“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”― C.G. Jung
After a year of intense personal development and world-class training as an ontological coach, I made it to the finish line in December only to realize two things:
- There really isn't a finish line (thank goodness).
- I'm—wait for it—human.
Regarding the first point: I was starting to feel like if I could just make it to December, I'd be able to relax. I'd graduate and then I could get back to enjoying some of the stuff I've put on the back burner. Of course, while I did in fact graduate (phew) and celebrate that achievement, I've realized again (re-realized?) that my development and journey as a person and as a coach are really ongoing. Waiting for Someday (not a day of the week, remember?) to begin enjoying things I've been neglecting is a bad practice.
What's really telling about this is not that I didn't pay attention while majoring in anthropology for my undergrad and understand that having clavicles and opposable thumbs relegated me to the ranks of homo sapiens like the rest of us, but rather that I hold myself to some ridiculously high standards.
Shockingly, so do my clients. "Well, that's fine for them," I hear, "but I know/can do/can be better."
It's an epidemic. The comedown from believing you are superhuman is painful. Symptoms include grief, disappointment, frustration and dangerously low levels of compassion.
I am a very compassionate person. I know this to be true. I have a loving, forgiving and accepting heart. At least, I do when it comes to anyone else but myself.
When I need a dose of self compassion, on the other hand, I hold out, punishing myself for all my transgressions (which, in case you haven't guessed, are the results of not being a superhero yet adhering to a strict superhero/superhuman regimen of requirements). It's not that I don't think I deserve it (though there's a vein of that crappy story running through it, for sure), it's more that when I'm in full-out Survival Mechanism mode (not super pleasant, really. In case you were wondering), self love, acceptance and forgiveness are not even on the radar. They don't exist.
[Tweet "In full-out Survival Mechanism mode, self love, acceptance and forgiveness are not even on the radar. They don't exist. Neither does success."]
So, what's the point of this? What does it have to do with resolutions, this month's theme? Well, let me paint you a picture (it might ring a bell—take a look for yourself):
- I set impossible expectations, or certainly very optimistic ones, without any of the structure or support necessary to create a positive outcome. I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
- I flail about, without much of a plan, until I'm totally overwhelmed by ALL OF THE THINGS OMIGOD.
- Then I have a breakdown. Here is where there is much sorrow, anger, self-hate and general Pit of Despair-iness. I'm sure as heck not deserving of anything that would make me feel better.
I'm not proud of it, but that's the cycle. It's fairly predictable and highly unpleasant (ask Adam). What you'll notice, if you're clever, is that it conveniently keeps me distracted by my own "awful uselessness" so that I only experience my failure, which I create as the only possible outcome. I'm also conveniently saved from having to actually do any of what I set out to do in the first place.
So, my superhuman tendencies cause me to take on too much, get so disappointed by my lack of super-heroic ability (on account of being a human, you see, without the ability to whip up some extra time and resources through magic and alchemy) and then just be a giant sad sack at how pathetic I am, because I couldn't achieve it.
And then I think I learn my lesson and set out to embrace my humanity and celebrate my wins, so you can imagine my surprise when I REPEAT THE WHOLE CYCLE ALL OVER AGAIN. AND AGAIN. Each time I think I've got the formula sorted out, but the trick is that I am not accepting my humanity with grace, love, compassion and forgiveness. And it's really costing me. Letting me off the hook. Letting my Survival Mechanisms keep me
rooted paralyzed in fear. It's a set up. You can't move when the stakes are so high. It's just Fear's way of keeping me (and you) in check/chains.
I've spent a lot of time thinking I was extra special. More than just normal. Certainly more than merely human. It turns out, I am just human after all. Thank goodness. Now I can actually go forth and achieve something, and celebrate all the achievements I've already accomplished. There's a lot to love about me, after all.
What do you see for yourself? Where is your lack of ability to be human costing you? What if you could give yourself the love and acceptance you so generously bestow on those flawed beings all around you?
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