I picked the right day for this. A grey rainy day on a Monday morning. But I am inspired. From my window I see intense red blossom against the dreary backdrop. The intensity is so strong you might be distracted from what is framing the picture.
I have a confession to make. I am a perfectionist. The benefit of perfectionism is that you will likely go the extra mile for outstanding results. The Dark Side to Perfectionism (or any ISM) is tragic levels of underachievement because deep down you are afraid that you are not as perfect as you think you should be. [Most ISMs are in place because we are playing against ourselves on some level.]
As a short term strategy, perfectionism paid off. My last project rocked, it changed people’s lives. Achievements that are meaningful – better than sex. But in the long term, I burnt out. There came a certain day in June 2012, when I had a pain in my chest and found it difficult to walk home. One of my participants emailed me later that day that she really thought I should cross the road more quickly as my pace was dangerously slow.
I realised I had reached the end of a road.
I decided to grab the bull by the horns: get underneath the burnout, the perfectionism, the self-sabotage, the low-level depression, the subtle martyrdom (especially financial) and the overwhelm… oh the overwhelm. I was fed up of being a social entrepreneur that was yet again broke, exhausted and with no social life. Yes, ecstatic about my contribution to the world. But miserable about my personal situation. Really, underneath it all – miserable. I finally admitted it to myself.
It’s the good part of the story! I made the decision right there and right then, that I would never again do something that did not come from a whole place. But first I had to recover on a personal level.
But with much less to do… without the comfort of “the answers” yet and my physical, mental and emotional spiritual defences down, I was a sitting duck for all the remaining internal baggage. Quite soon, depression set in. I have a way of thinking about depression. For all intents and purposes, for anyone that has been in this situation (identified as depressed), you have an enemy. The problem is that this enemy is on the inside, you don’t quite realise its there, and it is difficult to realise the extent of its presence. It goes everywhere you go. It is vicious, extremely subtle and will take you out. Unless you are quite aware of the insidious nature of depression, you are F****D. The fantastic news is that as you become aware, you can gradually return to normal living in which you are not your own worst enemy.
Something was not right in my foundations. I decided to go hunting for the missing pieces of my life.
18 tough months of work followed which included: Continue reading