Social Media. NPR. CNN. FOX News. Fake news. We’ve got it all. We have it all, and we have it all. of. the. time. It’s precarious moments right now in our world as we watch and wait for the “experts” to tell us all the things: how we feel, how we should feel, what’s happening, what’s great about what’s happening, what’s terrible about what’s happening, what’s right for us, what’s wrong for us – not to mention that it remains unclear who is behind declaring such very good-no-good-terrible-good-and-bad things.
Who is behind it all? Perhaps that whole “the-world-is-listening-to-us” mentality is not so far-fetched (Alexa, Siri, Echo, anyone?). When you’re faced with a choice or an existential struggle in your life, doesn’t it appear that these kinds of stories pop up on your feed? Or all of a sudden, it’s the only topic your moms group or coworkers can talk about? If a news story pertains to whatever you are going through, do you find yourself believing it to be true? Likewise, if acquaintances, friends, or family are speaking to it well then it has to be true … right?
Much of the media outlets today appear to position themselves from a blame-game perspective. What’s the “blame-game” you ask? Consider that our major broadcasts are supposedly set up to fuel us with accurate information and direction (on health, finances, politics, etc). But what seems to happen instead is that rather than feeling secure and on course, we’ll spiral into a rabbit hole of self-doubt as the plethora of information contradicts one another via other news programs and websites – or more deeply: our values, opinions, and emotions.
So where are we actually supposed to look for the answers?
Many clients I work with struggle with this kind of answer seeking – the “right” way to perform – as many of us often do. They are women running their own businesses who are receiving negative feedback on the kind of energy they exhibit to get things accomplished. They are men questioning how they respond emotionally to difficult experiences based on society’s views of masculinity. They are millennials who feel confident in where they want to end up in life but remain confused about how to get there. They are mothers losing confidence in themselves because of the conflicting expectations of surrendering independence to take care of the family, while maintaining a flawless representation of her appearance.
Feels like we are stuck.
Feels like we are in a holding pattern.
Feels like our inner critic shines.
Feels as if we are juggling twenty pins in the air while seated on a unicycle that’s meandering a tightrope, all the while these pins which represent dreams and curiosities about life weigh greatly, and the only net underneath us is a porous bed of culturally-shaming perfectionism. ALL of which illuminates obnoxiously from our televisions, smart phones, and Bluetooth speakers! Phew! How tiring!
So where are we actually supposed to look for the answers?? How do we achieve this perfection?
Brené Brown speaks to it like this: “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
Oh, okay, so the question really becomes who do I need to blame for all of the wrong answers in my life? Nah, probably not that simple. Besides – we don’t really want to turn this post into a blame-game. Let’s not get caught in the rabbit hole.
Step out of the cycle.
Open up to possibilities and accept that not all of them are meant for you.
Climb down from the circus act and kindly walk away from others’ assumptions about what you need to do with your life. Away from those damn “shoulda-coulda-wouldas.”
Answers may come to you as you develop stillness. You can be the freedom from your addictive plea for perfection.
Turning inward becomes our greatest gift. As you were reading the post so far, any head nods? Any validation of your experiences? Can we recognize that media is not all good, but not all bad, either?
We must learn at some point to shut things off. Electronics need rebooting to rethink, and humans do as well. Which is why when someone struggling with insomnia finds that daily functioning quickly dwindles. We can blame the lack of sleep for a time, but how about moving the focus to inner strengths, shifting support for our nervous system to respond with ‘rest and digest?’ Our world is in such a need to slow things down, to trust that our minds and hearts and bodies can actually build up intuitive skills that limit negative consumption of materials, and instead lean into that which feels most comfortable based on our needs.
Meditation. Breathwork. Moving your body gently (think simple joint flexion and extension in ankles, wrists). Be with yourself in present moments to connect to your inner voice who doesn’t seek blame or aim to hurt. To connect with the voice that at first doesn’t seem to know, but as you sit with yourself reveals more about who you are and who you are not.
You can discover for yourself what answers lie within after all. Even on your cloudiest of days, in the blur of media overwhelm and reporting frenzies. If you take a step back in the technological ‘hokey pokey’ of sorts – I think we can figure out what it’s all about. Give yourself permission to not be perfect.