A major source of frustration that saps motivation and drains our confidence is thinking about all of the things we think that we need to do. We can wind up in a near-constant state of, “Jaysus! I haven’t done enough!”. All the while, we’re not acknowledging and internalising our efforts and achievements, big and small. This attitude isn’t good for our self-esteem or our mojo. We’re like a ‘coach’ on one side, pushing relentlessly and never acknowledging progress. And on the other side, we’re a perfectionist taskmaster. Consequently, we need to find ways to bring self-compassion into our lives.
A key practice for me is writing a “What I Did Today” List. I’m a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist who’s also inclined to overgive and be over-responsible. I’ve been conditioned to always be looking to do “more”. I have the efforting style of people pleasing, so I’ve used efforts to please and to also gain self-worth. Each time I feel as if I’m overwhelmed, treading water or “not doing enough”, I write the list. It’s a revelation. I’ve typically tasked myself with 2-3+ weeks worth of stuff for one week. Talk about being unrealistic with my time!
Even if you write about what you think you need to be and do for others over the course of a day or week, you quickly see why you have so little bandwidth (time, energy, effort and emotions) and perspective left for yourself.
You cannot be all things to all people.
Many of the clients I’ve worked with and readers and listeners of this blog grapple with feeling like a failure, or certainly feeling as if nothing is ever “enough”. This results in comparison, envy and, yeah, feeling crappy.
Noting what you do is a key component of learning to internalise your accomplishments and achievements, which is critical for healthy self-image. You stop feeling like a fraud and being reliant on external nods of praise. Instead, you learn to self-validate and to respect your time and your body. Ultimately, this is good mental, emotional and physical boundaries.
Give it a try! Spend a day writing down everything that you do and if you really want an eye-opener like I did, try recording your efforts for a week.
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