livelovelearn.comI have tried to write the final post in my Food: Friend or Frenemy series for over two months (it took a solid four months to de-weaponize food and come to peace with it). I lost count of how many times I sat in front of my computer, put my hands on the keys, then got up and walked away.

Anxiety is like a pesky fly in the house. At first, it’s annoying but you can deal with it. Then the noisy little sucker starts dive bombing and doing loud flybys and you can’t focus on anything other than getting rid of that damn fly.

I gave myself permission to focus on defusing the anxiety. I knew I wouldn’t be able to figure out the trigger until I got rid of the anxiety.  And sure enough, after two months, and a lot of defusing, I figured out the trigger. It’s a trigger I’ve known about for well over a year but failed to recognize despite it’s familiarity.

Perfectionism.

Brené Brown described perfectionism in Daring Greatly asthe belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Sister Brené continued, “Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.”

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert added more nuance to Brené’s definition. Gilbert wrote about a novelist named Robert Stone who “joked that he possessed the two worst qualities imaginable in a writer: He was lazy, and he was a perfectionist.” She continued, “Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes- but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.”

Liz’s Gilbert’s definition of a lazy perfectionist fits me to a “T.” I know what I write won’t be perfect and may open me up to blame, judgment and shame. So when I sit down to write for the blog my inner lazy perfectionist starts poking my anxiety.

However, the great thing about identifying the trigger is I can develop tools to manage it. One tool I use to deal with my lazy perfectionist tendencies, is an affirmation from Brené Brown.

Unsued creativity is not benign It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.

This quote is so important I made it the wallpaper on my phone.  It serves as a daily (hourly or minute by minute) reminder that expressing my creativity has to be a top priority. Writing is my primary creative outlet. I need it, I crave it. This mantra reminds me that if I don’t express my creativity, it will manifest negatively inside my body. So I have to write. I have to create. What I write may not be perfect or right or even good. But it’s me. And I’m trying.

 

 

 

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