What's Your Cave?
One of my favorite kids’ movies is The Croods. It’s a movie about a caveman named Grug and his family. The dad is the patriarch and protector and in true protector fashion, uses his fear of everything “new” to keep his family safe. Fear is a healthy emotion we feel that does keep us alive, but when it is out of balance, it actually robs us of life’s adventure, wonder and peace.
The Croods is a depiction of moving from living in crippling fear that causes mistrust of everything to creativity, openness and abundance. In one scene, Grug and the family destroy a beautiful shell because it is new. The daughter, who represents openness and curiosity, is saddened and angered by their inability to at least give it a chance before blindly crushing the shell. How many times do we judge something new as “bad” because we are afraid to let go of a preconceived notion and be open to see if we might like the new better than the old?
In another scene, they see fire for the first time and are afraid, then it turns to intrigue and eventually a hilarious disaster. But that little spark of dawning, of light, starts to open them to possibility. Grug resists the new until he finally sees the full light at the end and decides on trying the “new” versus living in fear. I love that in an hour and a half you can watch a man go from living scared and in scarcity to living in freedom and abundance. A friend once said to me, “once you turn the light on, you don’t turn off the light. You couldn’t even turn it off if you wanted to. “ No one wants to live in the dark.
The dark is our fear, shame, guilt and thoughts of not being enough. We wrap it around us like a cave and it keeps us from venturing out and trying new things that could bring us joy, love and community. Once we have been hurt, we fear being hurt again. But that fear robs us from fun and passion.
For me, I disguised my fear in perfectionism. Perfectionism sounds so much more romantic and noble than fear. But really, all it did was keep myself afraid of not being perfect at everything, holding me back from trying to do something new because maybe I wouldn’t be wonderful at it. I think as children we receive so much positive reinforcement for being good at things that for some of us (me) it leads us to only wanting to do things that give us that reinforcement. If you couple that with a love language of “words of affirmation,” you have the recipe for a perfectionist.
I often tell clients and friends that I am a recovering perfectionist. As I started branching out from my comfort zone, I put a blonde woman on a paddle board in the middle of my vision board to remind me to try something new and be brave. I am happy to say that I have paddle boarded and even tried a headstand on my board. Yes, I fell. And yes, we all had a good laugh, but I tried it. I wanted my girls to see that I tried, not that I did it perfectly. It was fun!
I wonder how many exciting things I missed out on trying to be perfect, like snow skiing when I was younger or dancing ballet as an adult (I may still give that a go) or new forms of art. I want to try it all now, well, maybe not skiing because I am not a fan of the cold, but who knows. The point is, we have to try something new to grow.
To be honest, writing this blog feels a little scary to me. My inner critic and perfectionist that I try to keep in check feels a bit vulnerable sharing my thoughts. But, then I think, what if one person feels encouraged by my perspective and says, “I choose to grow.” Well, to me, that would be worth taking the risk of someone thinking I wasn’t a perfect writer. If a seed stayed a seed and never pushed out of its shell, there wouldn’t be any flowers. Spring is a great time to push out of your comfort zone and try something new, to let go of your cave and venture into the sunlight.