If I had to pick one or two qualities about myself that I was the most proud of, they probably wouldn’t be what you think. In fact, today’s blog post challenge is about discovering your ‘superpowers’ — the things you are good at and that you enjoy. A nice idea, in theory. Ordinarily, I am ALL about acknowledging yourself, knowing your strengths and giving yourself credit where credit is due. However, the idea of superpowers had me thinking on a totally different track…
One quality I have in spades is that I’m determined. If I really set my mind to something, I don’t give it up easily. If I get knocked down, I get back up again. I listened to Chumbawumba’s ‘Tubthumping‘ for most of 1998 so it’s fairly engrained in my psyche. I’m also an Obliger according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. So, if I give my word, I will absolutely not let you down. Like most teachers, I also care a lot about my students and doing the best for them and making the school (and by extension, the world) a better place. This means that I have been known to volunteer for every extra activity and committee that I could, as well as going the extra, extra mile with the students in my classes. When I am running on focus and productivity and adrenaline, I am really good at overestimating the amount of time and energy I have, and underestimating the amount of time and energy something will take. Sound familiar?
How does this fit into today’s topic? Well, not only am I really GOOD at overcommitting myself, somewhere deep in my mind I actually enjoy it. It makes me feel significant and important and I get a lot of strokes for my ego when I have volunteered to help or gone the extra mile or overcome my body’s messages to complete something ‘on time’.
It’s so good for the ego to be superwoman!
I can do all the things! I put my hand up for everything thinking I have plenty of time, until 3 weeks down the track when I’m sacrificing sleep night after night to complete things. I collapse in a heap from exhaustion and I don’t quit because I don’t want to let you down. Even more insidious, I volunteer and then am so determined to do the best job because a part of me thinks I’m the only one who can do it well. Ooooh, squirmy. Perfectionism wears many masks but as Liz Gilbert says, it’s just fear in fancy clothes. I used to think wanting to make everything good quality no matter what was a good quality but I’ve realised the way I was expressing it was damaging and dangerous. It was making me sick. I call it Superwoman Syndrome.
So I changed the focus of my determination. Over time and a lot of trial and error (because I’m determined), I became just as determined about my self-care as I did about not letting others down. I quit some stuff that I had overcommitted to and used my Obliger tendency on myself by hiring some people to keep me accountable to the things I knew were good for me (so I do them because I don’t want to let them down). I examined that need for significance and perfectionism, and then I let go of beliefs and behaviours that don’t serve me. This has required a lot of sacrifice, and I’m really proud of myself for that. That is difficult work. But I did it! I continue to do it.
You don’t have to be a superhero. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do it all. You can do just some, or none at all. Easier said than done, I know. But you can do it. You can build your muscle for self-care and self-love, patience and compassion. And those, my friends, are the real superpowers.
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 4