with my beliefs and desires, even when that inevitably means breaking out of my comfort zone and inviting chaos into my life. With resilience, chaos loses any power it might once have held. With resilience, chaos merely fuels the fire of a full, intentional life. Sign me right up!