All the reviews I’ve seen and read on the Oscar ceremony have focused on the confusion that surrounded the Best Picture award, but it seems to me that we’ve missed a great chance here to say something important about failure and mistakes.
In Western societies, many of us fall prey to the cultural message of perfection. We’re told to do better, try harder, ‘be the best you can be’. Whatever happened to the idea that you’re ok already, just as you are? This constant push towards perfection and the inextricably linked feeling of low self-esteem (‘I’m not good enough’) includes the idea that mistakes are not acceptable. Hence the outcry and apparent need for an inquiry over the Oscars’ white envelope mistake.
An inquiry? For a simple mistake over two sets of envelopes?
What if everyone had followed the line taken by Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight, the movie that won Best Picture? He said that it was just ‘a human error’ and “It just happens. We’re human beings, you know? We’re not perfect.”
He’s right. It’s ok to make mistakes. As humans, we’re bound to make mistakes, in fact. We can’t avoid them, because we’re not robots, programmed to just do a few things, perfectly. We’re complex living beings who will make mistakes and fail from time to time. We’re not perfect. And that’s ok.
Moonlight is a film that teaches us compassion, and I’m happy to follow its director’s line. It’s good to let our mistakes go, and move past them with forgiveness, not self-recrimination.
PS If you find yourself struggling with anxiety over the idea of failure or making mistakes, there’s a mind-changing speech at the Insight Meditation Centre, Redwood City, California on the benefits of failure.
This insightful post from Let’s queer things up explains why and how happiness can trigger anxiety in people with a history of developmental trauma. If happiness was often the precursor to a storm of verbal or physical abuse in your childhood, happiness and joy will have become associated in your mind, and you may find that it’s just when you’re most happy that you begin to feel really anxious. (Thank you, LQTU!)
Being happy makes me a little crazy. And if you’ve ever thought you were the only one, I assure you – it’s actually a really common thing.
via Let’s Talk About Self-Sabotage. — Let’s Queer Things Up!
The ACoA World Service Organisation have identified some of the likely traits that we’ll suffer from if we grew up in a family where one or both parents were alcoholics. They call this list of traits the ‘reverse’ laundry list, to reflect its affinity with the AA laundry list.
It can make heartbreaking reading, but – as they say in ACoA – it’s good to remember that this is a description, not an indictment. If you’re reading the list and see some truths in it for you, please keep reading, because below the descriptions of how you may be thinking, feeling and acting now is another list – which shows the way to feeling safe and truly empowered. It takes bravery, but if this list means something to you, you’ve already proved that you have bravery in spades.
Here’s the ‘reverse’ laundry list:
- To cover our fear of people and our dread of isolation we tragically become the very authority figures who frighten others and cause them to withdraw.
- To avoid becoming enmeshed and entangled with other people and losing ourselves in the process, we become rigidly self-sufficient. We disdain the approval of others.
- We frighten people with our anger and threat of belittling criticism.
- We dominate others and abandon them before they can abandon us or we avoid relationships with dependent people altogether. To avoid being hurt, we isolate and dissociate and thereby abandon ourselves.
- We live life from the standpoint of a victimizer, and are attracted to people we can manipulate and control in our important relationships.
- We are irresponsible and self-centered. Our inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance prevents us from seeing our deficiencies and shortcomings.
- We make others feel guilty when they attempt to assert themselves.
- We inhibit our fear by staying deadened and numb.
- We hate people who “play” the victim and beg to be rescued.
- We deny that we’ve been hurt and are suppressing our emotions by the dramatic expression of “pseudo” feelings.
- To protect ourselves from self punishment for failing to “save” the family we project our self-hate onto others and punish them instead.
- We “manage” the massive amount of deprivation we feel, coming from abandonment within the home, by quickly letting go of relationships that threaten our “independence” (never get too close).
- We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors.
We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.
And the path to recovery…
- We face and resolve our fear of people and our dread of isolation and stop intimidating others with our power and position.
- We realize the sanctuary we have built to protect the frightened and injured child within has become a prison and we become willing to risk moving out of isolation.
- With our renewed sense of self-worth and self-esteem we realize it is no longer necessary to protect ourselves by intimidating others with contempt, ridicule and anger.
- We accept and comfort the isolated and hurt inner child we have abandoned and disavowed and thereby end the need to act out our fears of enmeshment and abandonment with other people.
- Because we are whole and complete we no longer try to control others through manipulation and force and bind them to us with fear in order to avoid feeling isolated and alone.
- Through our in-depth inventory we discover our true identity as capable, worthwhile people. By asking to have our shortcomings removed we are freed from the burden of inferiority and grandiosity.healing heart
- We support and encourage others in their efforts to be assertive.
- We uncover, acknowledge and express our childhood fears and withdraw from emotional intoxication.
- We have compassion for anyone who is trapped in the “drama triangle” and is desperately searching for a way out of insanity.
- We accept we were traumatized in childhood and lost the ability to feel. Using the 12 Steps as a program of recovery we regain the ability to feel and remember and become whole human beings who are happy, joyous and free.
- In accepting we were powerless as children to “save” our family we are able to release our self-hate and to stop punishing ourselves and others for not being enough.
- By accepting and reuniting with the inner child we are no longer threatened by intimacy, by the fear of being engulfed or made invisible.
- By acknowledging the reality of family dysfunction we no longer have to act as if nothing were wrong or keep denying that we are still unconsciously reacting to childhood harm and injury.
- We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.
Thank you to Donna Torbico at Heal and Grow for ACoAs for drawing my attention to this list, and for all her great blogs.
I recently saw a great idea from author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) that encourages giving thanks and acknowledging the positive in our day. She suggests getting a jar of some sort and taking a couple of minutes to write down the happiest moment of your day. Taking a moment to do this allows you to slow down and actually appreciate something from each and every day. It doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering or a standout moment. The happiest part of your day might be sharing a laugh with a friend, or maybe it’s being the first one up in a quiet house. Maybe the happiest moment is grabbing a cup of coffee that gives you the energy to get through the day. I love this idea because it is about finding something special in a completely ordinary moment.This is also a great reframing exercise. Honestly, life is hard and there are some days that are just really shitty. Often within the tough moments we can find moments of gratitude or peace if we choose to look for them. This isn’t about pretending life is perfect or that the tough stuff doesn’t happen, it is just about choosing to find good moments even amongst the chaos.Throughout the year you get to see the notes piling up. On days that are feeling particularly tough, being able to read through your notes might give some strength to keep pushing forward. I can’t think of a better keepsake at the end of the year as you reflect on what your year was like. It’s easy to get caught up and let big moments define our year (both good and bad), but this exercise is a reminder that it is the small things that can bring absolute joy.Danielle
Source: The Happiness Jar