In a group conversation this week, we used a lot of metaphors to describe where we felt we stood at present. I used a phrase from Leonard Cohen’s poem/song Atheum ‘There’s a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’. I feel, I’m beginning to see the light struggling to break through the foundation of the pandemic.
Another participant talked of surfing; riding the waves, cresting, going down and rising again. We all agreed that what we are feeling is hope in whatever reality each of us currently occupies. What I had forgotten was that later in that poem Cohen writes ‘Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.’
Do what you can…
In another words, do what you can. Focus on what you can control, forget about being perfect. Too often we try to do everything perfectly, to be seen as the perfect person, business owner etc… and showing the world our perfect self. Right now we’re being challenged to change our focus, from perfection to being perfectly imperfect. In this article from Psychology Today, Irene Strauss Cohen, PhD says ‘Perfectionism lives and breathes in your fear of making a mistake’. In other words when we live in fear of making a mistake, we actually don’t always make the best decisions, and therefore are further away from perfection than if we had just forged ahead!
Afraid of mistakes?
How often have you feared speaking aloud because you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake, or gone back to a project and rewritten it time and time again so that it can be perfect? Problem is, it will never be, because you’re dealing with different perceptions of perfection. Living in fear of not getting it right means we’re always living elsewhere. Not in the present, in the moment but in the future, and often in the past, reliving those past mistakes.
It’s a matter of mindset. Brene Brown says that we have an inherent belief that ‘if we are perfect we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame’. A longing to being perfect demonstrates a need for external approval. And, that kind of approval, the one you are longing for – it will never come.
We need to decide what is important to us. What are the values we believe in and use these to measure ourselves against. When we begin to look internally, to think about what we are trying to accomplish and measure our enoughness (yes, my word!), against our own markers, we begin to change and we will be enough.
Sounds simple, hah! It takes courage to decide to be okay with imperfection. Constant work to change our mindset, particularly because many of the impressions we have absorbed are those of others throughout our life. The well-meaning remark when you were 15 about how if you lost a few pounds you’d be beautiful; from a friend of your mothers; or the teacher who wrote that you were hopeless at math. All those remarks that we’ve taken in and made part of who we believe we are… Life is stressful enough, why are we adding to it with thoughts of worthlessness… The friends you have, who accept you, flaws and all are the ones you want and they will support you and accept you because of, not in spite of, your perceived flaws. So, stop each time you look externally for approval and tell yourself ‘I am enough’, use that energy to be you!
Resilience is a word that has gained popularity today, but what does it mean? Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to learn from our experiences, and where possible grow stronger from that learning. It’s the ability to believe, and rely on yourself, an understanding that you have control of your environment, or at least your reaction to the environment you find yourself in at any one time. Resilience is the a word we sometimes use when we see someone we admire. Who carry themselves in a way that exudes confidence, strength. Who laugh at their mistakes and move on! Which leads us to…
The ability to let go
Letting go of what is holding us back, of accepting that we will make mistakes and acknowledging who we really are – not who we want to be seen to be. It’s about letting go of the stories we’ve carried with us for many years, moving forward. Catching ourselves as we begin the dialogue of negative self-talk, and changing the conversation. It’s about…
Making our own decisions
Not looking to others for advice and expecting them to help us solve whatever it is that we are wrangling with. To tell us what you should do, sharing our confusion, pain and anxiety with others hoping that they will have the answers, rather than looking inside for the answers. Nobody has a better answer to our particularly problem than each of us! As we grow in confidence and accept who we are, we’re able to recognize what we want and the next step to take. Coaching believes that each of us has the answer inside us, and as coaches our job is to help each client by asking simple questions that aids in finding the solution that is inside each individual. You may not always get it right the first time, but that’s okay, success is in the trying, We grow in confidence in our ability to make decisions and move toward our goals. We feel peace with where we are in life. And, the ongoing journey toward something new will bring more joy, and becomes more rewarding as we progress.
So as you negotiate this crazy time of life, look for the cracks and find where the light comes in. Listen for those bells. And remember, if you want a partner to push you to rediscover your inner genius, contact me…..