Another true story…I once didn’t go to school in the fifth grade because I was having a bad hair day. My brothers still tease me about this.
I don’t remember much from my childhood but have a vivid memory of waking up that day with a blob of hair sticking up on one side I couldn’t tame even with water. With tears, I somehow convinced my parents that it was all so devastating I couldn’t possibly be seen this way.
Growing up I was the A-student, Sunday school teacher, cheerleader and “pretty girl.” And I did everything I could to keep up the image: pulling all nighters through high school, packing my schedule with community service and academic enrichment, making myself dangerously skinny with a zero fat diet.
Back then, all the praise that came with the image felt somehow worth it.
The pursuit of perfection worked for me through college and a short career in television news. When it came to my deepest work of telling my story, I couldn’t pull it off anymore. Despite my best defenses, the work required me to pull off the mask, get sloppy and, over 5 years of filming, 37 drafts of an essay and now on draft #3 of a memoir, stop holding my real self back.
This is still ongoing work for me. Here are some tactics I have and continue to fall back on to keep showing up for my work and get it out there:
1) Name it: We all have many voices in our head. The one belonging to our truest selves is forever patient, compassionate and accepting of ourselves as we are. The voice of our perfection-driven inner critic, on the other hand, has a particular tone that is harsh and shaming. It may sound like “this sucks,” “people will laugh at you,” “ you have nothing original to say,” “you’re going to offend someone.” When we can separate out this voice and identify it as the critic it loses power.
2) Recognize what is behind it: The inner critic is a voice born out of our childhood hurts. At its heart, its motivation is to keep us from harm we may have experienced in the past. Knowing this, we can be compassionate towards this inner oppressor, acknowledge its intentions and move on.
3) Create “Shitty” First Drafts: The writer Anne Lamott has inspired a writing movement behind the concept of the “shitty first draft.” The idea is just to get whatever you’re working on down on paper no matter how bad it is. It’s these words on the page that get us to where the best writing happens: in revision.
4) The “Five Second Rule”: In her book, The 5 second rule, Author Mel Robbins, outlines while this simple rule can help us move through perfectionism, procrastination, self-doubt and our brain’s natural tendency to protect us from risk. When it comes to having the conversation, sending the email, hitting ‘post’ on that imperfect thing you wrote simply give yourself 5 seconds 5,4,3,2,1 and GO. It works!
We’ll be discussing some of this and many other creative breakthrough optimizing strategies THIS SATURDAY at ONE BOLD THING 2018: an online workshop to support you in getting your creative project done this year. These two online hours will be full of clarifying exercises, inspiration and some hard-earned learnings I really can’t wait to share to help you get clear and take action. You can learn more HERE.