For most of my life, I've been guided by a fierce protector: Perfectionism. "If I just get it right, anything and everything, then I am ok... safe from harm". It worked pretty well at school. It worked pretty well at home too. It even seemed to work well with my childhood friends. As long as I got it all right, then everything was fine. No boat was rocked. No color went outside the lines. No one's feathers were ruffled.
Protectors start as a clever response to a tight situation. When they help us out a couple times, they develop into automated patterns that later often limit us. Since perfectionism served me so well as a kid, it stuck around well into adulthood.
I caught glimpses of how it held me back over the years, like when I would be introduced to a new and exciting activity. Anything new meant potentially getting something wrong, so I was inclined to walk away, find a creative exit, add it to my to do list and never ever do it. There was no room for mistakes. No room for failure. No room for not getting it right away. That spelled disaster... danger... not safe.
Somewhere in there was a hurt little girl who kept trying to put order, a sense of rightness, into her chaotic, frightening, and overwhelming world.
When we become aware of our protectors, we are also able to dialog with them. They can tell us why they show up, what role they play, and what they need. In all my years of working with my own and others' protectors, I have yet to encounter one who did not eventually confess to being utterly exhausted and in desperate need of a new way of coping.
Perfectionist-Me, my most revered Protector, was far beyond tired.
Protectors form armoring that hardens our muscles, tightens our connective tissue, congests our lungs and sinuses, and rigidifies our thinking. Metal, the material of which armors are made and the element associated with the autumn season in Chinese medicine, has taught me a great deal about working with protective patterns.
In autumn we get to witness the death of the growing season, the end of a cycle. We also get to witness the subtle beginning of a new cycle, which often starts with observing the spacious absence of what once was. As witnesses to the ebb and flow of life, we find authentic safety, one that is truly aligned with who we are now and what we need now. Not yesterday. Not when we were two or three. But right now.
Whenever "I gotta be right" arises in me, I consciously shift my attention to "I gotta be right now."
I tell Perfectionist-Me that I see her, that I see how hard she's working to protect me, and that I also see the scared little girl behind the shield. With the little girl's hand in mind, we take time to breathe, time to study the present moment, time to see what is truly needed right now and how to go about receiving it. Usually, within a few minutes, I can feel my own Presence again, and experience myself as the okayness in which ok and not-ok arise and dissolve.
If you are working to manage limiting protective patterns like perfectionism, I encourage you to schedule an acupressure session with me. Together we can find the way to understand and honor the protector, release the physical holding, and make room for your authentic self to shine bright like the gem that you are. New to acupressure? Enjoy 10% off your first session (expires Dec 1; discount applied at in-person check out).
Want to learn more about the metal element? Check out these workshops:
YOGA NIDRA & ACUPRESSURE FOR AUTUMN EASE
SUNDAY, NOV 17, 2:00-3:30PM
BLUE HERON WELLNESS
10723-B COLUMBIA PIKE, SILVER SPRING, MD
Sign up now @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-ease.
AUTUMN WORKSHOP: YOGA NIDRA FOR CONNECTING WITH ANIMAL WIT
SATURDAY, NOV 23, 2:00 - 4:00PM
SPECTRUM CENTER FOR NATURAL MEDICINE
8555 16TH STREET, SUITE #402, SILVER SPRING, MD
Sign up now @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-vision-quest.
Plus, enjoy the FREE YOGA NIDRA MEDITATION in the post below!
May we all honor our Protectors and, with their help, reach the shielded parts of ourselves that desperately long for our Presence,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.