I have what I like to call the “perfectionism plague,” not because perfectionism can be spread (though it certainly can be taught), but because it eats away at you. My whole life I have been taught to do my best. While this is commendable, and I think something that should be taught, in my mind I interpreted it as I must be perfect, flawless.
Can you imagine what that can do to a person? I agonized over mistakes I made and had an extremely hard time forgiving myself. I also thought that my perfectionism was what made me a good person! So of course, whenever I made a blunder it meant that I was a bad person! Despite all the good things I was trying to aspire to be if I made one tiny mistake I immediately saw myself as a bad person. Sounds logical, right?
Well, then my anxiety happened. After the birth of my son I started seeing a therapist and she brought a book to my attention called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. First of all, I cannot recommend her work enough! Secondly, this book opened my eyes and helped me to see the world in a different way.
For years, I felt like a bad person (and still do unfortunately, sometimes). I hated myself. Then I read the book and it brought a lot of answers. It helped me see that I wasn’t a bad person just because I make mistakes daily! It also taught me that being vulnerable & letting people see the true me was okay. One of the biggest things that came indirectly from reading the book was that I felt that God gave me anxiety because He loved me. I was given anxiety because He wanted me to learn to let go. God wanted me to not just endure my life but enjoy it.
This was life changing for me. God didn’t want me to dwell in the past and keep beating myself up over minor errors. He wanted me to see how far I have come. I think this quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS church sums it up perfectly.
“God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go.”
While my journey with anxiety has been tough I now see it as one of my greatest blessings. I’ve learned so much. Your mistakes and bad days don’t define you. Neither does my anxiety for that matter. Do something you enjoy today! Squeeze your baby a little tighter. Go for a walk. Visit a book store. Take a bath. Whatever makes you happy, do it! Let go of the past and look forward to the future!
If you are interested in learning more about Brene Brown and her research here is her website http://brenebrown.com/
Written By: Emily Hammer