3 steps to Letting go of perfection in the fight for equity enclosed
“When you take care of yourself, you’re a better person for others. When you feel good about yourself, you treat others better.” - Solange Knowles
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Since the events of 2020 conversations about racial equity have dominated our news feeds, our group chats, and our social interactions, we have marched, protested, and publicly declared the need for greater equity in this country. Our voices have been loud and strong in telling our stories, sharing our fears, and expressing our hope for the future. But behind those voices, there are people, and our struggle for authentic self-expression and understanding isn’t a year in the making, it is a lifetime. So, as we continue down this road of racial equity, it’s vital that we also tend to the person behind the voice and acknowledge that our activism doesn’t have to be perfect to be powerful.
Very often when we are finally given an opportunity to speak our truth or engage in action in the decades long journey to right a wrong, the pressure to get it right can become overwhelming, and lead to a form of perfectionism that is more harmful than helpful when it comes to our personal health and wellbeing. We put ourselves at risk of becoming everything to everyone with no time for rest, self-care, or reflection. We may wrongly assume that we need to fix a place on the front line and never move from it, for fear that stepping back and tending to our own needs will detract from the importance of the struggle and the progress we have made. As one client who recently completed our training said
“I took away a lot about self-care and the importance of approaching these topics from a place of healing, not a place of defensiveness. I thought Sacred’s HALT definitions were super helpful, and I’ll definitely use these to check-in for the future."
Taking a step back to tend to our needs when we notice perfectionism creeping into our activism is so important. We don’t have to be a 24/7 activist or a perfect person for our needs to matter, for our voices to be heard or for change to happen, and we cannot continue to pour from an empty cup as individuals or as a community. We have experienced the impact of a pandemic and a global movement for equity in a period of 12 months we are allowed to be exhausted, to switch-off, to mourn, to rest, to cry, to laugh, to love and to re-charge for the journey ahead.
Overcoming feelings of perfectionism is a form of activism itself. It’s a way of telling the world that you matter, just as you are, period. Systems of oppression are based on the notion that we somehow must be better than good, we must be perfect, we must work twice as hard, to the detriment of our authenticity, our individuality, and our wellbeing. Taking back the power to decide when, if, and how you show-up is self-love in action. Throwing off the limiting assumption that it only counts if it’s perfect, allows you to walk in our complex, messy, painful, and joyful truth. A truth that encompasses all that we are, and all that we are yet to become.
Do you have a colleague, or would your team benefit from the power of WE (wellness and equity) and our unique approach? We invite you to schedule a meet and greet here: www.meetme.so/buildingkuumbahealthbridges or share this article with a colleague who needs inspiration today.
Sacred Walker and the Kuumba Health Support Team