Go Gently, Dear One
Never before have we lived so publicly. Moments that in the past were sacred, now fill the perfectly curated little squares of Instagram. We so willingly share our lives, our most precious, private moments. Even if you are not a ‘sharer’, chances are you have a Facebook account and have caught yourself on occasion questioning whether you should be drinking green juice or bulletproof coffee for breakfast? Or, viewing your home, children or career through the lens of social media?
If you have a predisposition to perfectionism, then social media can be a mine field, and one that requires a lot of your discernment. It has the ability to connect us like never before; but it also has the ability to be so noisy you cannot hear your own voice, your own wisdom, your own truth.
Our judgement of ourselves is so closely interconnected with perfection and comparison that having the discernment to know what it is true for us feels seemingly impossible.
We spend our days watching life dancing in front of us and feel as though it is somewhat out of reach.
We find it hard to move one foot in front of the other at times without knowing what is next.
We live in the divide between what we are experiencing and what we believe exists beyond us.
We forget the quiet within us, and we forget how to breathe ourselves full again.
We see our habits and long to change them; we laser focus in on our worn out ways of being and we feel tired of all the ways we are doing it ‘wrong’.
And, we are so damn hard on ourselves.
The allure of perfection was a stumbling block for me for longer than I care to admit, and it saw me seeking approval in all the wrong places.
Funnily enough, it has been motherhood that has radically shifted my obsession or need for perfection. From the moment River was placed upon my chest I felt it all dissolve away. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting childbirth is the only way forward, I know this will look different for everyone.
But, the sacred and utterly unique relationship between mother and child has been one of mutual unfolding; when we birth our babies we are stripped bare, taken down in parts and then offered a divine opportunity to take inventory. It is within those first quiet moments as a new mother I felt my cells change, my armour drop to the floor and with it – perfection. I believe it is because in my role as River’s mother I trust myself, wholeheartedly. I don’t scroll Instagram for the validation or approval as a mother.
I don’t seek outside of my instincts for the answer, or in times where I don’t have the answer I practise kindness, compassion and gentleness with myself and go about asking for help.
I recognise that to give River the best of me, there is no room for perfection. Parenthood isn’t perfect, and I think that is why it is so challenging, and so beautiful.
While this has been the case for me in motherhood, it certainly hasn’t always been the case in – life! Using my relationship with perfection to my advantage in my work has its benefits; yet entertaining my relationship with perfection in my life has at times been paralysing.
Living in a state of striving can feel exhausting, competitive and breathless.
What I have learnt as a perfectionist:
1. Your perfection seeking ways will only serve you to a point. And, if left untamed will cause you more harm than good.
2. You will grow tired of your pursuit of perfection
3. Perfectionism is a breeding ground for self-judgement, and we can be so very cruel in our judgements of ourselves
4. Give perfection a platform like social media and you best strap yourself in for a turbulent ride
What I have really learnt about perfectionism is that kindness and self-compassion are the answers, we seek.
Dr Kristin Neff describes Self-Compassion as having three basic components: noticing suffering, being kind and caring in response to that suffering, then remembering imperfection is part of the human experience.
I look at my life through a different and kinder lens these days.
In times of social media overwhelm, I delete the apps.
In times of breathlessness; I stop. I practise ease. I breathe.
In times of perfection overwhelm, I count my blessings.
In times of striving, I connect back into Mother Earth.
And, in the times I feel that life is passing me by and it should look a different way, I stop, and I whisper, ‘Go gently, Jody’.
My hope is you hear me whispering this to you, too.