Does any of this sound familiar?
"I'd rather not do something than do it wrong."
“I expect a lot myself.”
“I know I could've done that better.”
There are a million variations on this sentiment and I hear them from my clients and other women that I talk to constantly. These statements might sound fine at first pass, but I know from experience that, most of the time, what these women are really saying to me is that they have a rabid inner critic on steroids and that things like perfectionism and comparison are devouring them from the inside out.
Putting constant pressure on yourself to do and be more is a by-product of our toxic culture. It’s also a one-way ticket to exhaustion, anxiety and just generally being miserable. And it’s not the only way to succeed – in fact, it rarely leads to success in the long-term.
Here’s the truth: being hard on yourself makes it more difficult for you to reach your goals, be creative and just generally be the person you want to be. It turns YOU into another obstacle that you have to overcome.
We call it beating yourself up for a reason. Constantly setting the bar out of reach and then berating yourself for not reaching it has real consequences. It keeps you from accomplishing the shit you set out to do, not to mention putting a dent in your health and happiness – and no wonder. If you’re internally battering and bruising yourself, how reasonable is it to expect to do anything well?
Just for clarification, I’m not on a high horse here pretending I’ve never participated in the high expectations Olympics. I wasted more than a decade of my life being paralyzed by anxiety and inaction, much of it brought about by my perfectionism and those expectations. The tiny space I’d boxed myself into had lots of demands on me but it didn’t have much room to breathe, expand or grow. I didn’t break the cycle until I learned another way of doing things.
What if, instead of pushing yourself, you were kind to yourself? What if you cut yourself some slack and tried some self-compassion? What if you set reasonable, achievable expectations and then rewarded yourself for meeting them or forgave yourself for not meeting them?
I can already hear some of you thinking that you’d never get anything done that way. But the truth is, you’d be surprised at how much time, energy and creativity can be freed up when you let yourself off of the hook.