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’.
Can I own and accept my mistakes, publicly, as a way of helping myself and others, accept our imperfections? What other gifts will that bring?
I like to proceed with a plan, based on purpose and pleasure.
The purpose was clear — self acceptance, but the pleasure?
l 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. It was wonderful.
‘I’ became M.E
A realisation occured during the week. I keep saying the words "'I' am..." or "'I' feel..." but the 'I' doesn't reflect all of me. I can often be simeltaneously happy, sad, worried and calm! So why is this word ‘I’ indicative of my whole being as one thing?
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). Is it possible to change my language and therefore my identity?
Changing "I feel...." to "A part of me feels..." changes how I see myself and opens up a wider possibility.
Parts of me
Identification 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 me!
Develop the language in three steps
So I began to experiment. I began thus and you can try this at home.
1. Say ‘I can be…’ instead of I am, throughout your day. This will get you started. Bonus points for when you notice outward projected blame or opinions of others. For example if I say or think “They are so stupid."... I can add..."I can be so stupid sometimes!"
2. Say 'A part of me is..." and develop more layers.
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."
3. Declare the healthy, happy parts too!
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?
‘This is about 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.
Love yourself - all parts
Fancy giving this a go? Go for it, but remember — find pleasure in it as you experiment. Let me know how you get on!
This is also a part of a therapy I am researching called IFS (Internal Family Systems) and it can help us rebuild trust in ourselves. Interested? Contact me!
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com