First off, I don’t really like coffee. I hate failure even more. Perfectionism, though, I’ve embraced like a warm blanket for most of my life. Brene Brown though calls perfectionism the 20 ton armor against vulnerability. Perfectionism has either led to or contributed to codependent behavior in my past marriages and stands in the way of me connecting with others.
A friend sent me an article a few nights ago about how people who suffer from anxiety often are creative geniuses. It was her way of saying that she and I were both creative geniuses. I’m grateful for her friendship as well as the fact that she thinks I’m a creative genius. (Or was she just telling me that she was a creative genius?)
In another conversation a few nights ago while I was discussing my totally failed attempt with the Whole 30 program, some one asked me “Don’t you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot.” I’m grateful she asked that question. On a morning run the next day, I gave those conversations some thought as I listened to “Paint it, Black” through “It’s My Life” on my lengthy running playlist.
In the last two years. I have accomplished a lot physically. So I feel like I have control of my physical health. I’ve always thought I was intellectually capable so I don’t really struggle with my intellectual health. When it comes to the emotional aspects of life however and my emotional health, I struggle. I have a lot of limiting beliefs. I always think I can do something better than how I just did it, so if I just worked or tried harder then the outcome the next time will be better. My perfectionism is definitely my enemy in these instances though and fear always seems to rear its ugly head.
My reluctance to write fiction, a thought which at times consumes me, is tied to my version of anxiety. It is that same anxiety which makes my mouth go dry and a lump form in my throat when I want to approach a woman I’m attracted to and want to strike up a conversation with her. It is my emotions which I don’t trust, which betray me when I need them to be calm. It is my fears that feed my anxiety.
Anytime I consider trying something that causes me anxiety, it is like a 100 shame gremlins are rummaging through my attic of inadequacies, stirring up memories of my many past failures.
- – Art class in 7th grade.
- – My first love in high school.
- – That one date in high school which occurred days before my date was hospitalized with mental illness. I was grateful she had said yes to the date after a dozen others had said no but at the same time I felt like I missed an opportunity to help someone.
- – My 14 years of marriage which produced 2 wonderful daughters but many years of painful memories and an intermittent torrent of “I hate you” and “I don’t know why I married you!”
- – My father who always played it safe and blamed all of our teenage shenanigans and failures on the fact that we actually left the house.
- – The professer in college who discarded my first failed attempts at writing with what I remember as contempt but was simply his way of saying, I wasn’t getting the concept of rising conflict.
I’ve been trying to embrace failure lately. My perfectionistic self, the result of my birth sign (Virgo), my childhood, my personality type (INFJ), and my codependency, feeds those shame gremlins, and has done it’s best to protect me from more hurt, from more pain, but also kept me from taking chances that could have left me more fulfilled and happy.
After almost 2 years of FXB and over a year of running I’ve learned that physical pain is temporary. If I can just trick my mind into thinking that emotional pain is as well, which logically I know it is, then maybe I can start to live a messy and imperfect life and begin doing the things that my heart desires.
I don’t really like coffee but I began drinking it recently and drinking it black. I found out it was okay on the Whole 30 plan. I kept telling myself, if I can embrace something I hate, maybe I will someday like it, and in doing so will also be able to embrace failure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a failure in life, but sometimes when your fear of failure keeps you from doing something that you potentially could love, then you by default set yourself up to fail at life. If Edison had been afraid of failure, we might not have light bulbs and what would we do after the sun goes down at 4:30 in the afternoon in Dubuque, IA with no light bulbs. Kickboxing by candlelight?
Like drinking coffee, I’m trying to do the same thing with failure, with being imperfect. I tried the Whole 30 challenge and failed. I almost like coffee now. Perhaps words will start flowing onto paper or the laptop soon as well. While I have accomplished a lot in the last two years, I still have dreams I want to achieve, things I want to accomplish. I have to start taking action, be prepared to stumble and fall, and embrace both failure and my imperfection along the way. My perfectionism, the desire to do everything right, and more importantly blaming everything that happens in my life on me is truly a suit of armor that I can’t afford to bear any longer. I don’t want to bear it. So it’s time I discarded it.
So, here’s to failure!
If you struggle with the fear of failure or perfectionism, how do you cope? What have you done to overcome limiting beliefs? Leave a comment and let me know.
P.S. The rough draft of this article was written on November 21st. I forgot it was sitting in draft mode.