Today’s big idea is that the things about you that don’t fit an image of perfection are actually a source of strength. They are often actually what you’re here to help other people with. Distilled into one catchy phrase, your mess is your message.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
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Here’s what I mean by your mess is your message
We all have things about ourselves that we’re not proud of. Maybe we even feel ashamed of. Could be big, little, or somewhere in between. And perfectionism is a natural outcropping of wanting to compensate for those things.
This is one of the biggest ways perfectionism has shown up for me, and that I continue to tussle with, honestly. It is thoughts that run along the lines of, if I’m not a perfect human, how can I possibly put myself out there as any kind of teacher, leader, or expert?
As a writer of self-help books and now as a host of a self-help podcast, you can see how this is inconvenient
Since I completed my yoga teacher training in 2004, I have felt really called to share what I have learned about how mindfulness, yoga, stress reduction and coaching techniques can help people.
Especially in the beginning when I first started sending out my email newsletters with simple ways to cope with stress, my inner critic would point that that I must be crazy to think that anyone should listen to me because I had done things that I wasn’t proud of–and I’m talking all kinds of things, from stealing a rubber bouncy ball from a store when I was in kindergarten to cheating on a college boyfriend; I was basically keeping a running tally of everything ‘bad’ i had ever done.
Even though I sometimes get an earful from my inner critic about this very thing, typically whenever I’m thinking of starting a new project, I have learned that all the things that you’ve messed up on, and had to come to terms with, and learn to forgive yourself for and deal with and make accommodations for, well, those give you strength.
Those things you’ve done or experienced that make you feel like a bad person can result in feeling like you should need to hide out
Because those struggles mean you’re not a paragon of perfection.
And I’m countering that those things don’t detract from your goodness in any way. In fact, they enrich it.
If you hadn’t struggled in your life, what would you possibly know about how to work with adversity? And how could you truly have empathy for people who are facing challenges themselves?
The truth is, your mess is your message. Your struggles add to your strength. Your imperfections make you the perfect person to help others. Whether you do that as part of your profession or in some other formal role, or whether it’s just something you offer to the people you’re in relationship with.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to think about the things you perhaps got wrong, but that taught you something, and now are an inherent part of what you bring to the table in terms of value. Was it some trouble you got into? Something you did that you regret?
What things come to mind? And then what did those particular things teach you? How do you use that learning in your interactions with others?
In other words, what messes have become part of your message?
If you can see how your past screw ups have contributed to your present strengths, it can help you both share those gifts in a bigger way, and be more forgiving with yourself when you mess up now.
That’s kind of a heavy assignment, I know, but it’s really about making peace with the stuff that feels like it’s weighing you down.
Tomorrow’s episode will help reinforce that by inspiring you to give yourself a role model who embraces their imperfections. I hope you’ll come back, or keep listening.