Book Therapy

If y’all haven’t yet heard of Brene Brown, you’ve had your head in the sand.  If you’ve heard about her, but haven’t yet read any of her books, you’re missing out.  If you don’t think you have time to read, I’m sad about that for you, but at least watch this Ted Talk that’s worth every moment of the 20 minute watch time.

I say this as a recent convert and half-hypocrite  because I am only mostly through my first book of hers, but holy guacamole, this woman speaks truth and she speaks to my soul.  Seriously, stop everything and go to amazon and order at least one of her books.  I’m all about library rentals, but you will need to hilight, write, and wipe tears off her books, they are not loaner kinds of books.

This is, no doubt, the first of many Brene Brown inspired posts – if it gets too wild I’ll either add a Brene category to my menu, or label myself a stalker. This brilliant woman, (whose a social worker might I add) has researched shame and vulnerability, and has made a career of helping people embrace courage.  What an amazing calling!

Her stuff is deep.  Every time I open my book it’s like cozying up in my therapists’ leather chair – I want to be there, I want to go there, but I’m terrified to go there, because there will unlock some stuff that needs out that I’m not sure I’m ready to let out.  You know what I mean?  But when I do expose what needs exposed it’s a good bad feeling that’s good enough to keep going back.  And so I keep reading.

This week, I was reading in Daring Greatly about vulnerability armory, which are the ways that we have found to protect ourselves from being hurt, or from being vulnerable.  Sadly, I use nearly all if not all of the weapons in the armory she talks about in her chapters (if I’m not explaining this well enough, don’t worry, you’ll understand when you read her books – have you ordered them yet?)

She writes that one of the greatest weapons many of us use to fend off vulnerability is perfectionism.

Dang.  I know I do.

I mean, I really struggle with perfectionism.  This week was proof if I ever needed it.

This week, I am doing a several day training for principals and teachers.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to teach teachers, but they are a tough crowd.  They are good at teaching, and they have every right to be suspicious of and critical of those of us who don’t do this daily.  I’ve been preparing for this training all year, and subsequently, I have had too much time to build up my own expectations and fears about the success of this training.

What if they don’t connect with me?

What if they don’t listen to me?

What if my presentation isn’t good enough?

What if my presentation isn’t perfect?

Truthfully, I’ve had an elevated heart rate for a week, I’ve been dreading this week, and I’ve been a total meanie to those closest to me.  When I don’t feel like I’m going to do well enough, or be good enough, I am super tense, super on edge, and super sensitive.

I let my fear of how I will come off to perfect strangers affect my relationships with my closest people.

So, yeah, I struggle with this.

But the good news for me this week is that in the midst of disappointment that I let my struggles with this perfectionism gremlin win, I am struggling through perfectionism, not just with perfectionism.  The fact that I realized what caused my anger only 3 minutes after snapping completely irrationality at my husbands question about the weather is proof of struggling through.  The fact that I quickly disclosed to him and a dear friend that I was feeling anxious, powerless, and fearful and needed support is a total indicator that I am struggling through.  So this week, I am experiencing glimmers of hope that there is a brave woman underneath this shield of perfection.

This week, I’m continuing on this journey of letting go of my desire to please and desire for approval.  “If we want freedom from perfectionism, we have to make the long journey from “What will people think” to “I am enough.”

Any other perfectionists out there?  

How have you embraced that you are enough?

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7 thoughts on “Book Therapy

  1. Oooh, so glad it’s not just me getting messed up by her! I had to return the library rental and order it cause I was afraid they’d charge me for it after attempting to write notes on the side of the pages.

  2. PS, my Associate Dean has done several presentations on her work here at Belmont. The next one I’ll make sure you get the invite.

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