Letting Go of Pleasing, Performing and Perfectionism
It did not matter how high or long the jump I tried with all my childish might to gain the approval and acceptance of my father. The more disgruntled he became, the harder I tried. I joined the high school debating team, hockey, tennis, netball and swimming teams (I was hopeless at netball). My father was academic, my mother athletic and a ballet dancer. I even tried dancing in primary school; I had the rhythm and a good sense of timing but my body let me down. I was a dumpling.
My addiction to praise and approval found fertile ground in the home of my childhood. I lived in fear that someone would discover how imperfect I was and call me on it, in public. It was painful enough that my birth family were so aware of my failings, heaven forbid I received the same treatment outside the front door. I worried about how anything and everything I said may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Would my tone let me down and I would be thought of as unkind and uncaring, callous even. If I was not happy and smiling all the time, my fear was that others would not want to be around a sad-sack which would prove my father correct because one likes a sad face.
Unlike my father, Mum was not too bothered with my grades. It was good enough for Mum that I was in there having a go, a laugh and enjoying myself. She was more concerned about the way in which my father would speak to me when he got his hands on another report card that read: Linda, could try harder. If she talked less her marks may improve.
One of the most courageous events of my life was when I purchased the one way ticket to Cape Town. One thousand miles away from home. The day I left home, I started to grow and grow and eventually I blossomed. I am a happy and caring person but I do have baggage, even now, that I need to shirk. The try hard behaviours that are so exhausting and the lack of confidence in being able to hold an opinion without having to apologise. In fact living for others and their approval is something I do need to let out the back door.
The obvious message through the Reverb14 journey was that 2015 needs to be a period in which particular behaviours are shown the back door, while other behaviours and perspectives need to be ushered in the front door. Out the back with the bad; in the front with the good! Next year’s Opus Magnum next year will be to let go of the try hard behaviours in my repertoire of How to be the Best Perfectionist Possible. Pretty daunting task but I am up for the challenge. I am so over me giving and everyone else taking. Yes, I have allowed them to take because I have always given and given and given. Frankly, it is exhausting.
I am not saying it is time to turn the tables – although that would be ‘the nice thing to do’ – but if I were to measure the time and effort I put in against the time and effort you put in … then I would have to say you are a consummate taker. Every now and again you do something that has me on my haunches with its audacity. Because I am consumed with hurting your feelings, or appearing grumpy I do not call you out on your audacity. In the nicest way possible things will be different in 2015.
The aspects of my behaviours that I do not like, yet others rely on, are people pleasing, perform, perform and then perform some more, all the while pleasing and performing with perfection. Recent experiences have prepared me for the hard work of letting go. It sounds quite simple. Letting go. One day at a time. Slowly slowly, catchy monkey. But I think I can do this. I really think I can.