Monday, August 11, 2008

Thoughts from the Wrong Side of the Bed

I am feeling lots of frustration at this personal growth stuff.  It's elusive and slow, and I struggle to find and trust my own perceptions.  I'll have a big realization about myself, like, "Hey!  You're a perfectionist!  Which both enables you to accomplish a lot and inhibits you from fully living your life and having intimacy with others!"  For some reason, I think that realizing something like this and allowing it to actually change my life are the same thing.  Then I'm disappointed when, months or years later, I have the same big realization about myself.  "Hey!  You're still a perfectionist...!"

Here's the thing about being a perfectionist.  It allows me to convince myself that others might see me as perfect, and that creates a lot of pressure to maintain things around me, and to try to tightly control my environment.  Then, when my loved ones lovingly (or brutally, depending) remind me that they see all my glorious imperfections and distasteful flaws, have seen them all along, I wasn't every fooling anybody to begin with, I feel shattered.  Blown to pieces.  I forgot to simply appreciate the fact that I AM SEEN, and that I'm worthy of love despite those flaws.  Instead, I embark on a campaign of mean self-talk and flagellation, trying to whip those flaws out of me.  Which, to my great consternation, seems to only make them worse.

Here's how the list might go:

I talk too fast.
I'm too self-absorbed.
I'm a shitty listener.
I care too much about keeping the house (or office, or car, or whatever) clean.
I'm easily hurt.
I'm easily defensive.
I isolate myself.
I think I'm the greatest!
I think I'm the worst!
I have trouble showing others love.
I get too focused on one thing at a time and miss the big picture.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  I don't know--what picture does it paint?  Classic type A?  First born?  Control freak?  Obsessive compulsive?  Over-emotional?  All are words friends and family have used in the past few weeks to describe my behavior.  All feel unfair, incomplete, apt, frightening.

Wouldn't it be interesting to come at this a different way?  To view myself with some compassion and amusement?  Wouldn't it be fruitful to accept some of these painful criticisms as observations and not condemnations?  To rephrase them as:

I am an enthusiastic communicator who wants to share my perspective with others.
I appreciate, get inspiration from, and feel safe in physical environments that are ordered and beautiful.
I care deeply for my friends and family, and like to feel I'm important in their lives.
I have a lot of self confidence, which enables me to try new things, meet new people, and find joy in accomplishment.
I'm receptive to feedback from others.
I enjoy practicing and mastering new skills and abilites.

These sentences don't sit easily with me.  But I have a sense that reframing my relationship to imperfection is going to be important if I'm to keep growing.

Blech.  I guess this is why they call it "working on yourself."  It definitely feels like work.

1 comment:

  1. This is a brave post, Juje. I so admire all that you've accomplished, and the grace with which you've done it. you're a total mooj.