Weighty Matters

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It Occurs to Me . . .

on July 5, 2012

. . . that I’m really hard on myself sometimes.   I’m sort of a sporadic perfectionist.  Marti, who comments here sometimes, and I have known each other about 50 years.  She has said that I’m a type-A personality.  I don’t normally cite Wikipedia as a valid source, but this appears to be a pretty accurate description of Type A:  “. . .ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.”

Type B people are supposedly the “. . . perfect contrast to those with Type A personalities. People with Type B personalities are generally apathetic, patient, relaxed, easy-going, no sense of time schedule, having poor organization skills, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency.

Based on this I’m more A- / B+.  I can be very laid back and procrastinate with the best or worst of them.  I’m organized in my own fashion when it comes to tasks and projects, but my office overfloweth with piles of unfiled papers.  Status conscious?  Not so much.  Low resistance for dithering — absolutely.  Apathetic?  Rarely. High achiever — at least in the workforce.  And so on and so on.

I do know that I have more patience with someone else’s screw ups than I do with my own.  It’s like it’s okay for someone else to be human and make mistakes, but I don’t tolerate it so much in myself.  I’ve written before about my less than stellar performance in college, but when I graduated and went to work I was super responsible, productive and driven to be the best copywriter that radio station had ever hired.

Even before that, when I was a teenager and we had some issues at home with ill grandparents, my mom developing alcoholism, and other stuff, I had the reputation as a champion coper.  No matter what, I could handle it.

I’m proud of the job that I do and always, always, always want to do it to the best of my ability — and I consider my ability to be pretty high up the scale.

So it puzzles me how I could not drive myself to achieve a healthy weight for most of my life.    I wonder if, deep in my subconscious, overeating became my outlet.  Perhaps when I was a teenager, instead of always being proud that I could cope so well, my folks should have stopped and said, “But is it fair to ask her to cope with so much?”

On top of the Type-Aish overachieving stuff, remember that I also battled horrid body image and low self-esteem.  I think to some extent, I used overeating and being fat as a way to invalidate myself.   It occurs to me that the self-esteem issue made it a challenge to accept my strengths, creative abilities, and successes.  The same time that I was working so hard to measure up, inside a fearful side of me worked to demonstrate that I never would manage the task.

Thinking too highly or too little of ourselves isn’t healthy.  Balance and objectivity about our qualities — both positive and negative — keeps us on an even keel.  It’s good to take responsibility in appropriate measures, but harmful to beat ourselves up over less than optimal results or situations.  I’m not saying that we should be egotistical and arrogant, but at some point in our lives we should own that which is fabulous about ourselves.

Several years ago, I was introduced to a quote by Marianne Williamson.  (At the time, it was attributed to Nelson Mandela.)  It reads:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It occurs to me that I need to study on this some more and find that balance.   It’s okay to be imperfect.  It’s perfectly okay to not beat ourselves up over it.

One response to “It Occurs to Me . . .

  1. Skye says:

    I just read this exact quote in my book by Brene Brown from the e-class on shame, love, and worthiness! (The book is titled I Thought It Was Just Me.)

    I believe I suffer from this to some extent. I had a boss who penalized me when I worked to my capacity and who gave me better reviews when I slacked off. When I got a short story published, something at least half of my co-workers longed to do, I became more disconnected with my co-workers. I think I threatened their beliefs that they couldn’t write and hold down a full-time job. I did several things that I wanted to do, including travel and taking a full-time six-week writing course, being willing to use up all my leave and taking unpaid leave for the rest — and being willing to quit my job if they balked about my following any of those dreams. So I ended up an outsider within my own department.

    I think that many of us hide our light because we don’t want to threaten others and risk disconnection and not belonging. And I think others don’t even look for their light because it would invalidate what they believe life is.

    You, Mary Stella, have a brilliant light. You shine it here. You have shined it over at my blog. Like a very old song said, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

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