I’m a recovering perfectionist. I think I always will be. It runs pretty deep in my DNA. A high drive to produce, contribute and make the world a more beautiful place has merit. We need people like this.
And it could destroy me if I’m not careful.
I have a fantastic coach I meet with twice a month and she helps get me unstuck in leadership and life. Every single call I emerge with a new insight or perspective and it’s a gift. This one isn’t rocket science but I wanted to share.
Who gets to tell you you’re good?
There’s a voice that has a permanent perch on my shoulder and whispers too often, “Don’t enjoy this. Keep hustling and proving and comparing.”
It’s so annoying.
I keep thinking I notice the voice and let it go. Then it morphs and sounds different and gets a bit sneaky. A couple months go by and I realize I was listen to it more than I thought. That little voice convinces me not to write certain things. Not to start a certain project. Not to have that conversation. Or sometimes even worse — don’t ever slow down to enjoy all the goodness around you. Keep going. It’s never enough.
And here’s the problem. We’ve all got our things that keep us from being brave. Your voice likely says something different than mine. But the voice has one mission: to keep us from being fully alive. And once I’ve tasted what it feels like to be fully alive, I don’t want to go back.
So I keep embarking on these journeys into the deeper waters of my life. What voices am I listening to that aren’t real anymore?
Two of my voices that take turns increasing the volume in my life are comparison and affirmation.
I’ve written before on comparison. So today — affirmation. This is just embarrassing to share. But I deeply value sharing how spirituality really works for me, so we can all grow together.
As a recovering perfectionist, I have a deep desire to be good. When I sit back and watch myself, I see my quiet and relentless drive to be good. To have others tell me I’m good. And it’s not necessarily good at doing something. It’s that as a human being, I am good.
So it’s a win when I think to ask myself a new question that shakes me out of an unhelpful habit.
Who gets to tell me I’m good?
Because when I chase certain people’s affirmation that I’m good, it’s never ever enough. I find myself chasing it again in big and small ways.
My husband, my parents, my colleagues, my supervisors, my leaders, my staff, my church friends, community leaders, friends, even my kids sometimes.
It’s silly and embarrassing to admit. But it steals parts of my life. And I only get this one holy and precious life. I refuse to waste it chasing comparison and affirmation.
Whenever I get quiet with this question, who gets to tell me I’m good, my heart almost immediately feels light and free. The One who made me gets to tell me I’m good. And I already am. God saw all that was made and it was very good.
So as I enter a deep sabbath rest for a month, I’d like to fast from comparison and affirmation. As my coach reminds me, the most power-interrupting thing I could do is rest, wonder and celebrate.
She asked, “If you could be free of comparison and affirmation, what would you do?” I would do stuff just to do stuff! Out of pure joy.
That sounds like freedom.