Do you set high standards for yourself?
It’s not a bad thing. By setting a bar, we can push ourselves to set targets and reach our goals. But sometimes those standards can be so high we might feel like we’re failing every day. It might sound dramatic, but here’s how I know:
Over the last ten months I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of people. They’ve attended virtual workshops and classes where they’ve been keen to learn new ways of navigating life and managing anxiety during COVID-19 and beyond. But one thing that’s telling, is the number of people who think that somehow they’re getting that wrong. Even when they do something they’re pleased about, those feelings of doubt still find their way in.
I’m talking about perfectionism, the feelings we get when we second guess how good we are or think we’re not measuring up. Some people argue that striving to be perfect motivates them, it helps them feel proud and accomplished – which is good as long as that’s all it does. But when it makes you feel bad about yourself, like you’re not good enough, it’s not perfectionism that’s driving you – it’s something else, like fear.
Fear of not fitting in.
Of being left behind.
Of not belonging.
This doesn’t just apply to work. It’s the parent who knows a lot about life but still feels they’re failing at home schooling. It’s the person who thinks they’re a rubbish friend because they have no energy to engage in yet another Zoom quiz. If this is you right now, you’re definitely not alone.
So here’s something that might help:
This week, maybe give yourself permission to Lower the Bar. Reduce some of the tension from thinking you have to have all your ducks in a row; genuinely no one does right now, no matter how many pictures of banana bread they’re posting on Facebook. If you recognise you’ve been pushing yourself too hard to be perfect lately, remind yourself that sometimes good enough is enough. If your child is fed and smiling, you’re winning. Just for this week, acknowledge that your friends know where you are if they need you.
Challenge yourself when perfectionism kicks in – why does it have to be perfect? Drop the comparisons, and instead look for evidence each day that you’re living life by your values, the things that matter most to you; if you are then that’s perfect. Mindfulness can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed and it’s ok to engage in self-care to bring you back to centre.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2021