Last time, we talked about the myth of perfection and how perfection and shame are near relatives. Perfection is typically about living in a way that is about making other people happy (or impressing them). Where living authentically is usually less hurtful (though possible more uncomfortable at times) and there is a lot more compassion towards others and ourselves.
It’s a slow spiral that we slip down when we start to look around and compare. And it is so easily done. From comparing what someone else has worn to a party to marveling at the contents of someone else’s grocery cart. We are social creatures so we are constantly taking in information about our environment and the people around us and it is natural to compare and wonder who is doing it right….
From Berne Brown’s, “Gifts of Imprefection:”
“Comparison is about conformity and competition. At first it seems like conforming and competing are mutually exclusive, but they’re not. When we compare, we want to see who or what is best out of a specific collection of “alike things.” We may compare things like how we parent with parents who have totally different values or traditions than use but the comparisons that get us really riled up are the ones we make with folks living next door, or on our children’s soccer team, or at our school. We don’t compare our houses to the mansions across town...
.... The comparison mandate becomes this crushing paradox of “fit in and stand out!” It’s not cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, and authenticity; it’s be just like everyone else, but better."
Having to be the same only a lot better is a lot of work!! Especially when we don’t always agree on what a lot better is, which makes BETTER a constantly moving target.
The other day I was thinking about easily we seem to accept that our figure prints are unique but we seem to really struggle with the idea that we as people are just as unique. Our needs, perspectives, struggles, fears, etc are just as unique as the patterns on our fingers yet we seem to insist on being what everyone else is or having what everyone else has (only better).
Yikes!! That would be scary. Because authenticity is messy and it is doesn’t always look like what everyone looks like or sound like things people like or are comfortable with. It doesn’t always fit into a tidy, easily understood space.
I found this Buddhist proverb:
There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.
What if the only person you compared yourself to is the person you used to be? You can look back on him/her with compassion and love and see that you have taken strides and grown. And possibly even think about how the you in 10 years would like to look back on the you today.
There is nothing noble about pretending to be like anyone else... And it is a lot of work keeping up the facade. It’s scary to stop!! But can you imagine how freeing it could be?!
As always, I’m here! What is something small that you can give up on today? I dare you. 🙂
For a long time, I wouldn’t even consider myself a perfectionist because I wasn’t good enough at being
ok to even call myself an aspiring perfectionist. Without realizing it, I existed to make other people happy or at least make them think I was doing well without any help.
Somewhere along the way, my self worth got caught up in the idea that if the people around me thought I was ‘ok’ then maybe I would actually be ok.
Obviously, I wasn’t waking up every morning wondering, “How can I impress people today?” This mindset develops over time. And certainly once you notice/realize it is there it doesn’t simply vanish.
We live in a world where we are told what to eat, how often to have sex, what to weigh, how to decorate, etc. We are shown and average 3,000 ads per day! There is absolutely no way that doesn’t have an impact on us.
If I chased you around all day and told you, “You’re so pretty!” 3,000 times each day, that would absolutely have an impact on you! First, you would find me terribly annoying. Second, you may start to believe that you are actually pretty damn foxy.
While I didn’t consciously seek to impress people each day, I did need the validation of others to know that I was doing even sort of ok. The problem with that was even with the validation, I wasn’t really happy or getting what I wanted out of life.
Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.
– Margaret Young
Why won’t making more money, having the ‘right’ stuff, etc make me happier?! They are supposed to!
Bene Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfections” writes that where perfectionism exists, shame lives. And it bleeds into everything we do.
Typing my home was one of a lot of things I’ve done to strip away (literally) the things I think other people think I should have and leave myself only with the things that I love just because I love them. Something else I have done is slowly remove the people from my life that need the approval of others in order to be ok. I needed to do this because I knew that I couldn’t be different, be myself while surrounded by people that were terrified by anyone that didn’t fit into what is ‘supposed to be.’ And that encourages shame too.
We all have it. We are all going to be working to move it out of our lives because it’s a process.
Are you ready to be imperfect and shine a little light on that shame? I think reading that book would be a great start.
As always, I’m here and would love to hear from you. Tell me about your shame. What makes it hard to let go of? Who makes it hard to let go of?