Kylee left the dance studio in tears last night. She was upset because she was attempting a new genre of dance and said she simply, “could not do it right.” I know formerly in her training there was quite a bit of technique involved but to an untrained eye–I thought it looked beautiful. That said, she vehemently disagreed and explained how inadequate she felt. Her inner critic was working overtime and her level of drama was uncharacteristically off the charts.
I took a breath…because in that “mom moment” I have found my words often seem (ahem) unhelpful. After I shared what I had observed, but was not heard, I encouraged her to ask her instructor for additional feedback. A small inner nudge reminded me of Kylee’s past experiences choreographing several dances for her school musicals and so I attempted to slide through the tiny crack left in the window of communication before it was slammed shut. I asked Kylee if after only one demonstration of a new dance if she expected her students to “nail” it? I asked her if after only one class if she expected her students to have all the right moves–especially students who were new to a particular style of dance? Of course she said no. I then followed and asked her what she might tell those students if they were frustrated and didn’t feel like they had done it “right”? She said she would encourage them to go home and practice–and that she would revisit the phrase the following week. I knew this would be her response and so I asked her if she might be willing to extend that same kind of compassion and grace upon herself?
She wasn’t sure she could…her standards are high…higher than any instructor at her studio…higher than possibly she can ever fully actualize*.
Upon further reflection I began to personally dig a little deeper. I wondered: Do I ask more of my children than is reasonable? Do I simply encourage them to be fully present and engage with full effort…or am I expecting something more…even unreasonable…something they cannot and should not strive for? I felt like the answer was most often “no” to obvious, overt, or spoken expectations. My internal dialogue continued: “Am I kind to MYSELF? Do I hold standards of perfection over my own life…or am I harsh in the way I speak to my body or soul? Would I extend more grace to others in the areas I am personally struggling or have doubt?” This rang a little more true. I realized I needed to quiet those inner critics and be more tender on the daily. Not only does Kylee need to know her value, worth and identity. I need to love, cherish, speak kindness and grace over my own life just as I am asking Kylee to do these things over hers.
I realized–(and I asked Kylee’s permission)–this story was worth sharing with others. Are we being overly critical of ourselves or others? Are we in an attempt for excellence pushing perfection in places it doesn’t belong? I know that this may sound simpler then it actually is…patterns are difficult to break. But raising our awareness does wonders–and if that still small voice was able to remind me of Kylee’s belovedness, then I am pretty sure that same still small voice might be able to speak love and truth over you. Friend, how valuable and worthy you are…your “rightness” does not make you okay…your belovedness does. You are loved beyond measure.
*I realized through this conversation that I was speaking to elements of Kylee’s Enneagram 1 typology and my 1 wing.
Anne Lamott reminds us, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.”
Ian Cron tells us that in The Road Back to You, “healthy ones are committed to a life of service and integrity. They are balanced and responsible and able to forgive themselves and others for being imperfect. They are principled but patient with the processes that slowly but surely make the world a better place.”
I love the idea that more self awareness will produce self compassion for our lives and the lives of those around us.
May we rise today, be honest with our Inner Critic, tell her she may have been helpful in the past, but she is a little too jarring for our mind, body and spirit. And we will not continue to need her services. May Self Compassion be a new voice we welcome to the conversation and may she steer the ship from this day forward. Onward!
(I love this photo by the way–the girls are fully present, engaging with full effort…but there is joy, there is a freedom, and this is what I desire for my life and yours!)
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Kind to Yourself and Others…