What happens when we drop perfectionism and admit our mistakes? I discovered something profound…
My coach, Claire Higgins, invited me to, once again, step into courageously accepting and expressing myself. This time I realised I had been obsessed with perfectionism and I was pretending to others that I found life ‘easy’.
This session gave me the invitation:
Can I own and accept my mistakes, publicly, as a way of helping myself and others, accept our imperfections?
I like to proceed with a plan, based on purpose and pleasure. The purpose was clear — self acceptance, but the pleasure? Well I found it liberating to admit I get things wrong and also I worry, I make mistakes, get irritated and it’s not always easy to re-correct and forgive myself, returning to a balanced ‘mindful’ state. So the pleasure was — smiling and saying “today I have cocked up X and that’s OK!”
I would begin as I taught the evening’s meditation class. I shared three things I cocked up today (and that’s OK) and then one thing I was worrying about. I invited everyone else to do the same. At the end everyone could feel their shoulders relax and the atmosphere was completely different. We meditated in acceptance of our imperfections for the remaining 40 minutes.
‘I’ became M.E
And so my week progressed, but as it did and I continued to open up to clients, friends and myself a new realization occurred to me that had been staring me in the face. Whenever I say ‘I’ am worried, I also realised I was also not that worried, and I was also happy. How can it be? Why is this word ‘I’ indicative of my whole being as one thing? I thought about the way my housemate, Mareike, uses language from the ‘Focusing’ practice of meditation to talk about ‘something in me’ or ‘a part of me’. Inspired by this I realised I = M.E (Multiple Entities).
Parts of me
One of the main problems with identification is that it is overly simplistic. It is often Binary. I am either this OR that. Well, let’s shift that now. Let’s honour the multitude of parts. In the same way your body is made up of multiple parts; two hands, 10 fingers etc, so is your mind. Some body parts are ‘in recovery’ like when you have damaged a finger. Instead of calling it a ‘bad’ finger, let’s re-label it as a ‘recovering’ finger. So it is with your mind, which is comprised of many painful memories, happy memories, concerns, loves, dislikes, curiosities and urges. A multitude of living entities, inside you and M.E!
I can be — an exercise.
So I began to experiment. I began thus and you can try this at home. This first exercise is to help you realise all the parts. Simply say, throughout your day ‘I can be…’ instead of I am. This will get you started. Bonus points for when you notice outward projected blame or opinions of others. For example “They are so stupid. I can be so stupid sometimes!
A part of me
Once you’ve practiced that for several times I’d like you to switch from saying ‘I’ and instead start saying ‘A part of me’ or ‘something in me’. For example; a part of me feels annoyed. A part of me thinks they are so stupid. A part of me can be so stupid. Something in me is confused.
Noticing many parts, including the healthy
We are often drawn to noticing problems, like the part of the body that is in pain. We often get drawn into labelling them with a negative thought, like ‘bad’. For the third part of the exercise start to continue to notice other parts, after noticing the problematic parts. For example: A part of me is annoyed and another part of me is amused. Another part of me is enjoying this exercise. A part of me is wondering how this can be helpful.
Why are we doing this?
‘I’ (many parts of me) have found this incredibly useful in releasing the singular identification and therefore the singular comparison and holding onto a particular identity. This in turn allows more freedom of choice and more self-acceptance, which feels empowering and loving. It also grows my empathy. The more I realise both how imperfect and how wonderfully diverse I am the more I see that in others.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to catch yourself labelling yourself or others as a single story. Can you notice that, take a moment, check if it’s OK to start appreciating how ‘parts of me’ can be and then how we are only seeing a small part of them.
Fancy giving this a go? Go for it, but remember — find pleasure in it as you experiment. Let me know how you get on!
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com