In past articles, we talked about feeling not good enough and being stuck in trying to be perfect. Today, we will explore some alternative perspectives and exercises on how you can accept yourself more and feel good enough.
1. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect
As we talked before, perfectionism is the curse of Sisyphus because it’s an unattainable standard. By trying to be flawless and do everything perfectly you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing.
Instead, aim for a more realistic standard. Ask yourself what would be good enough. Consider that perhaps what you’ve done is good enough.
Remember that oftentimes “suboptimal” scenarios or options are as good or almost as good as whatever you are trying to achieve by overworking or investing everything you have in the hope of being perfect. Most of the time less than perfect is enough.
2. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses
Remember that we all are human. Humans are imperfect. You’re a human, therefore you’re imperfect. And that’s okay, as long as you’re moving in the general direction of healing, growth, or improvement.
While you may tend to overconcentrate on your shortcomings and problems, it’s important to know and remember your good qualities. Write them down. Think about them. Don’t let your flaws negate all your strengths and virtues.
Also remember that life is not a contest. Instead of comparing yourself to others, aim to be a better, healthier, happier person than you were a year, six months, or even a week ago.
3. I should or I choose to?
Many people live in a world of SHOULDs and HAVE TOs. Therefore, they feel constant pressure to do things and don’t feel enough natural, internal motivation. This is a remnant of being controlled as a child.
As an adult, unless someone actually threatens or forces you to do something, you don’t have to do anything. You’re choosing to do or not to do things. Yes, this doesn’t mean that all your choices are pleasant, equal, or lead to wonderful outcomes, but you can choose nonetheless. Realizing you can make choices can significantly reduce anxiety.
I’ve seen many people (friends, acquaintances, clients) become less anxious and overwhelmed by simply changing their inner dialogue from I should or I have to into I want or I choose to.
Yes, it won’t immediately resolve the underlying problem that is rooted in your childhood, but it’s a good start. Try it!
4. You’re not alone with these problems
First, everyone has problems. Second, your problems most likely are not unique to you, even if it sometimes feels that you’re the only one who has to go through all this overwhelming mess.
You are not the only person who struggles with this. It’s okay. You can learn how to deal with your problems, even if at the moment they seem unbearable or never-ending. If needed, look for help—there is no shame in that.
It can get better.
5. It’s okay to take care of yourself
Aim to be a decent, happy, kind, self-actualized human being. Help others if and when you can, but also learn to say no when you feel uncomfortable or have too much going on.
You’re not obligated to help or save everyone. Remember that by taking care of yourself and setting healthier boundaries you are not being bad or cruel.
6. Slow down
A lot of people live a very fast, busy, or otherwise unconscious life where they don’t stop to evaluate their beliefs, actions, and emotions. They live on autopilot, or in a semi-conscious state. Many feel chronically tired, both physically and mentally.
Stop. Take a break. Get out of your head. Ask yourself: Why am I doing what I’m doing? How do I feel? Where am I going? What do I want? What do I value? What are my goals?
If you feel you are doing too much, do less. You can’t and don’t have to do everything. Prioritize.
Get proper rest. It’s as important to rest as it is to work towards your goals. Or to put it differently, rest is an inseparable part of your life. And if you want to be healthy and happy, taking a proper break to revitalize is not only okay but vital.
Slow. Your. Life. Down. Strive to live more consciously and enjoy the moment more.
7. It’s okay to have fun and feel joy
People with perfectionistic tendencies are often overly focused on results, efficiency, working, productivity, and so on. And while these things obviously have their value, oftentimes they don’t result in what we really want, which is contentment and happiness.
So, ask yourself if you’re really happy. Ask yourself where you see yourself in 10 years. How about 20? Ask yourself how you would feel if you continued with your life as it is right now until the day that you die. If you don’t like the answer, change something. It’s your life and yours only.
Meanwhile, it’s okay to not to be productive all the time. Life is not about results. Happiness is not about quantity and bigger numbers. Do something fun once in a while. Preferably more than once in a while. Laugh, love, cry, sing, run in the rain, travel, talk to strangers, try new things, visit new places, meet new people, take naps, go to nature… It’s okay to enjoy your life.
And maybe, just maybe, you are good enough. Maybe your life is good enough. Maybe everything is okay. Maybe you can endure it. Maybe you’re okay, even if not everything is perfect.
For more on these and other topics, check out the author’s books: Human Development and Trauma: How Childhood Shapes Us into Who We Are as Adults and Self-Work Starter Kit.