Monday, October 29, 2012

A new definition of performance anxiety.

"The pursuit of perfection, then,
is the pursuit of sweetness and light."
~Matthew Arnold

I don't know if it's because I'm Asian, which is how the idea of perfection became bred into my being, or because I learned at a very young age that positive affirmations are closely tied with overachieving, but there has never been a day or night that I have not thought, "I could've done better." 

Turns out, that's an exhausting way to live. To think that an 'A' is not good enough, that an 'A+' is better. To think that my existence is not good enough, but that I must always be an enhanced version of who I am to be loved. 

So, I'm driven. And, I'm tired.

During my mind-body phone call with Barry today, I explained how the work is happening on my end. I thought I was doing great, albeit feeling plenty of unpleasant emotions and behavioral side-effects in the meanwhile. And, within a few minutes, he pointed out how I'm still entrenched in old habits. 
"You could've called or texted at any time, but you didn't," he gently reminded me. "I'm here for you, yet you still feel like you have to do this all on your own."
And, here I was, thinking that I was actually relying on him. 
"Don't be the 'good girl,'" he's been telling me all along. "Stop trying to 'do it right.' Don't let your mind do this. Feel the feelings. The psychology won't get it out."
Certain habits are truly hard to break. I know. I struggled with eating patterns — and still sometimes do — that don't serve me, but are so difficult to step away from. My mind, my ego, just won't let that go. This thinking that if I can control how my body looks, then the rest of the world will be okay. It's just like with worrying; we always think that something good will come out of it, as though the intention we put behind being concerned about something one way or another is going to change the outcome somehow, even though within, we realize that we don't have control and worrying will do no good. I know to the core of my being, that I'm done with it. Both the eating patterns and the worry, yet it's like I've walked through a giant spiderweb where the tendrils are still vaguely there, just barely, sticky, invisible, present.

There's a light/breath/eye-movement technique that we're working with and I mentioned to him that it's causing me to feel nauseated. He asked me to demonstrate how I've been doing it, and gave me suggestions on what a better technique would be. He also noted that I have no idea if my body is energetically releasing the effects of the eating disorder that my body battled with for the better part of a a decade. I hadn't thought about that — in this time that I've been doing energy work, I hadn't really thought about helping myself to heal on all levels from the effects of starvation, bingeing, and purging.  
"I've been studying scripture, yoga, chanting," Barry continued. "I've spent decades learning from gurus and being in study groups. It is absolutely delusional to believe that we need to be these pure beings. Nowhere in scripture does it say that, nowhere are these learnings teaching us to be phony or fake, to stuff what's actually going on in order to be pure. This is why there's divine grace and karma.  
If you study the stories that are actually told, you'll notice that a lot of these gods and goddesses were sons-of-bitches at one time or another. Shiva cut off the head of her own son! And she was Divine Consciousness in manifestation!  
You're in an industry with all these New Age teachings where they tell us us that we need to shun everything and be perfect to be pure, but that's not at all what it's about. It's about believing that you are Divine just as you are right now. If you look at the history of great humans, they were all screw-ups at one point or another. It wouldn't be called learning if you got it right the first time."
I quieted on the phone. 
"This, this energy right now," he observed, "This is you being congruent. For all that you're going through, this is the real you. That upbeat presentation you do? That's not you being congruent with who you are right now. Allow yourself to be here in it. Let things come out. Have your feelings, have your moods, and have them be acceptable to you. When you let this happen, everything else becomes congruent, and you become more congruent. This isn't about pretending, unless things are genuinely good. This is about being yourself. You are more lovable the more real you are, because that is what there is to love."
"And one more thing, work on the performance thing. Who are you performing for? You're not performing for me, because I don't care if it takes you five minutes or five months to go through this work. There are no prizes, no points, no penalty. You know who you're performing for. You love yourself, you always have and always will. You don't care about performing for you, because you're just loving and joy. But ask yourself, who are you really performing for? Because performance is a big thing for you. To do it right. Mistakes are the ways that we grow. Relax. You're doing great and you're exactly where you're supposed to be."
I think it's amazing how in just a few moments on the phone with him, Barry can point out all these ways that my mind likes to deceive me. All these ways that I am falling into traps that were set up a long time ago. This work came at exactly the right time for me, as I'm feeling fragmented in various parts of my life and extremely uncomfortable at how all the pieces are going to come together. But, I was recently told not to worry, that if I look at every element of my life as a giant puzzle and bring all the pieces closer together, the gel that will help hold everything in one cohesive picture if forming. And pretty soon, I'll know exactly what that is.

So, I ask for grace to know what to do. Or, more accurately, how to be. Let me be in my truth and from there, please let it illuminate everything else.