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 Own Style

by Patricia Spadaro

Life is never a one-size-fits-all formula. If you are to develop and give your gifts (that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?), you must honor who you are and celebrate your own voice. That means embracing the paradox that while it’s important to value the mentors and role models who guide us, we must also rely on ourselves and honor our own style.

Depending solely on others is like taking a long walk in borrowed shoes. If the shoes are even a bit too big or small, they can be very uncomfortable. If you walk long enough under those conditions, you’ll get blisters. Eventually the pain becomes so bad that you can’t go on. That’s what happens to you when you force yourself into a mold that isn’t your own. The remedy: walk at your own pace and in your own shoes.

Admittedly, I’ve been somewhat recalcitrant on this point, and therefore life has generously given me many lessons to teach me to trust myself and to be myself. One dramatic lesson came when I was hiking in the beautiful Teton Range near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with two friends. Both walked briskly, covering more ground more quickly than I could. At the time, I didn’t think about the fact that nature had endowed these women with long, strapping legs that could scramble up the steep path like mountain goats. Instead, I blamed myself for not being able to match their pace.

“Something is wrong with me,” I thought to myself. “I must really be out of shape. If I just push a little harder, I can keep up.” So that’s what I did. I pushed, and then pushed some more. My strategy worked, but halfway through the hike, the consequences set in. I pulled a muscle in my hip without realizing it. The ache I felt at the time was tolerable until we started the long descent down the mountain. At that point, every step I took was painful. It hurt so much that I couldn’t even bear to carry my small backpack.

I don’t remember much about the sights, smells, or sounds of that day. I don’t remember much of anything except the pain. I forfeited my ability to enjoy the trek by struggling to keep up with someone else. But I did learn an invaluable lesson: if you don’t walk at your own pace, you will only end up hurting yourself.

Over the years, when I’ve been tempted to take an action that doesn’t honor my own style, speed, or destination, I’ve thought back to that experience. In a few cases, I wish I had recalled that episode sooner. It might have saved me the anguish of another long practice session in self-reliance.

The myth: I can make the same choices and take the same steps that have worked for others.

The magic (and the paradox): I value my mentors, but I also ask my own questions, seek my own answers, and shape my own life. I embrace the paradox that to fulfill my reason for being, I must learn from my mentors AND rely on myself.

For your reflection:
“Insist on yourself; never imitate. . . . Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Are you trying to keep up with someone or fit into someone else’s mold? How?

– Is that limiting your expression of your true self?

– What will you do next to step out of that mold and be your authentic self?

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

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