Chasing This Elusive Siren
“What’s one thing do you do perfectly?”
Pause. Silence. Think. Stare at blank page for several minutes. Walk away for couple hours to see if inspiration strikes.
It is such a beautifully simple question. Just one thing.
So why is it so hard to answer?
The weirdness around perfection is that it means something different to everyone. Which is why we can spend a lot of time…even years, chasing this elusive siren. Being perfect was my way of showing up to get the approval of others. If I just tried hard enough and was the perfect daughter/student/girlfriend/employee/wife/mother, you name it, then of course I would be accepted, loved, appreciated, respected and I could breathe and relax. The problem with that is, I was taking on the responsibility for how others viewed and felt about me, in addition for my own thoughts and feelings about me. Doing double duty is exhausting, stressful, and an exercise in futility. Because doing “all the right things” didn’t always get me the prize. Cue the cycle of self-doubt, limiting beliefs and the creeping fear that I wasn’t good enough!!
I wore perfection like a shield. It was a way of hiding who I really was. I thought it made me strong and kept me safe when all it did was keep me separate from the deeper connections I truly craved.
And if I am being honest, that pattern of perfection, that way of being, is still part of who I am. It rises when I’m embarking on something new, becoming an expanded version of who I want to be. But what I am learning through my journey is that the real strength is in laying down the shield. Standing open, vulnerable, and authentically in who I am. That I am ENOUGH right now, in this moment.
That is the truth. We are all perfectly imperfect and we are all enough right now!
So how do I bridge the gap between the well established habit of perfectionism and finding the courage to lay down the shield and show up as ME? I breathe.
This is the one thing I do perfectly each and every day. Being alive and human means we breathe and this happens unconsciously every moment of every day. But the discovered magic is when I turn my focus to my conscious breath. I don’t even have to close my eyes (which helps when driving!) When I’m feeling anxious, stressed, or constricted in my mind or body from those perfectionist tendencies, I remind myself to focus on my breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Again. And again. I breathe into those tight, constricted areas, soothing them with oxygen and energy. I’m doing it while writing this blog!
I do this until I can feel a softening or ease in those tight places. Some days it happens quickly, some days not, and some days I have to return to it several times. But it doesn’t matter because every time I do it brings a little peace. A knowing that I am here, I am okay, and I am strong enough to lay down the shield and stand authentically in who I am.
Written by: Kirsten Frey