If you are anything like me, identifying your mistakes and flaws is pretty easy. They probably are part of the negative self talk narrative that kicks around inside your brain pretty regularly. They are the thoughts that creep into your head at night when the house is finally quiet and you relive the moments from the day, super critical of all the things that you did wrong.
You can probably quickly list a bunch of recent mistakes you made:
- Did you forget a meeting?
- Leave an important document at home?
- Swap your children’s lunches, homework folders or school supplies?
- Say something hurtful?
- Eat something you shouldn’t have?
- Texted at a red light? Participated in road rage?
- Parented in a way that you didn’t like?
It’s probably also a simple task for you to list your some of your biggest flaws:
- Too selfish?
- Too materialistic?
- Not forgiving enough?
- Too judgmental?
- Too lazy?
- Too tired?
- Not organized enough?
- Too forgetful?
What about the last 5 great things you did? What about your 5 greatest qualities? Are those positive lists more of a challenge for you? I know they are for me.
Not only does it take me longer to find the positives about myself and my actions, it also makes me feel uncomfortable to share them. I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. When I look at the other women in my life — stay at home mothers and mothers who work out of the home; single mothers and married mothers; first time mothers and mothers with multiple children; young mothers and less young (but not old) mothers — I see many of us in the same plight:
We strive for perfection, get caught up in comparing ourselves to others, set completely unrealistic expectations for ourselves and then when we are anything less than perfect, we beat ourselves up — relentlessly.
We need to let all of that go. It simply doesn’t serve us well at all. What would our lives look like if we could let go of some of the pressures we put on our own shoulders? Can we commit to trying these 5 tips to lighten up on ourselves?
Chances are your To-Do list is a mile long and you’ve over-extended, over-promised, and over-committed yourself. Practice saying No. Someone once told me that “no” is a complete sentence. It is perfectly fine to sometimes say No. That’s it. Explanations, excuses, alternatives are not always necessary. Stop trying to please everyone.
2.Set Realistic Goals
Re-evaluate your goals. What is a more realistic version of your goal? Set yourself up for success. Rather than setting a goal to clean out every closet in your house this weekend, would it be ok to set a goal to clean out only one? Would the world really implode?
3.Identify the Good
Practice identifying the things you do that are good; the ways in which you are already enough. Stop giving so much power to the negative stuff. If you need to stand in front of your mirror and tell yourself that you are enough, do it. If you need to write lists of your positive qualities, do it. If you need to write yourself love notes in dry erase markers on your mirrors, do it. Why not? You probably are perfectly fine doing just the opposite and reminding yourself of all you do wrong.
4.Take Care of You
Figure out what refuels you and schedule some time to do it. Maybe it’s a walk in the park. Maybe it’s lunch with a friend. Maybe it’s sitting at home alone and choosing to leave the laundry for a bit while you drink a cup of tea and read a book. Do it, and don’t allow guilt to enter your brain.
5.Help Each Other
Part of my most recent self-loathing involved texting my husband and a few friends to let them know how terrible I am. One dear friend reminded me that I am human. She’s right. No one is perfect. All of us are human and all of us have flaws. It’s ok. I need to stop trying to be perfect and we need to remind the women around us that it’s ok for them to not be perfect either.
Wouldn’t it be great to let go of at least some of the insane pressure we put on ourselves as mothers, wives, friends, and humans?
What if, for maybe the first time in a long time, we focused on our strengths and not our flaws?