I’m three months from publication of my memoir, Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy. Life is good. In addition to maintaining the spiritual and creative practices that sustain me (meditation, journal writing, dance, and yoga), I’m enjoying teaching and coaching. I’m writing articles in preparation for my book’s release that my publicist will try to place. I’m working with two talented filmmakers on a book trailer, which will be ready in April. I’m enrolled in the She Writes Social Media Bootcamp for Authors, learning how to use Instagram, which is fabulous because I love images. I’m also participating in Rohini Ross’ and Barb Patterson’s “The Space: A Global Mastermind for Solopreneurs,” founded on the Three Principles (mind, consciousness, and thought.) This group provides psycho-spiritual as well as practical business support. Last week I hired a second publicist to help plan my book tour, which is starting in Southern California. And I’m tending to the details of platform building. I find myself eager to jump out of bed each morning and start my day.
Still, as a recovering perfectionist, I stress. Sometimes I clutch life a little too hard. It’s as if my hands are gripping the steering wheel of my car as I navigate brutal traffic. I want to control things. I want everything to be “just right.” I want to leave no stone unturned in my publishing process.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote on perfectionism is my favorite: “I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I’m not good enough and I never will be good enough.’”
Perfectionism is antithetical to love, the force from which I aspire to live my life. I fall short of that mark repeatedly, but it’s helpful to be aware when this happens—to catch myself worshiping at the altar of fear and its cousins: lack, insecurity, and doubt. If I can see this pattern, I can change it—but only if I believe it. Thoughts are powerful.
The way to see if perfectionism is bringing you down is to check out the energy behind your actions. Ask yourself, Am I doing xyz out of desperation? To prove my worth? To impress somebody? To appease a voice inside my head? To escape darkness? Or am I doing this for fun? Pleasure? Out of love? This is my goal—to do things out of love. Check out my post, “The Only Reason to Do Anything Is for Love.”
In my writing classes and with my clients I teach the importance of process over product. Product is excrement of process. How do you write? Do you let yourself free on the page? Or do you hem and haw, stop every other line, reread and judge what you’ve written? The latter creates writer’s block. The former is the birthplace of beautiful stories.
I once dreamed I was driving on the freeway and the steering wheel came off in my hands. I was holding it and steering, but it wasn’t attached to the car. My first thought was, Holy shit, I’m going to crash, until I realized my car was moving along smoothly without my steering. Life is this way—like riding bumper cars as a kid. You have the fun illusion of steering, of being in control when you’re not. In my dream, I tossed the steering wheel out of my car and let my car drive itself. I handed over my illusion of control.
I try to live from this understanding. I accept that I’m being driven—by what or whom I’m not sure. But the car that is my life knows where to go. When I remember that I don’t need to navigate alone, I let go and relax. This how I want to live my life and this is how I intend to experience the publication of my book: show up in ways that are appropriate, but also let go and enjoy the ride. And I’m giving myself permission to show up as I am, with all my imperfections.
In what ways might you be holding your own steering wheel a wee bit too tight? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.