Get Off Their Own Back & Own Your “Enoughness”
If you’re like many women I meet, you’re probably pretty tough on yourself; often focusing more on what you haven’t done, or didn’t totally nail, versus all that you have accomplished and did nail!
Many women I meet are remarkably good at being exceptionally self-critical. We’re often far harder on ourselves than on anyone else. It why, despite our continual striving to be our ‘best selves’ we often feel we’ve fallen far short of the mark. Far short.
If you relate in any way, you’re not alone.
In fact, you’re in the company of a legion of amazing women who often feel they don’t measure up on some parameter; that they are not enough in some way and are just waiting on everyone else to realise.
Not successful enough… organized enough…confident enough… slim enough… talented enough…experienced enough…thoughtful enough… worthy enough…capable enough.
Let’s face it, we live in a society that bombards us 24/7 with messages urging us to live up to idealised images of success, brilliance, beauty and got-it-all-togetherness. And while most women intellectually understand that no one can be at their best all the time, we are masters at using our fallen moments as a baton to beat up on ourselves. (If you’re a working mum, double it!)
It’s why the best self-help must always begin with self-compassion; accepting that no matter how hard we may try to be generous-spirited or brave-hearted or ‘insert-virtue-here’, we will inevitably fall short.
And that’s okay.
New research has found that it’s not self-esteem or optimism that helps people handle life’s challenges best, it’s self-compassion. It may sound counter intuitive, but when we are kind to ourselves, embracing our fallibility and accepting our flaws, we don’t lower the bar and retreat to our couch to binge on ice cream. In fact, just the opposite! We expand our capacity for action, connection and contribution and recover faster from life’s inevitable myriad of disappointments, hardships and heartaches.
So if you often feel like you are not measuring up or have simply grown a little (or lot) jaded by the endless stream of advice on how to be your ‘best self’, my best advice (yes, no irony lost there) is to cut yourself some slack, get off your own back and give yourself permission to be fabulous and fallible, innately worthy and wholly imperfect…. all-at-the-same-time.
My last 6 months have been fertile ground for practicing self-compassion and embracing my own fallibility. During that time I’ve packed up my life in Australia–teenagers in tow – and replanted in Singapore (ah, the joys of dual-career marriages). Let me assure you, I’ve had more than my usual share of fallen and decidedly ‘uncomposed’ moments where I’ve felt anything but my ‘best self.’ (Just ask my husband. No change, that… don’t ask him.)
Yet as challenging as some days have been, I’ve come to appreciate that our greatest growth and deepest fulfilment doesn’t flow from the parts of us that are flawless or the times when life is easy; it flows from the parts of us that we’ve been wrestling with our entire life and that dial up a notch or ten when plans go awry or life presses in on us (like moving country with teenagers.) While it would be lovely to stay forever zen and feel permanently gracious, it is embracing our raw moments that make us real, relatable and allows us to forge the most authentic connections with others.
Life has taught me that we are not so much human beings as ‘human becomings’. It’s in the space of giving up on perfection that we open a window to a deeper dimension of living in which we can experience more moments of genuine joy, connection, abundance, gratitude and fulfilment.
Just imagine what possibilities could open up for you if, every day (or just as often as you can manage it), you stepped out into the world with the deep knowing that you don’t have to be more or less of anything in order to be ‘enough’ — to be ready enough, good enough, successful enough, smart enough, deserving enough.
Imagine, if instead of continually striving to be the woman you think you should be, you embraced the innate adequacy of the woman you already are?
Finally, imagine the subtle yet profoundly liberating shift it would make if you stopped focusing on all your shortcomings and failings and began acknowledging your many strengths and triumphs.
As the most pressing problems in our world seem to grow larger, not smaller, it’s vital that we women stop talking ourselves down and waiting until we know exactly what we’re doing (and have our shit fully together) before we dare to try.
By being as kind to ourselves as we are to others we liberate ourselves of the perpetual need to impress or prove or please. Rather than trying to continually avoid the risk of exposed as a failure, or being uncovered as an impostor, we can step fully into our own power as trailblazers, change makers, entrepreneurs, torchbearers and leaders – despite any doubts that we may fall short in our attempt.
So back yourself more, doubt yourself less and get off your own back. Not only because the best self-help is self-compassion, but when you embrace your humanity and dare to show up as the ‘flawsome’ human becoming that you are, you give others permission to do the same. What greater gift is?
Margie Warrell is an author, coach, speaker and an imperfect mother of four who drops balls on a regular basis. She is also running her Live Brave Women’s Weekend again this May. If you’d love a weekend away to reconnect with the boldest vision for your business and life, to reignite your passion, rekindle your courage and meet some ‘flawsome’ women in the process, please check it out. Early bird registration ends soon. www.livebraveweekend.com
As an extra gift for LBD members, any LBD members who book will be given complimentary enrolment in her Life Compass program valued at US$197 and her latest book Make Your Mark: A Guidebook for the Brave Hearted.