Get Moving

by Patricia Spadaro

cropped.start“You’re not good enough.”

It’s difficult to step onto the stage of life, spread your arms wide, and say “Hello, world!” when you hear disparaging voices rumbling around in your head reciting the litany of your past “mistakes.”

Although we might be adroit at hiding it from others and even ourselves, that feeling of being “not good enough,” often rooted in childhood experiences, can still be alive and kicking in the subterranean world that rules so many of our thoughts and actions today.

The problem with that scenario is that if you classify yourself as “not good enough,” when will you give yourself permission to start fulfilling your dreams? When will you finally enjoy what life has to offer right now? When is it okay to stop judging yourself, your relationships, all the conditions of your life against that illusive target of perfection? And when will you finally come out of hiding?

The Paralyzing Propensity to Procrastinate

Many of us have been duped into believing that everything we do must measure up to the stiff standard of human perfection. For those of us who are perfectionists (I’m raising my hand), that’s a trap that can shut us down and shut us up. We procrastinate and ruminate, analyze and spin our wheels instead of taking the next step, any step, even if it’s a baby step.

The sages of both ancient and modern times take a much more balanced view. While they certainly encourage us to strive for excellence, they also emphasize that the goal of our life is not to live up to some unapproachable ideal of mechanical perfection. Human perfection is not the goal. Learning to express more of your true self is.

The beautiful ancient classic of India, the Bhagavad Gita, gives the following antidote for the paralyzing propensity of too much perfectionism and procrastination:

“Action is greater than inaction: perform therefore thy task in life. . . . Greater is thine own work, even if this be humble, than the work of another, even if this be great. . . And a man should not abandon his work, even if he cannot achieve it in full perfection; because in all work there may be imperfection, even as in all fire there is smoke.”  (translation Juan Mascaro)

In other words, it’s better to do something rather than nothing. It’s better to put your time and energy into what you are called to do, deep inside. And it’s better to act now than wait for some future perfect time when your future perfect self is perfectly ready to perfectly execute the perfect project.

As a perfectionist myself, those wise words of the Bhagavad Gita are always a great inspiration (in fact, when I came across them again today they helped me get up the umph to write this post). They are a wonderful reminder to snap out of it and move forward.

You don’t have to be perfect to start giving your gifts. You just have to be you.

It’s time to get moving.  Now.

For more inspiration and tips to snap out of the “not good enough” syndrome and embrace your passion, read my book Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving, especially the chapters in Part 4.

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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What wakes you up when you’re stuck in procrastination or perfectionism? We’d love to hear…

Honor Your Inner Impulses

by Patricia Spadaro

“Most of us,” said prominent psychologist Abraham Maslow, “have learned to avoid authenticity.” That’s a serious charge and a worthy challenge. What he meant was that many of us are trained to ignore our inner signals. We suppress our feelings rather than express them. We haven’t dug deep and gotten in touch with our own impulses. And it’s those impulses that impel us to follow our real desires and that make us excited to share our life’s passions with others.

In his work, Malsow found that connecting with our inner voice is extremely important. He said that people who are psychologically strong and healthy are “able to hear their inner-feeling-voices more clearly than most people.” They use internal not external criteria when making their decisions, everything from what to eat or wear to issues of values and ethics. They are clear on what they do and do not want. Unfortunately, he says, the way we are raised often produces the opposite effect. He uses the example of the child who says he detests spinach but whose feelings are nullified by his mother, who tells him, “We love spinach,” when she could just as easily have said, “I know you don’t like spinach, but you have to eat it anyway for such-and-such reasons.”

Losing touch with your inner knowing can be dangerous. We tend to attribute stress, anxiety, and depression to some ineluctable, fast-paced force of modern life. But those can be symptoms of something deeper—the outer manifestation of the inner tension that churns within us when we are denying our own inner impulses.

Are you listening to yourself?

I find that it takes practice to listen for what your own inner voice is telling you, especially if you’re one of those people (like me) who is better at giving to others than to yourself. One thing I’ve found very helpful is to literally listen to my voice—to listen to how I am speaking rather than what I am saying.

We use this skill all the time to read others. We know that a friend is upset or burdened when we hear her voice crack. We know that our children are happy when they are animated and speak quickly. If we call a parent and we hear a listless, dull voice at the other end of the phone, we know something is wrong. It’s not the words that tell us but the expression in the voice. The tone tells it all.

While we’re accustomed to reading others in this way, we can get so caught up in what’s happening around us that we forget to listen to ourselves. Yet that is exactly what gives us valuable clues for getting back on track. If, for instance, you catch yourself sounding grumpy, impatient, or tired, it’s probably time to ask, “What am I feeling, and what can I do to honor myself right now?” If you hear a worried or frantic tone in your voice, that may be a sign that you need to slow down and get back in touch with the present moment rather than letting speculative fears of the future spin you out of control.

Your voice holds valuable messages if you listen for them—and it’s not just the downturns that speak to us. When you catch that lilt of excitement in your voice or when you hear yourself happily whistling or humming away, take note. What are you doing or thinking about that is making your heart sing? That’s what can bring more joy into your life when you do it again and again.

>> Do you take the time to listen to yourself?

>> What is your inner voice telling you?

>> Are you in touch with your inner impulses—with what makes you excited to be alive?

>> Are you being honest about what your inner voice is saying, and are you committed to following through on it?

Join the conversation and share your comments, questions, and lessons with us.

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