How to Let Go of Shame & Perfectionism
Ten years ago, I came across “The Cracked Pot” story and was moved by the lines, I have always known about your flaw and took advantage of it by planting flower seeds.”Without your being just the way you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his house.”I immediately knew I wanted to share this healing story with others. Thus, it became the centerpiece of my private practice.
Today, this story has new meaning for me and it may for you too. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please consider posting a comment for this blog on my website or send me an email! Click here to read the story again. And below are a few of my new perspectives.
Like the water carrier in the story, I initially was drawn to help clients, who identified with the “cracked pot”fully accept themselves– cracks and all, and confidently share their newly discovered gifts with the world. I have always been able to see strengths and potential in others, and believe this positive lens emanates in large part from my high school counselor seeing the best in me. I also have natural empathy for the “cracked pots” because I once connected too strongly with this part of myself.
Having affirming mentors and personal/spiritual growth practices, such as therapy, 12 step work, yoga/meditation helped me heal and grow from these practices, I have been able to let go of my view of myself as a “cracked pot” or less than and instead choose gratitude, the view that life is a gift and I have the power to make it amazing, and to increase my compassion for others since we ALL have strengths and weaknesses. Personal and spiritual growth work helps me feel whole.
I believe in the saying “When you expose a secret to the light, it dies, versus keeping it in the dark where it will grow.”Just as the “cracked pot” broke its silence by bravely admitting its shame about its perceived years of failure to the water carrier, I have found personally and professionally that when secrets are disclosed to compassionate ears, they lose their power and are put in a more accurate perspective. So, a huge part of the therapy process is (if you choose) exposing your greatest struggles to the “light” an empathic individual in order to liberate yourself from the shame about being less than perfect, possibly even find the hidden gifts in your imperfections, and step up as an equal in personal and professional relationships
One surprising “Aha!” moment I had in reflecting on the “Cracked Pot” story is that I realized that this story has another equally important character the “perfect pot”may need as much help from “water carrier” if only the “perfect pot” could admit what it’s really feeling on the inside. See, on the outside,The perfect pot was PROUD of its ability to fulfill the purpose for which it had been made” which leads us to believe that only the “cracked pot” struggles in life. Yet, “perfect pots” can be “cracked pots” in disguise have a different set of issues. Perfectionists struggle because “when you try to achieve the impossible, you set yourself up for failure. You can’t feel good about yourself when you constantly feel that you aren’t measuring up” (Bria Simpson, author of The balanced mom).
I wonder what the perfect pot might have said to the water carrier if it was as vulnerable and brave as the cracked pot? Perhaps it would have expressed a longing to do something more interesting or challenging than the same job day after day that it had already mastered, but was afraid to make change for fear of appearing less than perfect? Or, maybe it would have said, “In spite of my outward success and beautiful appearance, I am not content or at peace at all on the inside. How can I experience this?” Or, “I have relationship issues because my perfectionist standards for others or just myself drive people crazy.”
The “Perfect Pot’s” therapy process taking off the veneer (since no one is perfect), and asking themselves honestly, “Who am I?”, “Who do I want to be?”, and allowing themselves the opportunity to try and fail (in other words- LEARN!) or succeed at something their intuition wants them to pursue. These perfect pots in recovery” also heal and grow from learning how to laugh at themselves, change their standards to “good enough” for most goals in life, and accept that underneath, we are ALL shades of color- from the lightest to the darkest, and this is human.
Therapy is for the faint of heart, yet the rewards are immense because we discover our ability to heal ourselves within the context of a supportive relationship. By being courageously vulnerable and real, like the “cracked pot”, you too can discover your hidden gifts, by connecting with your authentic self like the “perfect pot”, you can discover your true nature. both types of people will develop stronger connections with the people they love.
Wholeness, not perfection, is the goal I aspire to reach. Wholeness is: continually taking an honest inventory of myself and my relationships and being able to see things as they really are. Wholeness is also fully accepting myself and others with our cracks and perfectionism,choosing to transcend my limitations and celebrate my unique gifts.
If you would like help in fully accepting yourself, discovering your hidden gifts, and letting go of perfectionism, Contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage & Family Therapy at 720.432.5262, [email protected], or schedule a free consultation or appointment here.