I noticed how fear of making a mistake often stops us from showing up. Here's one idea that can help us move past it.
We may want to share our thoughts in an article, our poetry on social media, voice our opinion at work, or start a creative project.
But instead of taking the steps, we sit there confused about what to do and how to start, unsure whether it even matters that we do.
We seem to have a bunch of good reasons for not taking action, since we “don’t know what exactly to do” or “where to start”. And there’s always more research to be done, and more inner work too, which of course are important, but they can also be very effective avoidance tools.
In truth, what’s stopping us is fear. Fear of being out there, 'in the arena' as Brené Brown so well puts it, appearing less than perfect.
But why are so many of us so obsessed with perfection?
Because it gives us an illusion of safety. If only we could do that thing [write a blog/ speak up at work/ fill in the blanks...] in a way that would earn us approval and recognition across the board, then we would feel loved and accepted and safe.
But what we’re forgetting is one person’s acceptance that is most important - our own.
Perfection is a trap we - especially women - fall so readily into. When perfection is our standard, nothing is ever good enough to meet the world.
And so we keep it in, and we sabotage our dreams, our success, and our personal truth.
But there is no such thing as perfection - there’s ALWAYS a better way of doing anything. And value judgements are always subjective and they differ, so there’s no one perfect version of anything. That’s simply the truth.
What I suggest as a way to avoid this trap is self-acceptance. We crave it from the world around us, but so often fail to give it to ourselves, fully and unconditionally.
What do we fear would happen if we just accepted ourselves, the way we are, fully?
That we would not be enough?
That we would stop growing and developing?
That we would give up our ambition, and “settle for less”?
I remember feeling that way when I thought about acceptance many years ago. It seemed like giving up. Condoning my shortcomings.
But when I actually tried it, when I had no better choice (and life will bring us to such points, as it does) and I practised self-acceptance, my life started to flourish in a different way. I was much happier with myself, and carried that over into my relationships, work, and everything else. The tension was gone, and I actually felt more empowered to grow and develop and improve my life.
That’s why I so firmly believe in the power of self-acceptance now.
It feels like dropping a heavy burden off your shoulders. Burden of perfectionism, self-criticism, self-sabotage and pushing yourself into a mould that doesn’t fit you.
I've seen it work its magic in my clients too.
Self-acceptance frees up enormous stores of energy which we always have within us, but can so effectively block. Once those blocks are cleared, we can use the energy to do the work that we’ve been meaning to do.
So I encourage you to give unconditional self-acceptance a try.
It will make it easier to let go of that fear of making a mistake and just take action. Everyone that ever achieved anything made mistakes along the way, it's how we learn.
Recognise the confusion and “I’m not ready yet” as coming from fear, a skillful self-protection mechanism, but with damaging effects. Take a small step forward despite it.
Acknowledge to yourself that you are enough already, you are unique, and you're so much more than you give yourself credit for. You always have all the resources that you need within you.
Sure, you’ll need to put in some effort to grow and develop. But first, stop rejecting (any part of) yourself, turn away from the spell of perfectionism, and instead become your own best friend.
It will create a ripple effect on so many levels of your life.
To overcome perfectionism, develop self-acceptance and courage to show up, a few sessions of voice dialogue may be particularly helpful. They can help you embody your awesome, and acknowledge + gently separate from the sabotaging inner voices.