I stumbled upon the following line:
Where's the contract we signed when we came into this world, where it said: "you're perfect."
And it reeled me in.
Yes, where DID we ever decide that we needed to be perfect. And WHEN?
Take me for instance.
I always judged myself for certain things I couldn't do, certain ways I couldn't be, certain times I couldn't perform.
I set my own (high) standard.
But when did I? And who or what was the standard that I set mine to?
I don't know (for sure). And this bothered me.
I am my own worse critic. I am!
Take this for instance:
For some reason I keep swirling past this (alternate?) universe where I am perfectly healthy, happy and always worth it. But I never really arrive. Why is that? What causes this?
This spiral that hurled me down.
I feel good
I've got loads of energy
An energy leak appears
I want to take a step back
I'm doing 60 miles an hour
Life decides to pass me with 70
I step on the gas
And no matter what I do
Other cars pass me
In a hurry
Laughing at my attempt.
Ever felt that way?
I listened to a talk by Pema Chödrön, a teacher, a Buddhist, who said something along the line:
Do you know these people on the highway, going faster and faster, only focussed on their destination? Obliviant to their surroundings? Maybe we should drive less fast, so we can really be in the moment and enjoy the view.
I remember this talk from time to time, when I'm in my car on my way to work. Mostly, I drive steadily - not too slow, not too fast. But sometimes my fellow-drivers irritate the hell out of me. They're on the fast lane, and ooze "hell, you can't keep up with me with your silly Ford Ka". They suck me in. I don't take notice of my surroundings anymore, no - I just want to win this silly game. Until I realize that even when I outrun them, it won't give me satisfaction. It's just a waste. I wasted moments where I could inhale the beauty of the sun, birds and overcast sky because of egoistic cat-and-mouse games.
Basically, I lost track of myself.
So, I wondered, is this the reason why I keep swirling through that same old same old?
I loose track?
How can you prevent from getting sucked into anything?
This is tricky.
But maybe the answer is self-compassion.
Instead of being hard on yourself:
"Didn't you learn anything!!?"
"Isn't this frustrating?"
"Fuck, damn, looooser!"
You'd be compassionate. Like you'd be to a good friend:
"This can happen to anyone. Any-one!"
"Don't beat yourself up about it. You're only human."
"Let it go. You know what happens when you don't let go? You're still in that frustrating moment. Reliving it over and over. What good would that do?"
Right. So, self-compassion.
Yes. I learn something new every time, even when the movie of my life seems a rerun, I notice different things. It may not provide me with a solution, but is it supposed to?
Yes. The questions keep swimming in my mind. But maybe these questions keep me alive, in awe of the magnificence of it all. I don't get all the answers. And that's okay.
Yes. I'm still here - maybe experiencing similar emotions, but the outcome can differ. I am not the same person I was last time around. I have read beautiful books, listened to marvelous lectures, met wonderful people, and possibly most precious of all - I probably wouldn't have experienced this without this issue I keep addressing. Over and over again.
"So, hey - it's fine. You're fine. Maybe not perfect. So what? I'm not either.
I'm your best friend, and I tell you: you're a beautiful human being. Gimme a hug."
It has been frustrating to discover that after all these years I haven't found that manual, providing me with rules and regulations to become that healthy and happy human being. But hey - I now acknowledge: I don't want to be a perfectionist anymore. It doesn't keep me healthy, it doesn't make me happy.
And you know what? I am sure that I lack some required elements and/or qualities to be perfect.
I have been labeling myself as a perfectionist for as long as I can remember. But you know what the Oxford Dictionary definition is?
"A person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection."
Yak. This sounds like an awful person.
Is this who I am? And what "standard" did I set for myself? Not accepting that anything or anyone, especially myself, sits back to smell the roses? No: perform, perform, perform, and be flawless. Again, yak!
No wonder I got sick. No wonder I have aching muscles. No wonder I get sucked in.
I'm sure that perfectionism has a function: it makes us wanna learn, thrive, be better.
But do we have to be the best scolar of life?
You know what I wanna be? A (com)passionate human being.
With a passion for the living. Or something like that.
For now, let's not only continue to have compassion for others, recognize and acknowledge their suffering by our love and understanding. Let's do the same for ourselves.
You don't have to understand the suffering of others to show compassion, to offer a shoulder to cry on, to lend an ear. So, why do we expect this of our own suffering? Sometimes we go through things we don't understand.
"Why am I down?"
"The sun is shining, and all I wanna do is stay in. Black out the sun."
When your heart cries out "this isn't how it's supposed to be", or you feel a lump in your throat for no reason at all. Like - heck - where did that come from?
Let it be. Maybe - for now - we're supposed to be that shoulder. To ourselves.
Or as Dr. Kristin Neff says in her clip on her website www.self-compassion.org:
"You're always there, 24/7, to give help when you need it the most."
And remember: you are supposed to travel the road that you're on. Hold on.
And be you're own best friend.