Beginning to Feel Again
Welcome to my corner of the internet. Together, we unpack how fear of failure and perfection paralysis has stopped us from showing up. I hope you like oversharing and witty jokes, because that’s about all I have to offer.
However, I’ve decided that’s enough to be worthwhile, so on we go.
Who Even Are You?
Excellent question. And to be honest, I'm still figuring that out. This is a project I’ve been rolling around in my mind for years (since lunch), so I’m excited to be here with you today. Come, step into my office. My name is Theresa. I’m 33, I live in Central Florida with my husband, two elementary-aged girls, a mini dachshund and a black cat. All of this sounds very uninteresting when you line it all up in black and white. But, let’s throw in some childhood trauma, a bunch of religious trauma, grief, shame, plus all my favorite harmful coping mechanisms. Next, let it age for years, then dump in some mental breakdowns and fear that I might actually be losing my mind. Then, we can slowly sprinkle in the recovery required to feel normal again. Wait, should this be a recipe blog? I’m already starting with my life story instead of getting right to the recipe! Isn’t that how it works? Just kidding. Don’t come for me. I love a free recipe.
Meet My Friends
You may already know Decision Fatigue, but have you met their cousin, Perfection Paralysis? We're actually good friends. It's when your fear of failure is too great, you can’t make the first move. See, I talk myself out of things before I even start. Now, hear me out. I'm a fairly positive person. I'm not even nearly as self-deprecating as I used to be! But still, it's like I subconsciously worry that I'm going to f*ck it up. So in an effort to avoid those feelings of disappointment, I avoid the thing all together. I convince myself that I’m not good at it, even if I’ve never tried. Sometimes, it’s big things like going back to school. More often, it’s the small things like painting a picture or trying a new exercise. My brain thinks through the process of the first few steps, decides the potential for failure is too high, and gives up. And even though for years I was convinced I was alone, I know now I'm not the only one.
Here's the thing. Within this Perfection Paralysis, if you will, lies two deeper problems. Isn't self-discovery fun? Sometimes it's like digging in a sandbox hoping to find a treasure and finding cat shit instead. Hooray me! First, my "potential for failure" meter is broken. Sometimes, our failure meter is helpful. Of course, it’s helpful for things like, “don’t jump across that gap because you won’t make it and you’ll fall and die.” But why do we sometimes have that same “better not, don’t want to f*ck it up” response about trying to make a new cocktail? Second, why is failure a bad thing? So what if you look stupid trying something new? Why does that mean you shouldn’t try? (I say “you,” of course, as an attempt to lump you into my club and create a sense of belonging. But if you haven’t realized by now, I’ll let you in on a secret. When someone speaks, they’re almost always talking about themselves. You’re allowed to receive the things that apply to you and leave the rest right there.)
So What Are We Doing Here?
We're practicing. Practice makes progress. And perfectly average progress, not perfection, is what we're after. If I'm being honest, I'm simply trying to convince myself to believe what I’m saying. Isn’t that often the case? I don’t know when we move from "fake it ‘til you make it," to full on "believing it," but it ain’t today. So until that day, keep your head up. And say it loud from your chest. So, there's not much else to say right now. Because this is the point of my presence here. We just have to unpack it together as we go.
This is the part where I second-guess the things I've shared and embrace all the feelings. Embrace the fear of looking stupid, feeling small and insignificant and not at all like a story worth sharing. Whew. I learned somewhere that feelings can be like sailboats on a river. We are simply on the riverbank, watching them float by. There's no use trying to stop them! What business do you, river-bank sitter, have in trying to stop a whole-ass boat from floating by? Absolutely not. Just take out your picnic blanket and watch them go. Observe them, allow them to pass. And pass, they will. Some may get stuck, but keep breathing. Breathe deep, long breaths straight out into their sails. Keep breathing. Keep watching. They can't hurt you, unless you try to leap on board and control them. And you're not alone.
I'm with you here on the riverbed.
Now... did you bring any snacks?