Oh perfectionism. I know thee well. You are the character trait that says, “I don’t want to make any mistakes at all. Ever. I want to do things right the first time, all the time.” You are the character trait I displayed the most while in school because you were frequently rewarded. Every time I did something “perfectly” I got an A, which got me attention, love, respect, validation. I got pats on the head and encouragement every time I trotted you out. I’ve attributed the successes of my life to you, thinking you were the reason, you were my motivator. And even though I graduated years ago I’ve carried you with me ever since.
During a conversation with a friend this week I kept hearing the refrain, “Why aren’t you more like her? She is better than you are. Change yourself. Why aren’t you more like her? She is better than you are. . .” It was on a loop in my head.
This post is an extension of last week’s topic on shame. Last week I realized shame is not seeing myself the way Source sees me. Not viewing myself through the eyes of unconditional love. I also realized guilt is judging myself for doing or not doing something I think I “should.” I started thinking about why guilt and shame come up for me in the first place because if they didn’t serve a purpose, they wouldn’t keep appearing. Then it hit me: I’ve been thinking guilt and shame are my motivators. If I feel badly enough about something then I’ll stop (or start) whatever it is. If I feel badly enough about eating 10 cookies then I’ll stop. If I feel badly enough about my mom making dinner every night I’ll start cooking instead.
Does anyone else think of that kid’s song when they hear, “Shame, shame, shame?” Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, right. Shame. It’s my issue du jour this week. There’s a whole lot of, “Oh my god I can’t believe I did that,” and “What would people think if they found out?!?”