A coaching client fired me last week for not listening enough and for being more ‘instructive’ than curious, and a colleague blasted me for being resistant about why I’m experiencing overactive mast cells. Boy howdy, the perfect storm for feeling reactive.

So here’s what I did.

First…I got resistant and reactive. My heart clenched up and I felt like I had done something wrong, and how could that be? My intentions are good and I never want to cause harm. Bookmark that as the first storm warning.

Second, I noticed my feelings and deepened the inquiry. Since I’m pretty vigilant around self awareness, this was especially hard—how could I have missed these things? Second storm warning. Do you see the trend yet? Not getting things right or perfect can spin me out.

Third, I took a deep breath and shared the storm. Instead of Is this true? G suggested I ask How much of this is true? –an important distinction that opens the inquiry. J1 asked what shared truths people are mirroring to me, and J2 brought up my No One Wants Me story and how I resist receiving from others.

Never mind how all that goes together—I’m still sorting it out. Whenever we feel reactive (defensive, resistant, angry, triggered), it’s opportunity for a LOT of things: reflection, recalibrating, asking for help, honesty, and new ways of doing, seeing, and being.

For me, I’m looking at my desire for harmony and perfection. I try super hard to be good, right and all Mary Poppins, and therein lies a trap. What I want to own is imperfection. I am imperfect.

Brené Brown list three Gifts of Imperfection: courage, compassion, and connection. Courage to see your heart and be brave. Compassion because that’s how we learn acceptance. Connection because we need vulnerable, supportive relationships where we can fall apart.

So, being imperfect is a solution to my No One Wants Me story? And being imperfect will help me receive more graciously? And accept myself and others more deeply, especially when we’re at odds?