GRATITUDE IS A PROPELLER
A little of this... A little of that...
Beginning with the practice of gratitude itself...
This year I discovered the work of author and qualitative researcher Dr. Brené Brown. Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection was recommended to me by a Christian counselor.
I struggle with perfectionism -- not in having a spotless house or anything neurotic like that. (That's a joke. My brand of perfectionism is just as neurotic.)
My struggle with perfectionism manifests highest in relational performance. For many years, my worthiness as a human being has been tied up in how well I meet the needs and expectations of others; not disappointing people, not being a bother.
As if I have to tell anyone this, I fail miserably at meeting my own standards.
I used to read a lot of self-help books. I then went through a season of avoiding self-help and only reading gospel-centered inspirational books. Both types of "help" are written by Christian authors. The biggest distinction for me is that self-help (even some Christian self-help) is driven by a formulaic message (do this, not that) and is rooted primarily in self; feeling better about ourselves, believing in ourselves.
A more gospel-centered book on personal growth is usually not simply helping me feel better about myself. In fact, some of what I read may result in feeling my brokenness deeply. But instead of pointing me to myself for all the answers and putting myself back together through my own effort, a gospel-centered message points me to Christ and what has already been done for me -- resulting in gratitude, which propels me to live my best life. And that results in getting beyond myself.
After The Gifts of Imperfection, I wound up reading two more Brené Brown books because she speaks so transparently about her own struggles with shame, vulnerability and worthiness. I've listened to The Power of Vulnerability four or five times now and (after a complete read) parts of Rising Strong multiple times.
Brené talks about practicing gratitude -- including being grateful for our imperfection. If we cannot share our common humanity, which for all of us includes being flawed, what is there to build any kind of meaningful, genuine relationship on? After all, as Brené points out, it is through our imperfection that we connect with one another.
Although I've practiced gratitude for as long as I can remember, I've never been grateful for my flaws and imperfections.
Perfectionism was cultivated in me as a spiritual requirement throughout my most formative years. It's literally haunted me all my life.
I will never be perfect. But I can be grateful daily.
If you struggle with impossible-to-meet expectations of yourself, as I do, consider joining me in replacing
"I'll try to be more perfect" with I will try to be more grateful ~ maybe even for imperfection!
Gratitude is a propeller. Perfectionism is an engine staller.
I look forward to sharing my thankfulness all month.
I'm going to attempt a daily post even if it's brief.
But if I miss a day, as I'm quite sure I will,
I'm not going to get caught up in perfectionism...