On a ‘not feeling so great’ day recently, I realized I was looking around my house, at my life, at all the things I am supposed to measure up to. Numerous items and definitions and tasks that have no real measured defined standard. I somehow, I had fallen short of measuring up to an undefined level of perfectionism. A unacheivable undefined standard. And so I will fail every day.
That queasy feeling I have knowing that every day I will be judged and found to be an inadequate failure. My house won’t be pretty enough, my writing won’t ever be published or prolific enough, my kids won’t be stimulated enough, and my body won’t be young enough.
Like a slow leak in my psyche, again the case of the not enoughs has taken its toll. Every effort I make goes down the ‘not enough’ hole. My energy drained, my efforts unnoticed.
Perhaps I judge and sentence myself to avoid anyone beating me to the punch of telling me I’m not enough. The crime is punishable by solitude and no risks. I will already create the rejection I expect the world handing me so that I won’t be disappointed when it does. I am in control of my failure, I already know how it turns out.
Yet, to have seen the pattern is to break it. Whatever effort I muster in a day, that has to be enough. What I have to give is all I have. And raising the standards, the daily expectations so that I always fail, that’s just downright mean.
So here I am giving myself credit and permission to be OK with whatever I have today. It’s OK. And I offer myself the faith that I will get around to working on and clearing and creating whatever needs to happen in the order of its importance. I will commit to defining my enoughs. The children will have enough love. I will have enough time with my friends. And I will forgive myself my brutal humanity yet again and allow for the risks that will elevate me above a survivor and onto a successfully self-aware woman who is using her wisdom and fear to inspire others out of their fear holes too. Enough is enough.
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I think we are very much alike. Self-doubt and denigration are exactly as you say a protective device. I can say more or worse things about myself than you can, nyeh, nyeh.
Sometimes I think when I verbalize my self-denigrations, I hoping that someone will save me from myself and contradict them. It feels good for a minute or so, but then I think they are just being kind, not honest. What a crazy cycle.
Is it the Virgo in us or did you have a perfectionistic mother, too, who didn’t love herself either?
Oh I know we are Ann. Being done before you start saves you from the humiliation of defeat. As for the compliments of others, they will fall flat and you will even suspect them if you don’t feel the same about yourself. The raising of the self esteem, because yes I got my low esteem and anxiety honest from my mother and my grandmother the perfectionistic Virgo, is my number one goal. I want to like myself and my life and I want to model that for my kids. It’s hard work but possible. I think knowing that has given me such hope.
Thank you as always Ann for your thoughtful comment.
Nice to share our thoughts.
Ugh. I really get this. I fight it by throwing away the bath mat that always looks dirty and makes me feel about it. I got rid of the permanent mat I used to do yoga on outside because the dogs were always getting it dirty, too. And then I wouldn’t do yoga because I had to also mop the mat. I don’t match socks anymore because one is always kissing and then I feel bad about that. So much of what I allow to make me feel badly is under my control – so I try to embrace new ways of thinking about them and look for creative solutions to shield me from my own propensity to self judgement. As far as being enough of a creator, I also feel you. I’m currently reading Liz Gilbert’s book Big Magic and find it is salve for the creative and sometimes tortured soul. It’s kind and funny and makes me feel so not alone. Liz advises that as long as you’ve made a lifelong contract with creativity and do it for the sheer joy of the experience then know that it is all always enough. Thanks for your post, my friend. Onward, Heather
Hahaha so many typos but I don’t feel bad about it I think you get the idea.
Because yes, they’re from you so they’re organic and friendly.
Heather! I can totally relate to the throwing away of stuff that makes me feel “less than”. I stopped today and thought, “Fiona doesn’t care that my belly is bloated, there are no hot guys around to care, every other woman I see has a belly, my husband had a belly, so what the heck am I doing with this upset.” I am so happy/jealous that you are reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. And I completely agree that knowing you are committed to your creative life makes it enough. Thank you for taking the time to write. and I’m leaving your typos.
Some days I get it all done. Some days I don’t. And it’s OK. Most days. It is so hard not to be hard on oneself if you were raised with expectations or are that great Type A person that I am coupled with that. But if it’s any consolation and it’s probably not because it’s hard to see that far ahead…it does get better! Really. It does.
It’s all about expectations and standards. Who I was and what I could accomplish is way different now than when I was 30. I’m so excited to finally be seeing myself and the things i want to do with my life Shannon. And yes, I agree that it will all change. Especially when I get school time for both the children. Years and years from now. Sigh. Thank you!