This month we’re celebrating the upcoming launch of Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself, a book about taming your inner critic that features 40 stories from Tiny Buddha contributors.
Throughout September, you’ll have a chance to meet some of them through daily interviews here on the blog.
Her contribution for the book focuses on ways to overcome perfectionism.
A little more about Lucy…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your self-love journey.
I am a mother of three young children, author of four women’s non-fiction books, pro-blogger, artist, teacher and contributing editor at a natural parenting magazine.
Listing that just makes me feel tired, but I am also a life-long perfectionist, and believer that, even when I am dropping dead from exhaustion, I am a lazy ass who needs to get her butt in gear.
My internal monologue sticks at “You are not doing enough…” I try to counteract this lovingly on a daily basis. My simplest tool for doing this is my “done” list, rather than “to do” list, which lists everything I have accomplished in the day.
2. Have you ever felt there’s “something wrong with you”? If so, why, and what’s helped you change your perception?
I think there is more wrong with me than right. I’m my own worst critic and struggle to stay the right side of sane on a daily basis. I am someone who always tends to take too much on, in a mad bid to stay sane.
It’s a funny old mix. I have a hundred passions—all leading me in different directions. If I “take it easy” I get miserable pretty fast. I love what I do, and do what I love. But I also live with anxiety, bi-polar, and have three small children in tow.
Sometimes I find myself getting so mad with them and myself for holding me back. But as a massage therapist once said to me, they are what keeps me grounded; without them I’d be spiraling off too far and fast.
3. Have you ever thought something was a flaw only to realize that other people actually appreciate that about you? What was the “flaw”?
Discovering that I was bi-polar a couple of months back was transformative for me. I was so scared of letting people know, it felt like such a big deal. Like how coming out must feel; I was prepared for rejection.
What I was not prepared for was the out-pouring of love toward me. Or the fact that no one was surprised.
Instead, I was getting emails and messages saying that they were glad I had this thing that scared me so much—glad because it was what helped me to do my creative work which they loved so much; glad because I was someone who would be able to share my experiences in managing it creatively and naturally with others; grateful for my giving voice to what is often left unspoken and silent.
5. Complete this sentence: When other people don’t like me, I…
…curl up in a ball and cry. I’d love to have some big clever answer, but it’s true.
6. What are some areas in your life where you’ve compared yourself to other people, and what’s helped you let go of these comparisons?
Oh, I’m good at the comparison thing. Most especially when it comes to mothering, and tidy houses. I get my knickers in such a knot about my house being a mess—and how it shouldn’t be.
I know that for someone who does the amount I do, who has three little kids and struggles with health issues that I need to let this go, but I feel so judged, as though not living in a show home makes me some sort of moral failure.
I make no apologies that I prefer painting pictures or writing books to cleaning my house, but I feel I should.
8. Have you ever felt afraid to show people your “real” self? Why—and what’s helped you move beyond that?
This is something I’ve really struggled with. I’ve always felt a bit odd, different to “normal” people, a feeling that was certainly reinforced by childhood bullies. I really tried to be normal and keep my weird bits under wraps.
It’s something I really had to get out of the way in order to be able to publish my first book Moon Time. Not only was it my first book, and self-published, but it was on the menstrual cycle—not the easiest conversation starter!
But here’s the thing: in order to write it, I had to get over myself as flawed, deeply embarrassing, and requiring hiding away. I had to be open, and honest. Getting over myself was part of the process of writing it.
The same with starting to paint again and having my first professional exhibition. I felt totally vulnerable and exposed doing this, but that was part of the process.
The myth is that you get your confidence first and then you live your dream. The truth is that you do your dream, feeling scared, becoming it all the time. And through it you become your dream, you become the you, out loud, that you’ve always been hiding from, and hiding from others.
It’s an immense act of courage. It feels like you’re going to die. But instead you come out the other side freer.
9. What are the top three things you personally need to do to take good of yourself, mentally and emotionally?
What’s helped me most, the past couple of years, is to be able to put “labels” to what I suffer with, rather than me just being a loser.
When I realize that I am managing conditions, then self-care becomes not a luxury but a necessity. Managing my mental health is as vital for me as for a diabetic or an asthmatic managing their condition.
The most important thing for me is knowing when to “stop the lights.” Either I or someone I love waves a flag when things are getting out of control, the panic is rising, and I’m getting overwhelmed, and I stop.
I drop everything go to bed or watch a movie with the kids, postpone appointments, abandon my to-do lists for a few hours, and cull them.
Though everything feels vital and urgent, I stop. Drop everything, and take care of myself: breathe, force myself outside and away from the computer, have a glass of water and do beans on toast for dinner.
The world will keep on turning with me on “go slow” for a few hours. The ego won’t let me believe this, but it will. If I died, it really would keep on turning. So I can die to the world for a few hours, it will all be here in the morning.
10. What’s something you do regularly that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in the world?
Sending out orders of my books and moon dials, and getting emails back from women around the world saying how my words have changed their lives. I will never get tired of that, nor forget what a blessing it is to do my work.
*Note: I edited this post to remove info about the pre-order promotion, which ended on October 8, 2013. You can learn more about Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself here.