I Am a Secret Perfectionist.

Holy crap you guys!  I have made a mind blowing discovery.  I am a secret perfectionist!

If you subscribe to my newsletter (or you read my last post) you know that I have been taking an e-course with Brené Brown on Courage Works. On Sunday I was getting some reading done in Daring Greatly so I can move on to the third part of the course.

The section I was reading was on vulnerability armor.  The ways we try to avoid and hide our vulnerability.

I totally thought to myself “I am beyond armor.  I am so good at vulnerability that I probably could skip this part, but I really want to get the most our of the course so I will read it anyway.”

Seriously!  How sneaky is our ego?

Now a little back story.  My dad and step mom were coming over for dinner and my house looked like… well it looked like an adventurous and creative family of six live here.  There were breakfast dishes that had been abandoned so we could go hiking with my Father-in law that morning.  There were baskets of clean laundry that needed folding.  There were imaginary scenarios set up all over the living room floor waiting for little hands to return to playing.

I surveyed my surroundings and started to panic.

“How will I ever get this all cleaned up in time for company.”

“I haven’t even looked at the bathroom.  For the love how bad is the bathroom?”

Panic turned to fear.

“I am going to be judged.”

“My parents will think I suck.”

Fear manifested itself (as it usually does) as blame and anger.

“Why is the house always such a mess!”

“Help me clean this up!”

“Get things done!”

Anybody else turn into scary mommy when company is coming?  I become so blinded by my panic, fear, blame and anger that I can’t see the shame I am pouring all over myself.

“You are a mess.”

“You just can’t get your shit together.”

Once the over reactive preparations for our guests ended I curled up to read my book.  Ironically this is a tool I use to calm myself and relax before people show up at my house.  I read until they get here.

I open the chapter called The Vulnerability Armory and I read the part about foreboding joy.  I recognize a few symptoms in myself, and I promise to pay attention to when I might be wrecking the moment with fearful thoughts of the joy not lasting.

The next shield of vulnerability in the armory is perfectionism.  So not me.  I mean come on I’m usually navigating chaos and there ain’t nothing going on here that seems to be perfect.

Then I read this part:

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame.

Whoa!  That was me an hour ago!  Crazy nutball mom trying to corral everyone into helping her get rid of the messes so that people don’t see them.

Dumping blame all over myself.  Being a wrecking ball of self-destruction.

Thankfully Brené  offers an antidote to perfectionism.  It’s as simple and as FREAKING hard as self compassion.

“…we have to make the long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.””

This is where I am this week.  Digging in to how to succeed at being on this journey.  Because when I put up a vulnerability shield I block deepening relationship.  I repel love and kindness.  I become someone I don’t particularly like.

As with most things “I am enough” will require practice.  It will mean that I step out of my comfort zone and there will probably be growing pains.  I will step into the arena and get my ass kicked, but I will also learn to live whole.  And that is worth it.

photo credit: Rhys A. Philadelphia Spectrum demolition: Smashing! via photopin (license)

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