I recently spent four days leading a Destiny Project retreat in the beautiful Welsh countryside. When I got home on Sunday night I somewhat glibly wrote this on Facebook…
“Freedom is what happens when we let ourselves out of the chains of trying to measure up to a thing that simply doesn’t exist, when we tear up the strange notion of perfection, when we release the bonds of comparison and we find the simple truth that all I was ever meant to do, was be myself. This was my weekend in a nutshell.”
It had been a powerful weekend and I truly meant what I said in that social media ping to the world… but I realised later that this was not a brief sum up of a long weekend in the hills—this was the thing which my own heart was screaming for, the thing I deeply desired and yearned for and the reason many of us have experienced wonky or downright painful female relationships.
Within each of us is a desire for freedom—and as I pondered these few short sentences I started to see what freedom really looks like.
It looks like letting ourselves be ourselves. Simple, huh!? Sadly not…
We each hold ourselves to a standard that doesn’t exist and is impossible to find—perfection. We hold ourselves to it when we beat ourselves up for getting something wrong—losing the plot at our kids for leaving their underwear on the floor again, eye rolling our boss, or husband or group leader, gossiping about that same thing that we tore apart last week and the one before (insert a million billion other examples, right?!). We hold ourselves to perfection when we cover up our mistakes because we feel shame over them, when we project a mis-image to those around us, when we present the perfect Stepford Christian whilst the grotty and the messy simmer under the surface.
We compare ALL THE TIME—and sometimes come off worse, and sometimes come off better—meaning someone else comes off worse. Whenever you find yourself standing in the space of ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’ someone looses.
We measure our worth by all these crazy external things like our size or our roles or what other people think of us or let us be a part of and we forget that being ourselves in the world is enough…if we actually know who we are and what we have to offer.
I realised that freedom is a choice—and although very often I believe the lie that external circumstances are the things keeping me chained up, I know deep down that I already hold the key to the lock that would grant me freedom…and that was what I saw in those brave, bold women in Wales—I saw them unlock their own chains, put down perfection, let go of comparison and drop the act…it was there they found freedom and hope—once they had, the space to know who they truly are in the eyes of a loving Father who had dreamed them up somewhere way-back-when before anyone or anything told them anything different about who they are.
Now that is freedom.
What would it look like for you to drop the Stepford Christian act with the people in your world and truly show up?
Where is perfectionism or comparison holding you back?
What bold step could you make to claim the key you already have?
Blog post by Helen Cottee, Co-Active Life Coach and Destiny Project Facilitator. Check out Helen’s website.