When we are in a season where just about everything feels like a struggle, it’s normal (and healthy even!) to reflect on our past in search for explanations about why we think, feel and act the way we do. After all, everything we’ve ever been through has brought us to this exact moment.
However, in the process it’s easy to begin to cast blame – whether on ourselves, our parents or on situations that were out of our control. At that point, the judgment you are bringing into it can begin to weigh you down (and I'd ask, how does that serve you?).
All of us have a past, and some of us are still deeply wounded by what’s happened to us. But here's the thing, while awareness around how our past impacts us is critical, judgment is optional.
They way I see it, there are a few different ways to look at things: 1) we can adopt a victim mentality (consciously or not) by focusing on what we can’t control, 2) we can focus on how we can learn and grow from our experiences or 3) we can use our experience to give life to other people who are also struggling.
In other words, you can say:
Life happens to me.
Life happens for me.
Life happens through me.
Do you feel the difference in reading those? That’s some powerful stuff!
What if the difficult childhood or circumstance isn't holding you back but setting you up? Setting you up for making a meaningful impact on the people around you – everyone from the person in the cubicle next to you to the lonely mom in your neighborhood to that difficult person in your life. Who better to speak encouragement into pain than a person who’s walked through the same situation and come out the other side? Think of the hope you can offer to someone. And this world desperately needs hope.
So I ask you, what is the opportunity in your story?
Here's what I’ve decided to do with mine: I help burned out perfectionists get free from fear so that they can live the life God created them for. I long to help other women break free from cycles of self-judgment and dependence on external validation because it's something I struggled with in the dark for many years.
I was a "high-performer" by the world's standards, but on the inside, I was struggling with anxiety and crippling fear, feeling like I was never enough and it was just a matter of time until I was uncovered as a fraud. I was burning out rapidly, and I was beating myself up for my burnout. "What's wrong with you? Everyone is stressed. Get it together." Sound familiar?
Today, I'm a recovering perfectionist. I still suffer from bouts of anticipatory anxiety, and my fear of making mistakes can be debilitating. Also, I'll be honest, learning to detach from the need for validation - when I've long been translating that as I'm enough and so I'm safe - in the midst of launching a new career has been challenging. I'm growing each day in the face of that fear, letting go of the need for a safety net of praise and learning that I'm the only one who gets to determine my worth.
Every day I'm doing the work by recognizing my perfectionistic patterns, learning to accept what I'm feeling and experiencing, and looking for opportunities to use my healing journey to help others.
Now it's your turn. How do you want to use your story?
Brittany Seabury is a Certified Professional Coach and founder of Flourish Coaching. She helps burned out perfectionists get free from fear so they can live the life they were created for. She is passionate about creating spaces where women can connect with who they are and where God is taking them. To learn more about services offered through Flourish, click here.