Today we had a group session about challenging the belief “I am a failure”. We began by listing all the times when we think we have been a failure. Popular responses included: bad grades, bad work appraisal, anti-social, time waster, not doing your best, quitter, lazy… the list goes on. Seeing all of these examples on the board was quite frightening. It made it clear how each and every one of us in the room holds ourselves to an impossibly high standard, which sets us up for constant failure.
I wouldn’t say my friend was a failure if she got a B in her exam, if she spent a night in or if she had a lie in one morning, so why do I punish myself when I do these things?
We were then asked to list examples of success. The list included top grades, a good job, being driven, being pretty, being clever…again, the list goes on.
Then we were asked to look again at success. After more thinking we came up with the following list: happy, authentic, fulfilled and content. Comparing the two lists, we saw how it is these successes that give us self-esteem. This is true success. We could have the top grades, the best job, lots of money, be the best friend to everyone, but you have to ask yourself, at what cost?
People who strive for perfectionism often don’t enjoy getting there and so it is more important to look at the whole picture.
So now I am going to start asking myself:
If I wasn’t constantly striving for perfection, I could…
Lowering expectations and personal standards opens you up to a whole new world of opportunities…