I have started an online course with author and researcher Brené Brown, focused and created around her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I was SO excited to begin this course. Watching and listening to Brené Brown continues to challenge and inspire me. However, an interesting thing is happening; I am beginning to feel a great resistance to the journey.
I believe ‘wholeheartedly’ that practicing courage, compassion and connection is of the utmost importance both for myself and for others. Brené, a self-professed ‘data collector’ says that ‘the research’ shows that those who are able to live ‘wholeheartedly’ are those who ultimate move and operate from a place of ‘worthiness’. To be brutally honest, both to myself and my readers, the term ‘worthiness’ has the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. That reaction however, tells me: I should either take notice OR run swiftly in the other direction!
I’m not completely sure why this message of self compassion is landing on such rocky infertile ground. I have, for quite some time now, been growing in self acceptance. This year I have consciously made the choice to simplify; let go; allow myself to become ‘ordinary’. Slowly, inch by inch, I am peeling my white knuckled fingers from ‘’my precious’ list; a list of expectations, roles and accomplishments that I believed would make me ‘worthy’; worthy of acceptance, admonition, and ultimately, love.
So why such resistance? I believe a huge reason for my resistance started with a belief that I adopted and have operated from, since childhood: I am a sinner. I do not think it is THIS belief in particular that is preventing me from feeling worthy. Saying “I am a sinner” is really another way of saying, I am human; I make mistakes; I can be selfish, petty, hurtful, and not caring towards others. As much as I would like that not to be the truth, there is not one single person I have ever met who isn’t a victim of their own humanity. However there was a secondary message that I gleaned somewhere along the way. That message contained, as Brené would put it, a ‘shame storm’. Being ‘a sinner’ didn’t mean that I was ultimately God’s child who decided to make bad choices, it meant that I was innately bad; doomed to a life-time of bad choices and rejection of God. Take one great big thick brush and paint it all black. Believing and operating from this mindset means that I am constantly measuring myself, using God’s love, goodness and compassion as my measuring stick. When we compare ourselves with perfection we are left feeling limp, lifeless and bleak; not worthy of anything, let alone self-love and compassion.
Why am I writing about such a deep, seemingly dark, secret? Because I am beginning to see that this belief has led to much pain, inner self rage, and a deep desire to escape myself and my imperfections. I have discovered a longing that I have to be removed, not only from my sin, or the things that I do wrong, but my humanity. Ultimately, I am sharing because while reading Brené Brown’s material, I am realizing that I am not alone. There are so many of us that don’t feel worthy. So many of us who believe that they will only be able to find peace once they are perfect; once the world is perfect. Although that idea doesn’t bring a whole lot of reality into the equation, it doesn’t seem to stop us from believing that if we could just remove the ugliness, the flaws, the imperfections, the arguments, the judgements, the darkness, then we would feel better and more equipped to take on life.
The main problem with wishing, hoping, longing for perfection? It’s a fairytale. It doesn’t exist. And fairytales, though idealistic and beautiful, remove us from the real world and create a sense of longing for things that cannot be. Many years ago, when in treatment for my eating disorder, my counsellor at the time said something to me, very gently and with much compassion. She said: “Lalainia, there is no use WISHING that things were different, because they’re not.” At the time, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that statement. Was she telling me not to dream, not to hope, not to long? What I have come to understand that phrase to mean is this: if we spend too much time wishing, hoping, and longing for things to be different, then we won’t know where to start to actually change our lives right now.
So, for now, I am choosing to accept my resistance and aversion to the term ‘worthiness’ because that’s just how I feel right now. It is a term that I don’t really understand or can relate to in light of my history, some of my beliefs and continual frustration with imperfection. However, I am not without hope! I do believe that God made us, loves us and ultimately has a plan for our lives; somehow I know that my worthiness will be uncovered somewhere deep within that enormous love.
Becoming Ordinary: Day 156
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