Meditation: Calm, Relationship with Self Series: Perfectionism Length: 10 minutes Where: Office/Guest Room, Los Angeles How It Felt: Like a relief
Okay. This is not my seventh monthly check-in. It’s simply not. If you’ve been reading along, you know I skipped a couple here and there. But it is for the seventh month, and if it didn’t line up like that I’d go crazy, so… here we are!
I know it’s weird. It’s soothing, though. I like when things line up!
For instance, I finished the last of this Relationship with Self series on the last day of the month! You may recall I actually wanted to finish it before my birthday a few weeks ago, but I ended up mixing up the types of meditations I was doing this month, so it didn’t happen. At least I finished it in July!
And how fitting for the topic to be “Perfectionism.” Something I’ve long since let go of, which is why I’m not beating myself up for taking the whole month to finish something I intended to finish much earlier! Life happens, and we don’t do everything perfectly from start to finish. I used to be a huge perfectionist. It’s a defense mechanism, a way of trying to stop other people from criticizing you in any way.
“If I’m perfect, you can’t hurt me.”
Of course, we end up hurting ourselves much more this way. We constantly beat ourselves up for every mistake or perceived mistake, every place we fall short (or are simply human), every tiny faux pas and every big embarrassment. Rather than actually protecting us from anything, perfectionism holds us back, keeping us in the “safe” space where we are least likely to mess up.
Brené Brown, as always, says it best:
Life is meant to be messy. That’s how you know you’re really living it!
So, onto my messy, incorrectly numbered check-in, which I haven’t done every single month because sometimes I fall short. What a perfectly imperfect segue!
What I’ve hoped to find:
- Increased calm, less anxiety- I know- I mean, I really know, that this is happening. However, life has me anxious for actual life reasons lately, so I’m definitely not anxiety free. When I look at how I’ve felt in the past when things get intense vs how I feel now, though? Meditation is 100% lowering my day-to-day anxiety, zero question.
- Better balance & handling of my manic episodes– Simply YES. Normally the stress I’ve felt these past few weeks would trigger a huge manic episode in which I felt no appetite, no need to sleep, and lots of need to DO BIG THINGS! I haven’t really thought about this until now, but I’ve barely felt manic at all. I maybe had a couple of days with some gentle mania… but certainly not to any normal levels. Wow! This is so funny, but to be honest, I miss it a bit! Isn’t it amazing how our mental health stuff becomes a part of us? I just usually get so much done on those days- ha! Still, very happy to be better balanced, don’t get me wrong.
- Much less reactivity in my daily life– This has probably been the biggest shift I’ve experienced along this journey. I now let sooooo many things go that would have gotten me worked up in the past. When I feel myself reacting, my brain is actually in the habit of catching it now, and I can calm myself pretty immediately. Usually. The more I practice, the more consistent this is. I used to wander through life at the mercy of people around me, just hoping they wouldn’t be jerks so I wouldn’t get worked up. (Thanks to a lifetime of having my guard up.) Now? I can separate myself and I’m much better at getting back to my own peace.
- More empathy- for myself & others– I’ve consistently felt this growing and now I’m in an interesting place philosophically. I’m hitting a bit of a wall with people who are actively choosing selfish or abusive behavior when I know they have been given tools they need to be better, but they refuse to use them. This will be my next level of exploration.
- A better understanding of who I am at my core– Yes, yes, beyond yes. RuPaul told me this would happen if I would commit to getting still. I am seeing things about myself I never took time to notice before. I’m understanding the way I function on the smallest level. I’m asking myself deep questions and actually finding myself able to answer them honestly. This exploration started at the beginning of the pandemic (and, really, I’ve been working on myself my entire life), but meditation is helping me take it to the next level.
- Inspiration, ideas, & solutions– I’ve been having creative ideas during my sessions again! I love that. Solutions, I’m not so sure. I also haven’t done a series I’m really excited about in a bit, so I think I get more inspiration when I find the ones that speak to me deeply.
- A more direct connection to my emotions– I…. think so? My emotions are a little bit… muted lately. The ever-marching pace of life has caught back up to me, and half my brain is in survival mode most days. The last three weeks have been more stressful than the three months before them put together, so this is a hard one to read. Stress makes me less emotional.
- Forgiveness– Forever expanding my capacity for forgiveness, bit by bit. I don’t know how much meditation is moving the needle. I think I was pretty good at this to begin with… but it’s a journey, of course.
- A deeper capacity for love and acceptance– I’ve been angry with about half the country lately, and I don’t think I feel accepting of these people right at this moment. Then again, it comes from a deep love of humankind, of my family, of myself. I want everyone to be safe and healthy and to feel free. I can’t accept short-sighted behavior that gets in the way of this. At what point to we become too accepting, and make others feel that their crappy behavior is sanctioned by everyone around them?
- More range & confidence as an actor– I should be able to answer this because I am FINALLY ACTING AGAIN! Yay! It’s a meaty role, as I’ve shared, and it should feel amazing. However, after the first week the stress of “Will we even be able to perform??” crept in and it’s definitely blocking my creativity and, as mentioned above, connection to my emotions. It felt like I was a wild horse finally set free to run, then a fence popped up around me again. I don’t know, man. To date, I have always given my best performances once a show is up and running, as it’s easy for me to be in that moment. I’ll know more after that! IF we can perform!
You know what, though? I had a huge audition that I normally would have told myself was too big for me, that I shouldn’t even bother with at this point in my career, and I really did it. I was fully committed and believed the part could be mine. So, confidence, yes. Definitely. I do have more of that!
- An even more loving marriage– Every single day! Between meditation, my letting go of toxic people that kept me a bit resentful sometimes as they asked too much of me, and my husband’s serious commitment to working on himself, healing his past wounds and getting stronger and more loving all the time….it’s been amazing. I have to give him a ton of credit, though, because a strong marriage takes two people willing to look at themselves and be better than before. It’s been really inspiring watching him blossom. It’s all I wish for everyone I love.
- Some wisdom, perhaps– The meditation and the chance to write out my thoughts and feelings every day have come together to teach me a lot. It’s been humbling and empowering at the same time. I feel I can articulate so much I couldn’t before. I’m loving it.
- Less annoyance at the world in general when things don’t go the way I think they should– Ha. Hard time to ask. Get vaccinated. I’ll try this one again next time! (Yes, generally, but right now I’m extremely annoyed!)
- Greater flexibility– Yes! I would never have described myself as a flexible person before. I like to have control of a situation! It’s a trauma response, obviously, but one that made my life a bit miserable, since it turns out you can control very, very little in life. I think it’s helped to move away from relationships that make me responsible for everything and everyone. I can’t believe I lived as if that was just normal for 35 years. It’s so empowering now to put that responsibility back into the laps if its owners! It allows me to relax and maneuver much more deftly.
- The ability to meditate well– to sit comfortably, to let thoughts pass without grabbing them, to actually get the most out of the practice (with the understanding it will never be “perfect” & that some days will be more challenging than others)– I’m getting really good at this overall, but I’ve been very distracted the past few weeks. I haven’t had this much going on in my life for over 16 months and my brain seems nervous to turn off at any point. All the more reason to meditate as often and long as possible! Practice makes perfect. (Or imperfect but good enough!)
- A clear map to that quiet place that lives inside all of us– I’m getting there, I think. I hope. Maybe I don’t have a clear map, but I am really, really trusting that I can find the way.