Sorry to disappoint, but this blog post isn’t a recipe for an authentic version of a Chinese dish.
I’m talking about being authentic.
I was recommended Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Bossman thinks I’m a perfectionist; I think I’m just detail-oriented. Is there a difference? I just finished it and even though I can relate to her stories, I don’t know how to do the things she’s suggesting:
- Authenticity. Let go of What People Think
- Self-Compassion. Let go of Perfectionism
- Resilient Spirit. Let go of Numbing and Powerlessness.
- Gratitude and Joy. Let go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark.
- Intuition and Trusting Faith. Let go of the Need for Certainty.
- Creativity. Let go of Comparison.
- Play and Rest. Let go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth.
- Calm and Stillness. Let go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle.
- Meaningful Work. Let go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
- Laughter, Song, and Dance. Let go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”
I don’t know how to let go of any of those things. I don’t think I’m a perfectionist, but if I “let go” of it even more, am I just going to end up being mediocre at everything I do? That doesn’t sound like the person I want to be.
These topics all sound like words that I can relate to, especially when I was working (read: “Anxiety as a Lifestyle”), but not really now that I’m at home with the kids.
I feel like I know who I am. I’m a mom, a wife, a decent cook, a runner, an information sharer, productivity seeker, a doer. And yes, I do think about what people think of me, I like certainty, I do compare, I do get anxious… sometimes. It’s more than my husband does any of those things but I don’t think to the point it’s a problem… most of the time. But it does cause problems between us at times. Or does this just sound like the drug addict saying he doesn’t have a problem?
Update May 28, 2014
I reread a blog post Dr. Brown wrote on Huffington Post that makes more sense about perfectionism:
3. Perfectionism Is Not About Striving For Excellence For some of us (including me), what I’m about to say is horrifying: Perfectionism is not about achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.
Most perfectionists (also including me) grew up being praised for achievement and performance in our grades, manners and appearance. Somewhere along the way, we adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. A ticker tape began to stream through our heads: Please. Perform. Perfect.
Healthy striving, meanwhile, focuses on you. It occurs when you ask yourself, “How can I improve?” Perfectionism keeps the focus on others. It occurs when you ask, “What will they think?” Research, unfortunately, shows that perfectionism hampers success and often leads to depression, anxiety, addiction and missed opportunities, due to fears of putting anything out in the world that could be imperfect or disappoint others.
The more I think of it it’s obvious to me that perfectionism isn’t something you have/don’t have, but more of a spectrum. I will be the first to admit I have perfectionist tendencies especially when I am working with new groups of people or something I’ve never done before, because I want to make a good first impression. Bossman helps me temper these tendencies by focusing on the larger goal, but it’s a struggle for sure.
I’m going to continue to focus on being authentic and showing people who I am, and hope that this overpowers the fear of disappointing others.
How do you show others your authentic self?
More on Brene Brown
Apparently people like Oprah and 15 million other people who’ve watched her TED talk love her!