Humble Pie

“O Lord, it’s hard to be humble/When you’re perfect in every way…”

This old country song by Mac Davis has been running through my head lately as I have recently experienced a newfound humility borne out of an old way way of behaving.

The word “humility” is often confused with the word “humiliation” and yet they are not the same. When I am humiliated I feel bad or ashamed about myself. When I am truly humble I am teachable, right-sized and grateful.

When I am trying to be perfect “in every way” I am hardly in a teachable frame of mind. What can I learn when I already know everything? I am not the right size for my skin because I am ten-feet tall and bullet proof. And how can I be thankful when I am judging everybody else for not being as perfect as I am?

I often say I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism is its own form of addiction. I am consumed by the need to be right and I will go to any lengths to sustain the illusion that I have the power to control others and outcomes. Like many addictions perfectionism is coming from a deeply wounded place. I’m not a perfectionist because I’m an exceptional person I’m a perfectionist because I am a broken person.

Last week, after trying to win my way through a discussion and coming up against brick wall after brick wall I was finally confronted with my own self-righteousness. It was not a pleasant feeling. The worst part about it was that I thought I was being very spiritual the whole time I was engaged in the battle! That sounds frighteningly similar to the terrorist who attacks others in the name of God. (I’m being hard on myself. And yet if we are not examining our inner assassins we are hardly in a position to condemn the “real” ones. I feel another post coming on…)

After it became clear that I had been acting like a hypocrite I had no other recourse but to admit I was wrong and make amends. The response from the other side was silence. No more fighting. The interior response was peace. I am dumbstruck by the complete paradox of this simple formula: We diffuse the bomb through surrender. (Would this work as a tactic at the political level? Declaring peace? There’s that other post again…)

As the shame from my humiliation gradually transformed into humility I began to see a wider view. I remembered that my self-centered behaviour is not actually who I am. It is merely the action that comes forth from my woundedness. I reconnected to the unbroken, untouched Sacred Centre that is the True Core of Who I Am and what do you think emerged? Gratitude.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Accepting my imperfection is an ongoing process. I will give thanks for my humanness, which allows my Whole Self to continually emerge.

Home Run

Dearest Readers,

A cousin of mine recently dug up some old home movies and sent a DVD copy my way. My immediate family didn’t have a video camera so I haven’t ever seen any live footage of myself from my childhood. Pictures, yes. Moving pictures, no.

So there I was, no longer a child but not yet a teenager, captured on video and suddenly brought to life on the computer screen. All I’ve ever had of those days are memories that play out in the recesses of my mind. Now they were before me, vivid and tangible. The year was 1983.

The clip I saw was a family baseball game at my grandparents farm.  After the novelty wore off (seeing the past come to life is pretty cool) I found the footage difficult to watch. There before me was the girl I used to be. And it wasn’t pretty.

I pushed my youngest sister aside when she tried to help me play catcher. I refused my other young sister’s pitches because they weren’t up to my standards. I yelled at the other players to run faster. I vied for attention when hit by a ball. All in all, it was rather excruciating.

My immediate response was to go into shame. What a bad kid I was. What a bully. What a bossy pants. What a self-absorbed sore-loser. Look how I ruined the game for everyone!

This has been a pattern in my life. Beating myself up. The sick pleasure it provides is quite baffling but it makes some sense. The inner perfectionist gets to say, “See? You are no good after all.” Painful but understandable. The wounded wound. The hurt hurt.

Being on the Healing Path means I must be willing to change that pattern of thinking. I don’t get to indulge in self-brutality. I need to flip it. I need to change the behaviour.

That night I wrote in my journal: “Could I have mercy on that little girl? Could I love her with all of my heart? She was doing her best. She didn’t have emotional tools. She didn’t have real living skills. She’d experienced sexual trauma only a few short years before. It was not her fault she behaved that way. Those were her survival mechanisms. She was who she was at that time. Love her. Forgive her. Accept her. Be gentle with her.”

And this is what I must do.

The most amazing part about the healing process is finding out that there is still more to heal. This amazes me! I’ve done so much work! How can I still be holding myself hostage for my past behaviour?

I believe it is because we, as humans, are the walking wounded. No matter what our individual wounding is we carry it with us all our lives. And we heal by degrees. We heal in layers. One comes off and another one lies beneath.

This can feel discouraging but, in fact, it is the opposite. It encourages me to remember I am not perfect and I’m not expected to do any of this perfectly. I simply have to do it degree by degree, layer by layer, one step at a time.

Now that’s worth watching.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will continue to forgive myself. For who I am today, for who I was yesterday and for who I will become tomorrow. I will say it now, “I forgive you for being human.”