Can I share something vulnerable with you today?
I’m a recovering perfectionist – not in the way that I demanded an unreachable (unsustainable) standard of myself, my work, relationships etc. Perfectionism weaved into my life in a slightly different way.
You see, I never really identified myself a perfectionist. I was truly OK with not being the best (much to my Asian parents’ dismay ;), good enough was (truly!) good enough for me. On some level, I deeply felt that I was flawed so demanding perfectionism of myself felt like a futile goal.
Perfectionism controlled my life and my work in this way: I felt crippled by the need to control things, people, and circumstances in my life and work in order to have a ‘perfect’ experience. I feared that if I didn’t have control over it all, I would never get to experience anything I wanted or what mattered to me.
I’d set a ‘perfect’ goal/vision with the most positive intentions, thinking this is the most aligned intention I could have at this time. I would even declare aloud that I was open to it or something even better.
But there was a tiny part of me that would simultaneously go “Sure/Uh huh, now that THAT part’s done let’s do everything we can to secure this intention.” I would switch into control mode. Within that, an underlying current of fear that if I didn’t do all that I could then somehow that would mean I would never reap any of my rewards. Can you relate, friend?
Here’s a diagram to illustrate that below:
My faith was built on watery sand, and my emotions fluctuated like the tides – frequently and greatly. And this current of fear only grew stronger as I attempted to exert more control over all areas of my life.
I was afraid that if I stopped controlling everything, it would all come undone.
Terrified that if I stopped controlling circumstances I would never have the experience I wanted.
Afraid that if I stopped controlling people and their behaviours they would *disappoint* me.
“If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.”
The above statement had such a strong grip over me!
Control is a funny concept. When we need to control something, we feel this need to constantly keep our time/energy/effort/awareness on it. We don’t allow ourselves to step away for long, before we start to feel this looming fear, worry, anxiety that it’s all coming undone without us being there to move it forward (or hold it in place). Soon, our goal feels like a drain – no longer joyful but taxing.
Now, long gone are the days of emotional blackmail others or manipulative tactics – but I also did get extremely anxious and upset when plans/people changed or when new (unforeseen) circumstances entered the picture. It was like my control side going “Drat! Now we need to regroup and rethink our whole Control Strategy!” And don’t get me started on my response when I couldn’t see how a new plan would work. (Exhausting.)
The Many Ways My Lack of Faith Showed Up…
I labeled my lack of faith many things, including declaring that I was inflexible, must do more work on my trust issues, as well as strengthen my resilience, adaptability, and so on. (And I did work to pull out those weeds, leading me to where I am today, discovering (and clearing) this bigger weed!)
My lack of faith showed up in many ways, such as…
- I didn’t have faith in people keeping their word so I constantly reminded them of our agreements while keeping a distance, afraid of getting disappointed if I got ‘too close’. This was counterproductive to my goal of cultivating fruitful friendships with others.
- I didn’t have faith that the Universe/God would deliver me my goals as long as I focused on making aligned progress (no matter how fast or slow progress I made) – so I demanded myself to put in those extra miles, extra hours, extra energy deposits, then rapidly swinging myself into discouragement and resentment when I couldn’t see evidence right away. This was counterproductive to my goal of running a sustainable business and being in integrity.
- I sucked so bad at PATIENCE and chose over and over again instant gratification over patience, because I didn’t really have faith that savouring slow growth would yield me much at all! This was counterproductive to my personal journey of being proud of who I am.
Last week, I shared my focus of cultivating faith with my man.
His face lit up like some incredible piece of wisdom had dawned on him, and he promptly said “This is what you do, like when you care for your plants and you kill them with too much love.”
A loud and clear voice inside me went: Jia Ni, how you do one thing is how you do many things…
It’s true. I hate to admit it but many a plant have gone to plant heaven because of root rot or needed repotting and recovery time because I had (again) overwatered them.
I realised I didn’t trust in my plants to grow on their own. So I kept hovering over them like a helicopter, ready to shower them with more water/nutrients/love!
I write this today because our lack of faith depletes us.
Growing goals without faith is like growing plants in infertile soil. It will likely still grow, because that is what a seed does (how magical is that?) – but it’s also an undesirable environment for said plant to thrive.
It might look a little malnourished, or have weak roots, or never produce flowers due to the unfavourable conditions. The same goes with our goals, we require fertile soil within us to grow our meaningful, intentional lives in.
When we have faith, our lives can thrive.
I’ve been growing a succulent garden since July, and it has taken me by surprise that even when I step away from my garden (or forget to water my propagation station) for a few days to a week, the garden continues to grow and thrive. That my plants are so wise and intelligent, that my letting go of the reigns doesn’t lead to a plant wasteland. On the contrary, it actually breeds surprises when I return! Like when I discover baby succulents at the bottom of the mama plant and squeal with delight! My plants have so much faith, imagine if they stopped growing because I was going away or refused to flower in case they used up next year’s nutrients… It made me wonder – why do us humans feel so challenged when it comes to having faith when everything works in such an easeful way in nature?
Let’s cultivate faith together, friends!
I invite you to consider some ways you can cultivate more faith in your life.
Share them with me below!
I’m experimenting with a few things this month and will be back with the next instalment and update on cultivating faith. Stay tuned!