So, I’ve been slowly wading my way through Brene Browns Daring Greatly and let me tell you, it’s a “one day at a time” sort of book. There is so much in there and it’s really got that researchers touch that appeals to the mathematician in me. Lady has mad skills.
So, she talks about certain shields that all of us as humans tend to apply to protect ourselves from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We wrap ourselves in a coat of thoughts, behaviors and emotions that we think protect us from harm.
I found that as I read some of the chapters I was saying “Huh, that’s what so and so does, that’s interesting” but then we hit the perfectionism chapter and I found myself underlining EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH and saying to myself “that’s what I do.” It was interesting to connect with some stuff so deeply.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame.
–Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Crap…girl just got all up inside my head. I totally see a lot of this in myself. The good thing is that after 7 years in triathlon I understand what striving for excellence means and have had many successful quests in this department. But I also identify greatly with the second sentence, the concept that perfection insulates me from judgement. I struggle when judged. Another quote that came later in the book ties in this with this. After I read this quote in the book I had to put it down for awhile. I really did. Mind. On. Fire. (Underlined Part)
It’s this tightrope that has to be walked and I’m really coming to understand more and more that allowing yourself some leeway is so important. The perfectionist (me) struggles with leeway, with self forgiveness. It’s the little things: not being able to be everything to everyone, not being able to cook and clean and train and mother and get enough sleep and maintain meaningful relationships with my friends, my athletes, my coach, my parents, all while dressing cute and applying sunscreen (seriously, I feel like this last one is going to undo me sometimes). I’m incredibly hard on myself when I drop a ball, despite my intentions being in the right place all along.
Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous, and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.”
— Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
This last quote is in no way a dig on my parents. I have great parents, they taught me manners, how to respect others, and they taught me how to show people love with my actions. Both my parents are some of the most generous people on this planet, whether it’s with their time, their food, or their knowledge. They taught me to give of myself to others, to help and be available to people in need. I am one of the best mama bears you can have around you. I nurture people with my actions. It’s a big part of who I am and that’s what makes it hard to find that gap between ME and PERFECTIONISM. How do you keep the good stuff and let go of the shield. I’m learning it’s all in the WHY!
Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy we spend trying.
–Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
That was a big ah-hah. I really have to separate the intention behind my actions into two separate categories
— Because I want to <—-GOOD
— Because I feel I need to for approval <—-PERFECTIONISM
I have found that since reading this chapter from her book I find myself repeating “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good” really often. Probably 3-5 times a day I catch myself doing something and I have to say those words in my head.
Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.
(In his writings, a wise Italian
says that the best is the enemy of the good)
–Voltaire, La Bégueule
So, here’s to moving forward in a more half-ass way! It feels good to read a book for once that doesn’t make me feel like I need to be more, do more, be better, etc. I feel like the important take away from the book is to have the courage to be vulnerable, imperfect, and self-compassionate. That’s where important things in life start to come out of the fog. It’s a weekly thing for me. I find that I’m good, I’m cranking along, and then something will set me off, a missed session, a dirty house, being really tired, and suddenly my perfection-beast is screaming at me to buckle down, stop being lazy, do more, work harder, work faster, oh and smile through it. I’m still trying to really understand my triggers. It’s a work in progress.