The voices inside your head that are cruel, relentless, and oh, how they love to torture you. And me. All the time.
They go like this–based on my own, AND my overhearing of you lovelies:
- I should be more patient with my kids.
- I should be thinner and more toned.
- I should cook more, use all my gorgeous cookbooks this year.
- I should pray more, join a bible study, or do a bible study with my kids.
- I should start my own business or a non-profit.
- I should work less.
- I should take a class or go to grad school.
- I should give up coffee, sugar, white flour, wine and everything that tastes good. (ok, not really but you know what I mean.)
- I should overcome ______( you fill in the blank).
- I should volunteer more.
- I should rest more, slow down a bit.
- I should clean out my closets—all the physical ones and emotional ones.
- I should learn how to garden, grow vegetables, and have chickens.
JUST TO NAME a flipping few. And then there are the Nasty Cousins, “I should have” and “I shouldn’t” that also scream at us for attention. I’m sure you could add to this list of shi*ty shoulds, with all that is floating around in your head. What would you share with me?
We want to be Get-It-Done-Girls, yes! Some shoulds are reasonable and healthy. We are not meant to be so laid back and phlegmatic that we just sit around watching Modern Family (love that show, though…) and eat kale chips (don’t love). It’s when we put SO MANY, MANY shoulds on ourselves at one time. It’s excessive. It’s beyond trying to be our best selves. It’s the “I must be the best-best-best version of myself to be okay with myself (or others) and I will flog myself (the voices in our heads) when I am not.” We dangle our worth or our value or our meritorious contribution to this world based on whether we achieve unrealistic expectations.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it our culture? Social media? Television? Our childhood agreements?
We moms used to blame Martha Stewart and the standards she set for homemaking, cooking, baking, creating, but now we have the bloody Internet and and Pinterest, and everyone posting their seemingly perfect life on Facebook and Instagram.
We are bombarded with advertisements, and how-to’s, and “you, too, can” and online courses, online resources, and lots of motivational and inspirational people out there cheering us on and moving us forward in our pursuits (bless ‘em).
How do we kick the SHOULDS to the curb for 2015? This is the 64 million dollar question for me this year as I truly work towards freedom from perfectionism.
I think it comes down to a simple question: Am I attaching my worth or worthiness to accomplishing A, B, and/or C? If I completed or mastered one of the shoulds, would I then feel worthy or enough?
These incredibly high expectations we place on ourselves, only serve to defeat us because some or all can paralyze us into inaction. Or we do the opposite. We go running on that damn hamster wheel of life, and strive so hard that we face burnout or emotional or physical injuries. And for what? DO we ever feel like its enough or that we are enough? Are we truly happier? Not superficially happier, because yes, we may feel happy for a while about certain accomplishments or pursuits. BUT–are we deeply-joyful-and-fulfilled?
Two more important questions: When did you first feel NOT ENOUGH? Or–Who told you that you were NOT ENOUGH?
The “I’m not enough” deep dialogue that goes on inside of us began somewhere, somehow. I just recently discovered where mine came from. Even though I consider myself pretty self-aware, the dots just got connected for me. (Thank you, dear therapist.) I learned at age 10 or 11, a piece of my family story, previously kept from me, rightly so. And to this day, it’s not something I talked to my parents about much or at all. My mom did not like to talk about her past, her mistakes, so information came out in drips and pieces throughout my life. She passed away 10 years ago, and I still don’t quite have the puzzle put together.
Perfectionism arises out of shame. Shame is the precursor to the constant striving for approval and pleasing others. It is imperative we ask ourselves what our true motives are for all the excessive striving to be our best. “If I work really hard, and look, act, or seem perfect, than no one will know what I am really like. No one will know my secrets, no one will know my shame or my pain.” I feared being unloved or unlovable if anyone knew my whole flawed, family history. Shame gets in the way of feeling and knowing our worthiness, as Brene Brown, details in The Gifts of Imperfection.
But bringing it all into the light, diffuses its power. We must own our story. We must accept our story and ourselves as imperfect but worthy. So worthy. Worthy NOW. Worthy, just because we breathe.
What do you need to bring into the light?