I didn't do a perfect job, but I was much more self-compassionate this week. My music therapy supervisor, Soozie, also helped me to be self-compassionate by assigning me to write down what things I did well in the children's group, and then share that list with her the next day. I wrote down the things I did well, trying to think of as many honest things I could, then I put the list aside. The next day I looked at it, and realized that my list described the attributes that I would want in a music therapist if I was hiring one. So that was a pretty happy moment! I think that writing it right after the experience means that I was able to remember all the good things clearly, but being a day separated from it helped me to evaluate it more clearly, and see it for how good it actually was. I could recognize the good, instead of being wrapped up in my thoughts of "How could I have forgotten the colored scarves? And why didn't I put the songs in a better order? And why can't I think fast enough on my feet, about what to do next?" Instead, I could say "I was really engaged with the kids in the group. And I was able to play songs on the violin without any preparation or written music, when the need called for it. And I included every child, even the ones who were quiet, and gave everyone a chance to shine. And I was authentic."
As I was thinking about this guidepost more this week and last, I remembered that the guidepost has a second part. The whole name of the guidepost is "Cultivating Self-Compassion. Letting Go of Perfectionism." Which gave me a little more direction in how I apply this self-compassion thing. I believe that I don't need to be constantly complimenting myself. I think that self-compassion is most important in those perfectionistic moments, those times when we get stuck in a circle in our heads, saying "Why did I make that mistake? Why can't I get this right? I'm not ___ enough! And now people have seen that!" My goal is to get into a habit of self kindness, so that when those perfectionistic moments come, I will be more easily able to say to myself, "Ali, I love you no matter what. You've got this. I know you will figure it out, in time. Breathe. =)"
I would like to share a quote about perfectionism that was very mind-opening for me. I share it on Facebook a few months back, and several others expressed it helped them in the same way. This is from Brene's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," page 56:
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight.
Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused -- How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused -- What will they think?
I've also heard her say in a video clip that perfectionism is a shield that prevents us from being truly seen.
The thing that started me on my journey to Chicago was actually a dream I had. The message conveyed to me in the dream was "Don't be afraid to truly be yourself. Those who care will accept you for who you are, and there will also be others who will not only accept you, but love you for it. And they will be loving the real you." And then the second message of the dream was "Do your internship in Chicago." I'm seeing that unfold in several possible ways, but I think the main one is that I am learning to love myself for who I am. And as I love myself for who I am, I imagine that all my relationships from here on out have the capacity to be infinitely more wonderful. I know I was supposed to come to Chicago, and I am so grateful for it. As I learn to do hard things and grow, while also loving myself through the uncomfortable growing experiences, I am coming to know myself more deeply, and recognizing a very bright and happy future more deeply than I have before. It will most certainly be hard, but my life is going to be more deeply joyful and exciting than I realized it could be.
Also, I wanted to share my morning reminder that I just posted on my wall (real wall in my room) yesterday. Maybe you can say it to yourself as well. =)