- My friends were perfect – As the saying goes we choose our friends, not our family. So the pressure is really on here to get it right. Trust me imperfection among your friends is a hell of lot more fun and enriching. I love mixing my groups of friends the more conventional gals with the avant-garde. It’s great to see the affect they have on each other. If I want someone who thinks and acts just like me I’ll go in the bathroom and talk to the mirror.
- My kids were perfect – Ugh!!! Kids need to be able to fail, yes I said it, they do. We need to teach our kids to do the best they can, period. Sometimes there will be trophies and sometimes there will be disappointment but the goal is to learn discipline. Most wildly successful people are like the legendary Phoenix climbing out of the ashes of their failures to start again. In our house laughing at your imperfections is not only encouraged, its mandatory!
- My body was perfect – Your body is a mass of tissue, fat, bones and muscles, its function is to protect your vital organs. Feed it well and if you are blessed and can, exercise it, to keep it HEALTHY. Your body is not a measure of your worthiness as a human being, your body is unique like your personality. We live in an amazingly diverse society our bodies should reflect that, not some airbrushed version spoon fed to us on the pages of a magazine.
- My partner was perfect – This myopic view is missing half the of the story, it’s more about the partnership than a partner. When my hubby is really falling short on the perfection meter, I engage in a practice I call “fact-finding.” You know, pointing out his imperfections to support my judgement to help him, of course. Sure enough when I am looking for warts they are everywhere! When I told my life coach my husband was not taking step to improve himself at all, after all this helpful feedback I’ve given. She asked me to try another approach, only comment on things my hubby did that I appreciated or liked, for one week. Anything I disliked or disapproved of I needed to let go. I was suspicious of this approach and my husband was totally confused, but I have to say it worked. I saw more of the things I like and appreciated because that is what I was looking for!
- My job was perfect – It would be great if we all had perfect jobs, our dream job, whatever that means! Some jobs just suck, if you’ve seen the TV show Dirty Jobs you know what I am talking about. In a book called Fish! they talk about four principles that can energize your work environment: 1) Choose your attitude. 2) Find ways to play. 3) Be present. 4) Make their day. Your job may not be perfect but take responsibility for your experience there, focus on what you have control over. Change your perspective and change your life!
I have learned that we develop defense mechanisms early in life as part of our survival instinct. These defense mechanisms evolve from very early experiences it could be from a traumatic incident like abuse or a significant loss, or just repetitive well-intentioned but ill-delivered messages from important people early in our lives. Why they exist is not quite as important as how we experience them now.
I have named my primary defense mechanisms (DMs); they are Martyr Bitch, here’s what she sounds like, “that figures yes I will just have to do it myself because no one else gives a damn, it’s always me I always have to do everything.” My other DM is Lazy Procrastinator here’s what she sounds like, “oh my gosh I have to do that and that and that and that well its just too much I can’t handle all of that, oh look at this over here you need to pay attention to this and that other stuff can wait.” My last DM is Chicken Shit Escape Artist, she comes out when times get tough and here’s what she sounds like, “just get the hell out of here this is a mess and it’s not your fault just cut bait and run, no need for confrontation just leave the situation while you can, it’s all too difficult to deal with.”
Martyr Bitch comes out most often and I hear her tapes in my head often. I have been working with an amazing ontological coach, Lynn Erlinger (http://successtrekcoaching.com), for a while, she has helped me to understand that while these DMs were very useful when I was growing up they don’t necessarily support what I am up to now. I have a lot of compassion for these DMs they obviously supported me at one point in my life and so it is with love and compassion that I recognize these old tapes when they start playing in my head and then bless them and send them on their way. Because they in many cases, no longer support my present life. This was not as easy as I am making it sound here it has been a long road to DM recovery. Last year while my dad and stepmom were dying and my aunt and uncle were having health problems it was so easy to listen the Martyr Bitch I mean really if there were ever a time I could have embraced her logic and snuggled up to martyrdom that would have been it. Thankfully, I had done a significant amount of work with Lynn and realized that DM would not serve me now.
I was able to really be fully present to my stepmom, my dad, my brother, my uncles and my aunts and the rest of my family and friends during this very emotional and difficult time. Because I was able to recognize the tapes when they started to play and from there remember to choose what my intent was, which was support, compassion and love. I discovered it is difficult to be fully present and support myself and others if I am only concerned about me, how it impacts me, how it feels to me, martyr, me, martyr, me, martyr, me.
Lazy procrastinator while it must have saved me at some point in my life from doing something rash and harmful, now if I listen to that old tape it can hinder me from doing things I really want to accomplish like running a marathon, starting a blog and writing a book. Again it’s all about being present when those tapes start to play and I recognize oh yes there you are, it’s ok I don’t need you right now I am up to something else right now.
Chicken shit escape artist (CSEA) really did serve me well in my youth during some very tumultuous times and I am very grateful. In fact, there are some very difficult episodes of my life that due to CSEA I have relatively few bad lingering memories. My brother and I will talk about our childhood and he will have vivid memories of bad things that happened to me that I really only have vague memories of, I believe, thanks to CSEA. I want to add here with all integrity and honesty, I would not change a single thing about my childhood, we had marvelous adventures, and it help mold me into the person I am today. CSEA tapes visit me when things heat up and confrontation is eminent, or life is difficult. So when CSEA tapes flood my thoughts I again am present enough now to recognize what is happening and choose from there.
I will confess there are times will all my DMs I still choose to listen to those old tapes, but now I am doing it with awareness, so I am living my life conscientiously and I also ask myself “what is your intent, is this consistent with your intent?” I see so many people struggling and I used to instantly wade in and try to “fix” things for them. I still have the urge, but now I realize how disempowering that is both for me and for the person suffering. If I wade in and “fix” things for them it is no different from giving a drug addict more of their drug, this is their opportunity for growth. There are many well-intentioned people keeping their close friends and family from living their full, beautiful, engaged lives under the guise of helping them. I know, because I did that very thing. Now I recognize the beauty and perfection of each person owning their own experience and being the master of their own journey. No two journey’s are created equal, your journey is your journey, embrace it, be present and empower your life and take action from there.
So what old tapes are you listening to? May I suggest to you simply be aware, notice the tapes, remind yourself what you are up to, is that tape supporting your journey or is it creating more chaos in your life? May I also suggest working with an ontological coach, you will focus on now, the present, how powerful is that, you can’t change the past even yesterday is gone, today is what we have, make the most of it. Working with Lynn has changed my awareness, I can now say if you meet me on the street you will meet the authentic Marsia, the real me, not a reflection of who I think I should be or doing what I think others feel I should be doing, I am me, perfect, just as you are. My own experience is the more comfortable I became with who I am, the more comfortable I have become with everyone else as they are. So please come out, come out wherever you are!!!!
“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship. Everyday life has become my prayer.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach