Having coffee with an influential woman in my life the other day had some food for thought tossed on the table. She said that people see me as ‘near perfect’, and that it could possibly hold them back from connecting. I was surprised to hear this feedback, because I have a messy life, but it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it.
Several years ago I was working with a Spiritual teacher in California on an exercise around intimacy (meaning allowing people to see into me, into-me-see). I failed the exercise miserably. The teacher said, “I agree. When you show up, you’re still ten steps back, and although magnificent from there, people can’t feel you.” I was shocked by this feedback, and remember sleeping like a baby that night (went to bed early, cried all night, woke up early crying some more). I was a mess to learn this about myself, but it was true, and I grew from it.
Up until that time, I’d mastered the art of allowing people to see what I wanted them to see. With the outer mask and energetic wall I’d erected, my image seemed to be quite controllable. Or at least that’s what I thought, until I realized the huge cost for masks and walls. The cost gets paid in connection, or lack of connection. People couldn’t get in, and I couldn’t get out.
A common example of masks is seen in all media. Social media posts have people staging their best photos, best times and put their best announcements up for all to see, which masks the big picture of their life. Print media and magazine images are touched up, teeth are whitened, blemishes removed etc. etc.
Another example of masking is noticeable in the workplace. People wear masks to seem perfect in their roles or attain promotions. They dress the part, and presto! They feel like they’re half way there, but it doesn’t take long for those who work with them to get the ‘real read’, because we can’t hide our energy.
The most important question I think we need to ask is “What’s wrong with messy?” Or what’s wrong with real, authentic, genuine ways of being, of which imperfection is big part? Ego isn’t nearly as attractive as authenticity, intimacy and vulnerability. Take off the masks, and tear down the walls, and let people feel the real deal.
I want to ask anyone who hasn’t reached out to me because they thought I was unapproachable, or they couldn’t feel me, to try again. My life is messy. It’s nowhere near ‘perfect’, thank God! Perfect is way too much work. The verb (to perfect) is good planning and good use of our time, but we all have ‘stuff’. If you’re looking at someone who seems better than you are in some way, just remember that you are only seeing the surface. You have no idea what’s really going on, and how messy one’s life can be, nor does it even matter. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let your joy be stolen by the idea that someone else has a near-perfect life. We are all on this earth for growth, and we grow most during the tough times.
I now celebrate the messes in my life because without them I wouldn’t be able to inspire others with my own experiences. My toughest lessons have brought me wisdom, humility, strength and made me more able to relate to others. If I could wave my magic wand I wouldn’t change my past. There’s some very important relationships that I wish were better, but the messiness is part of who I am, where I’m going and how I can serve people in the future.
The best way to enrich our lives is to accept and love ourselves, and hope to get messy often enough.
Tremblay Leadership Center
Corporate Training, Coaching, Personal and Professional Development
Here’s a fitting testimonial: If I could offer a suggestion…although your site is very informative and pleasing to the eye….I was initially a little concerned your approach may be more of a business/corporate style….but you are very personal and intimate and genuine in your style and I think that should be somehow represented on your site so folks realize you can and will do small groups; specifically First Nations groups as your style is very fitting for our People and don’t be reluctant to draw on that and target First Peoples agencies and organizations. You have left a lasting impression and your mentors and teachers have nothing on you…..your style is infectious and unique unto you! Be well, J. Mattson