The Navajos wove a flaw into every basket.
Only the Gods are perfect.
I begin every class by announcing, “Don’t put me on a pedestal. I will fall off and we will both get hurt.”
It never occurred to me to announce this to clients as well (further evidence that only the Gods are perfect!) until I watched a client go into angry melt-down when she discovered my essential humanity.
Our shared humanity is the essence of the healing relationship. The place where we are stronger together, where shift can happen, comes from exponentially magnifying our human-ness.
I know, I know: it’s easy to define humanity by our flaws and sins, by the reports on the nightly news and the lowest common denominator of our behavior.
But part of the joy of being human is being the skin-suit for a spark of the divine, for creative energy. When we harness the creatrix within, change happens; we begin to choose our emotional and mental lives, creating our perception consciously.
When I am working with a client, we connect with each other from this place of human essence… not because I am a stand-in for an absent mother, an abusive father, or an omnipresent God.
The “pedestal people,” those who hoist me up and expect me to live up to their expectations, are often stuck in a need for perfect. Their perfectionism creates both self- and outward criticism, topped off with a dash of righteousness.
It does to me — I’ve been there.
Here’s what I know helps:
Perfectionism often goes hand-in-hand with over-thinking, stress, rigidity, or “lack mentality.” The best medicine: train your brain. Negative thoughts release a hormone cascade that encourages more negative thoughts. Catch yourself and redirect your brain.
When I hear a negative thought zipping through my frontal lobe, I consciously say to myself Do you really want to think that? And then redirect the thought along a more positive route.
Until you get used to this, chasing your brain around all day can be exhausting, so reach for some herbal support:
If your mind is on a gerbil-wheel, try Passionflower tea.
If you have what I call “Bully Brain” (i.e., your very fearful amygdala is running the show), try Milky Oat tincture and Rose tea.
If your thoughts scatter six ways to Sunday and your perfectionism is an attempt to keep control (especially if you are ever tempted to try some kid’s Ritalin), try a bit of Gotu Kola tincture (and let me know how it works for you!).
For rigidity in the body, try Wood Betony tincture; if it’s in the soul, try Willow flower essence.
If nobody can do it as well as you, you need Oak flower essence. Like, now.
And beware of the pedestal. It’s a long drop… and somebody’s going to get hurt.
Let’s talk a little bit about our brains.
While incredibly useful and adaptive, they can also be single-minded (no pun intended!) bullies.
This morning, I was doing a little number crunching for the business. It was one of those potentially annoying jobs that nobody around here had enough time or desire to do. I had a bit of both, so I jumped into the breach.
The truth is, I love detail work. I find painting trim relaxing and the doodles in the margins of my notebooks would make a pointillist proud.
This was just more detail work, nothing particularly upsetting about it.
And yet, my brain was going to town.
It kept up a screaming mantra about how upset I was that I had to do this mindless number crunching. It wanted to create all kinds of drama around the fact that no one else had bothered to do this work. It seemed to think that I was too important and too busy to help out with this particular task.
I checked in with my body; it was fine.
I looked at the calendar; nothing else needed doing.
I glanced back at my ranting brain; it was determined to think me into misery.
More dangerous than that, my brain was trying to goad me into a stress response to what was, essentially, a non-stressful situation.
Stress causes high blood sugar, high blood pressure, brain fog, memory loss… why the heck would my brain want to send me there?
Addiction, dear Watson.
Yup, like many of you I am a recovering cortisol junkie. Like many of you, I spent years mastering the fine art of thinking myself miserable.
In a recent tele-conference with Brene Brown (which you, my dear readers, get a special link to replay), Dr. Lissa Rankin points out that our brain’s amygdala is not particularly smart; it translates shame, anger, resentment, and even our “dress rehearsals for tragedy” (when you think all the way through the worst possible scenario you can dredge up for any situation), as full-on stress.
And each time we turn on our stress-response, we turn off our body’s self-healing mechanisms.
In the past few years, I have learned to leash my Bully Brain.
- Most importantly, realize you are more than your brain.
- Your Bully Brain is a lot like a child who wants attention. Just like with a child, you can notice the ranting without reacting.
- Pull in a little extra support from the plant world to tame the raving beast:
- Passion Flower to calm circular thinking (if your brain feels like a gerbil on a wheel, this one’s for you!).
- Rhodiola to lower cortisol levels (yup, there is science on that).
- Milky Oat to sooth the stressors of daily modern life.
- Take an essential oil break:
- Put a drop of your favorite essential oil on your palm. My choices: grapefruit, sea pine, or cistus (rock rose).
- Rub your hands together and hold them over your nose. Inhale. Exhale. Ahhhhh.
Share this with a friend and combat your Bully Brains together!