On not Being OK

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Fighting my way out of Perfectionism

Photo by Brittany Bendabout on Unsplash

Admitting where I am is the first step. I am the person that intellectualizes all my experiences so that I don’t have to feel them. I do my best to try and take a full 360 look at what’s happening so that I don’t have to *actually* experience it.

Perfectionism is the funny thing. We think we can bulletproof ourselves from pain, by creating an airtight life. Some of us are so hypervigilant that we prefer to take the first hit against outselves. A flawed logic that says, you can’t hurt me BECAUSE I DID IT FIRST.

I deeply see that growth comes from accepting where you are. We simply cannot grow until we admit we are stuck, or have been wrong, or made a mistake. However, what it’s taken me time to realize, is that if my worth is tied up in being perfect — the stakes to admitting that I need help are too high. If it hasn’t felt safe to not knowing, how do we take down the walls and experience growth?

This past year is the year I really understood and experienced that it is OK not to be OK. Needing help doesn’t diminish my value.

But, if you are used to trying to buy love — that manifests as perfectionism, trying to buy love through perfect acts makes it feel especially frightening to admit things aren’t as they seem.

Healing your heart comes from realizing your innate worth. Of course this is a tad bit more difficult to live than it is to write, but everything does come down to being willing to be wrong. To be willing to look at where I am.

I understood that I had to untie my worth from my performance, but the culture that we live sends very strong signals to the contrary. As a coach, I have seen this in my clients. I see their value even when they don’t. I understand so deeply that feeling that I am not good enough until I hit my goals. Feeling like there is so much more you can give. Feeling so frustrated that you aren’t where you know you can go.

What I saw so clearly for my clients, I wasn’t able to extend to myself. Now I see. The way to move forward in a way that feels good and supportive is by acknowledging you are already good enough. By loving yourself even though you aren’t perfect, that you aren’t at your goal. By loving myself even when I’ve made bad calls before and haven’t trusted myself completely. How can we expect to make better choices when we’re constantly beating ourselves up?

When I was a teacher and a graduate student, my research was rooted in the importance of a safe and welcoming environment. In my findings, if students didn’t have a safe environment, they couldn’t learn. The first and most critical element of learning is safety. Of course the irony was that I couldn’t quite create that for myself. I was too scared to admit how much I didn’t know to myself. I was out to prove people wrong instead, so I could distract myself from seeing how much inner work I needed to do on myself. I railed against my job and institutions about the changes they needed to make while not giving myself an ounce of grace in the concepts I knew were crucial elements of growth.

How can I provide safety for someone else or change for someone else if I can’t first do that for myself?

I have had a few conversations recently that have centered on the pressure to be certain (felt most frequently in open and undefined ajna in Human Design, but certainly also felt in defined Ajna’s as well!) These conversations forced something to the surface. I could no longer hide from the intense pressure I put on myself to have the answers in my own life.

Like so many people, I am unable to extend the grace I have for others to myself. So many of us fail to take our own good advice. I am so gentle with my clients and my friends, but when it comes to myself I have the most vicious inner voice and shame cycles that refuse to quit. After enough conversations about taking rest and feeling grateful for what you have, I had to acknowledge that hollow feeling as I spoke, I wasn’t walking my talk, because that would mean I have to face my perceived failings. I needed to keep punishing myself. I choose to fail myself first and foremost, but I also run away from really seeing the extent of this self-distruction. Is there anything more terrifying than not meeting my own expectations?

So instead of facing my self-sabotage, and consciously dealing with it, I avoided my feelings by stepping outside of myself, intellectualizing my choices and pain. Lying to myself about my circumstances instead of being brave and seeing clearly, picking out different victim narratives and when that didn’t work, choosing to numb myself through endless distractions in the news and streaming channels or focusing on how other people were making worse choices than myself.

My biggest seductive distraction is trying to free others while I myself am drowning (something that also literally happened to me as a child when I tried to save my sister in the deep end of the pool when I myself could barely swim) The biggest blessing and trap of being a Projector is that we deeply see others. We get seduced by it and it becomes this endless trail that we can follow to the detriment of ourselves.

I battle shame that I wasn’t as brave as I wish I was in the past, deeply embarrassed by how repressed I was, how small I was. How sad I was— but retreading these steps keeps me in the past and pushes me deeper into my self-repression, ultimately keeping me from showing up fully for myself, prolonging my pain.

I’ve understood that the only thing I can do (on my right angle incarnation cross of service) is to save myself, and I am ready now.

As I sit in meditation, as I get triggered by my family and life, it’s become so clear that the urge to fight and convince others that I am right is besides the point completely. I don’t have to convince anyone of anything. I don’t need to earn permission from someone else to do what I feel called to do. It is not my job to justify my life to anyone else. In trying to save someone else from their mistakes, I am avoiding the only work I have which is that I am here to work out my own salvation. I just have to save myself and tell you what I’ve done and that’s my service (again, my incarnation cross is the right angle cross of service).

Is it self-absorbed? Yes. Anyone born on a the right angle incarnation cross IS INHERENTLY SELF-ABSORBED. 70% of people are right angle incarnation crosses. We’re here with our own tests and instead of sitting down and working through our problems, we’re trying to point out how someone else is doing it wrong. We are all here with our own process to work out. My resolution for 2022? MYOB.

And that’s my Ted talk for today.

Come book a session and I’ll give you the real talk on your design. I love you and I hope you are experiencing joy amidst the chaos of this crazy world 🎉

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Thom. Gage - Human Design Los Angeles

Thom (fka Jeni) Gage is a Human Design reader living in Los Angeles. Learn more about Human Design and book a session or class at jenigage.com