Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking. In fact, shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. ~Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
I spent most of my formative years equating love with achievement and performance.
If I made good grades, first chair clarinet, captain of the cheerleading squad, and ran around with a crowd of high-achieving girlfriends, I believed I was good enough when everything around me at home was saying the opposite. If I couldn’t change my circumstances, I would earn love and acceptance by performing well and staying out of the way.
I took the slow, circuitous route toward believing that I am what I accomplish. And even now, when I’m in a position of risk, I feel like my entire self-worth is on the line. It’s why I’m procrastinating on writing my book.
Why else would a writer who has agents scouting her put it off?
A few months ago, while on vacation at our summer cottage in Canada, I sat on the couch in a silent trance, watching water droplets slide down the large pane windows in the living room, a computer resting on my legs. The house and beach were silent; rain pushed vacationers inside like a doting grandmother.
My family planned to make the rain day productive, drove the hour into town with a shopping list. I gave myself permission to stay back and write with H’s blessing. It would be the first time in a week to open my computer.
I didn’t expect a solitary day of writing to become the day I started to recognize the voice of shame and the way it debilitates. But then again, so much of life doesn’t go according to plan, does it?
I sat down to write and began self-editing — on the first paragraph.
Erase. Start over again. Erase. Repeat. Nothing was good enough.
For four hours I lived with the heaviness of inadequacy. At least that was the voice I was hearing. My attempt at writing was the introduction leading to chapters of self-criticism on a teeter-totter of themes.
The best part? I recognized the spiral of negativity leading to the black hole of unworthiness I was listening to in my head. And instead of giving up, I practiced what Brene Brown calls shame resilience.
I began telling myself the truth.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4
I paced around the living room until the rain stopped, then I took these photos and sat in a lawn chair on the beach writing in my journal. I thought about all that time I had to myself and how little I accomplished.
And then I realized that those hours I spent alone were actually a divine appointment. God’s intention for me that day wasn’t about writing, it was about finding wholeness.
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. ~Christopher K. Germer
How do you practice self-compassion?
This is day 4 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End, a series dedicated to chart the path towards the practice of truly loving ourselves the way Jesus does. To find out more, click the button below or this link and add your email address to the Subscribe box in the sidebar so you don’t miss a thing.