How often have you felt like you’re stuck? Not moving forward? Or thought you’ve failed to obtain what you were aiming for in the time you predicted? Have you felt alone and longing for purpose and connection?
We can get lost in certain moments of our life, in stories that define how we see ourselves and how we should be in our life. These stories can then own us. We may try to escape them and prove them wrong. We may set expectations and focus on our goals so much that we can miss out on how far we’ve come, the power of our stories and what we’ve gained or lost along the way.
Part of this is due to focusing on only certain parts of our story, and disowning others. We do not want to experience the discomfort, the difficulties and the failures along the way. Yet they are part of the journey.
We hear everyone’s finished success story and compare it with our in-process struggle. We can easily judge ourselves as lacking. Because we don’t hear about others difficulties, vulnerabilities or failures, we have a narrow definition of what life should look like. Sometime we set up perfectionistic ideals to strive for and give us a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Harmful perfectionism involves setting unrealistically high expectations of what we should/can achieve, in what period of time and with what level of effort. This can hurt us and derail us from connecting with our values and the people and activities that mean a lot to us. (See more about it in the Perfectionist Trap) Yet, it is not the striving for excellence that hurts us. If we keep in mind that what we are trying … will be difficult and involve discomfort, mistakes and restarts, we can shift away from unrealistic perfectionism. Allowing space for our difficulties can free us to continue to learn, grow and excel. We can do this by not getting lost in the details, changing our perspective, and not focusing on just the hurtful parts of our story.
Owning our larger stories can help us grow and start new chapters. Can you tailor your expectations around time, effort and performance while holding clear the value you are working towards? Knowing that growing and building our lives is part of a lengthy journey can increase our patience with the bumps along that path. (More information in video) Doing so can help us be more kind and loving to those imperfect aspects of our stories, to integrate them into our larger story. Our story – that we continue to develop.
How aware are you of your stories? Can you see what are you focusing on, defining yourself by? Seeing and changing the direction of our stories takes courage. As Brene Brown asks: “Can you name one act of courage that did not involve uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure?” No. We cannot avoid the uncertainty, control the emotional exposure, nor eliminate risk. These were and are all part of life and our individual stories.
“We can own our story or it owns us. … To own your story and love yourself in the process – that is the definition of greatness to me (Brene Brown).” In this months women’s group we will look at changing our perspective on our stories.
Interested in hearing more? A longer interview with Brene Brown by Lewis Howes from The Education of Greatness.