Tag Archives: recovery

Better than my best

I love The Sound of Music. My oldest child loves The Sound of Music. We’ve watched the movie countless times and played the soundtrack over and over and over. There is much to be enjoyed – In My Humble Opinion – and even much to be learned from the story.

Except for one thing.

As Maria (Julie Andrews) is heading to the Captain’s home, to meet him and his children for the first time, she is nervous. Understandably. So in order to bolster her spirits and self-confidence, she sings “I Have Confidence.” Which is great, except for when she sings, “I’ll do better than my best.”

What exactly is better than our best? And how do we attain it? is it attainable?

As a recovering perfectionist who believed – even when I didn’t realize I believed – that my best wasn’t ever enough, better than my best is a tough concept. A debilitating and potentially derailing concept.

Better than my best. That’s like giving more than 100% effort or running faster than I can run. It’s not really possible. At all. And it sets me up to not only fail but to be frustrated with my effort and accomplishment. It gives me prime opportunity to beat myself up and to get stuck in the self-defeating belief that I’m not enough.

As I’ve written before, it took me a long time to unlearn my not enoughness, and I can still get blindsided by this faulty thinking. It took me many years of repeating the mantra, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.” Many years of catching myself in the self-lambasting thinking and actively choosing to think, see, and notice differently. Many years of being willing to try to see the enoughness in all around me and in me before I could let my best be enough. Before I could not have to try to be “better than my best.”

I still think Maria’s message of self-confidence is a powerful and necessary one. I still think many of us need more belief in ourselves and more conviction that we are okay and will be okay, and that we can handle whatever comes our way. I still think that Maria’s looking to the sunshine and rain, to the turning of the seasons and the way nature surrounds and supports us, is a way to find strength when we don’t think we have it and we know we’ll need it.

But I now think that my best is usually quite enough, and I don’t have to try to be better than my best. Or to even think that there is a better than my best.

Even if Maria sang it so well, I’m just going to be my best.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Stop talking so you (I) can listen

I think many, if not all, of us have a propensity to need to explain ourselves. I know I do.

I have a quest to be heard. To be understood. To be gotten. And this can cause me to talk and talk and talk. To make sure you grasp my situation and my feelings. That you see my point of view.

I’m learning to stop talking so much, so that I can listen. I want to listen to you, to hear your story, to know your truth. I want to listen to others, to be open to their paths and their knowledge.

I’m learning to sit and hear my surroundings. To witness the birdsongs and the breeze blowing. To pay attention. To be more aware.

I’m walking up the street in quiet and allowing myself to be part of my surroundings. I’m not on my phone. I don’t have ear buds in my ears. I hear my footsteps, the laughter of children in the preschool playground, neighbors saying “hello” as I pass by.

I’m quieting the ceaseless chatter in my mind. Well, I’m trying to quiet the ceaseless chatter in my mind. I’m sitting in quiet meditation more often, listening to the world around me and the world within me.

I want to recognize that your truth is at least as true as my truth, and at least as important for me to know. I want to hear your truth. I want to hear my truth of silence and peace. Of calm and overwhelming love.

I believe these truths are there for my hearing, if I will only stop and listen. I believe I have my answers, if I will only be quiet long enough to let myself hear them. I believe the wrongs of the world can be righted if we only stop and listen to each other.

I need to stop talking so that I can listen. I need to stop speaking so that I can hear. I need to stop trying to figure it all out so that I can just be. I need to stop fighting to stay safe so that I can realize I am safe.

The endless chatter in my mind – and in relationships – isn’t necessary, and it isn’t helping me anymore. I may have thought this unending blathering made everything make more sense, but I was wrong.

I’m stopping talking so that I can listen. At least I’m trying to.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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I’m proud of myself for breaking the rules

As I’ve mentioned before, I was anorexic decades ago, and I still can have what I call anorexic thinking – where I get rigid and stringent, unrelentless with myself, and vigilant about doing everything “just so” and following every rule and guideline. It most likely stems from a need to control, to be perfect, and to make sure I f—k nothing up. It most likely comes from fear.

I may have mentioned that my oldest child used to be, at least in some ways, a rigid rule follower. We used to celebrate if they would ever color outside the lines in a coloring book, or act out in school. I wonder where they got it?

Rule following is helpful and productive at times. There are rules that make sense and guidelines that can help us. Rigid rule following, on the other hand, is at least a slippery slope, if not a dangerous decline no matter what. Especially for me.

A few years back I stumbled through a challenge. Well, crawled through it, I guess. What got me at least somewhat to the other side were rules – a bit of cognitive behavioral therapy with which I retrained myself around my challenge. So the rules were helpful, but my rigidity kicked in. I was swirling – and drowning – in my anorexic thinking and unyielding need to follow exactly (and I mean exactly) what I was told to do.

Which wasn’t a good place to be. It may have been better than the depth of the challenge, but I became so severe and inflexible that I was mostly, if not totally, driven by fear.

Until one day I stopped. Or, actually, bit-by-bit I dropped rule by rule. I breathed. I trusted. I took chances. I had faith. I eased into a new place.

My therapist asked me how I managed to break the rules and be less strict. She was shocked. I honestly don’t actually know.

Once again, maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I’m resilient. Maybe I have a steel rod for a spine (as my mother used to say) that kicks in and saves me EVERY time. Maybe I have guardian angels who won’t let me totally crash and burn. I don’t know.

But I’m damn proud of myself for breaking the rules. Even as I applauded any violation of rules by my oldest child, I applaud mine as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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