Updated: Jan 25, 2021
you’re not perfect.
it’s also OK to be a little bit obsessed with the moments when you get to feel perfect - like…
getting tagged in a photo of yourself that turns out shockingly well.
finding an outfit that particularly flatters all your best assets.
celebrating a big win that makes you feel valued, valuable, wanted, seen.
(other things that make you feel better about yourself)
we live in a culture that pays more attention to us,
the closer we get to seeming “perfect.”
it’s the same culture that created our parents - the people who literally created us - so, of course we’re hardwired for that craving, too.
in complete honesty, we’re all kind of crack babies when it comes to attention - we’re predetermined to fiend for it. but there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting attention. the problem only shows its face when we start thinking we need to be perfect in order to be worthy of attention. falling into patterns like...
taking a trillion selfies, spending hours putting filters on them, still hating how you look & spiraling into insecurity.
constantly customizing your wardrobe to hide all the parts of yourself you find ugly, fat, awkward, etc.
pretending you are winning when you aren’t, because you’re worried people won’t want you if you’re struggling.
(other things that make you wish you weren't you)
we then might become resentful, bitter, jealous, etc (and then beat ourselves up for being "a bad person" for feeling these things).
but you're not fucked up.
you're just being mind fucked.
by your own mind.
one of my favorite humans, Elizabeth Gilbert points out that maybe Perfectionism isn’t the great motivator. what if it's actually the sneaky motherfucker wreaking havoc on any shot we have at genuine happiness with ourselves & our lives?
“I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it's just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more that a deep existential angst the says, again and again, 'I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”
what if our wishes for perfection are actually our vulnerability and fear, dressed up as impressive goals or socially acceptable ambitions, attempting to justify our basic human need for attention?
most of us aren't given the attention we need. and we're also not encouraged to give ourselves attention. we're actually punished for it! and told we’re selfish, insensitive or indulgent. if we look for the attention we need in others, we’re usually made to feel like we haven’t done anything in order to deserve that attention. but when we strive to be better (i.e. closer to perfection), then we’re usually (finally) considered more desirable by those around us - and therefore given more attention - which makes us finally feel worthy.
and then, BOOM.
this toxic love triangle is locked in for life:
the only way out of this mind fuck brings us to this question:
wtf can we do to create more self worth?
but really, that's a trick question. because the answer is just another question -
and this is the real question we need to/never really ask ourselves:
wtf can we do less of that would automatically make us feel less shitty about who we are & who we aren't?
the truth is, self worth doesn't need to be created.
it just needs to be relocated.
also, true self worth isn't something reserved for your higher, more enlightened self. most of us think self worth is something we aspire to. but it's actually inborn. like, our ground floor.
your anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness are usually symptoms of your self worth -
screaming at you about who you are, what you want, need, deserve & aren't giving yourself.
you might need to look a little deeper at the ugly stuff. the jealousy, the cravings for attention, the overthinking and heaviness... they are your road map. so, don't be afraid to ask yourself for directions.
1. SIMPLY NOTICE THE SYMPTOMS:
If you feel jealous, resentful, bitter, etc just recognize it - “that shit makes me feel a way. why tf do they have so many followers/money, etc? WTF am I doing wrong?”
2. ASK IF IT’S REAL
without judging how you feel about it, ask yourself if what you're mad about is REALLY what you’re mad about. usually you’ll hear an automatic answer inside yourself calling out “Yes!” or “No…”
3. DETERMINE THE ROOT CAUSE
whether your gut reaction is “Yes’ or “No” the next step is to ask “WHY." Why do you think it’s bullshit that they’re winning bigger than you?”
4. KEEP ASKING WHY
every time you answer the question, ask WHY again. answer again. then, ask WHY again. just like an actual child has zero issue asking you WHY WHY WHY to every single answer you give them, your inner child will pipe up. let them. they know the way back to the ground floor.
5. WAIT FOR IT
It’s hard to say exactly when, but eventually you’re going to get to a point where one of your gut responses to all these WHY questions will stop you dead in your tracks. it might be some nasty thought you’d never tell anyone else out loud or some private confession or some long forgotten grudge or childhood nightmare you didn’t even know was still with you. when you get to it, you’ll probably hold your breath for a second in shock but the feeling will be BINGO. give yourself permission to exhale that breath when you get there. it takes energy to dig and you struck gold.
6. AIR THAT SHIT OUT
before you freak out, i’m not going to tell you to share this with anyone. you don’t have to admit to your family member or best friend that you’ve been silently bitching about them in your head for years. airing it out means letting yourself sit with what you’ve found. maybe you realized you’ve always wanted to pursue a career that your parents said you weren’t good enough for. maybe you realized your sexuality has been stuffed away under your cultural beliefs. maybe you remembered something that said or never said to you that has been the underlying cause for every toxic thing you’ve ever done or not done for yourself.
7. SAY THANK YOU
before we can get rid of our ugly inner voices or thoughts, we usually have to say thank you to them first. because those ugly thoughts were just trying to protect what’s beautiful about us - that we’ve probably never given ourselves the chance to see - because we didn’t feel like we had the permission to. the ugly thoughts are the same as the Perfectionism monster. they’re just big phony disguises for what’s tender and raw and true in us that feels scared and unsafe. if we say a big fat thank you to that gnarly bitch in us, we signal that it’s done its job. and it can bow out now. we know what needs to be done.
8. PICK YOUR POISON MEDICINE
the last part is all about practice. what do you know that you want now? and how do you want to pursue it? practice will never make you perfect. but practice will make you powerful.