For years, I have given myself anxiety striving for perfection that I know does not exist. For example, I use to absolutely hate to make mistakes.
I would proofread an email a million times before sending it and then check the sent folder only to read it again lol And if I came across an error in that same email that I did not catch beforehand- I would think about it all day!
To think that I should be free from mistakes is unrealistic and mentally draining huh? Yea, I know! I am proud to say that I am doing a whole lot better but I’m still a work in progress. I did not like to make mistakes because I associated it with “incompetence”. And perfect people get praise not incompetent people, right?
When things are imperfect you do not have control. Anxiety (stress and fear too) and control usually go hand in hand. When we lack control over the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” of things we start over analyzing all of the many possibilities and impossibilities. Then before you know it-BOOM! Your mind is in a whirlwind.
We all strive to acquire various titles, positions, financial brackets, relationship statuses, and possessions at certain times in our life. We layout a straight and narrow path to attain those goals- never giving ourselves any wiggle room for errors and modifications. And when that plan does not turnout as expected, we feel defeated.
We begin to question ourselves and if we really deserve what we are desiring. When most times we just need to take a look at our expectations and tweak them. That includes the expectations we place on ourselves, others, and our situations.
Whatever your expectations are, the only way to identify if and why they are the driving force behind your anxiety, stress, or fear- is to get to the root cause of why you have that specific “belief” regarding that expectation.
Yes, making improvements and growing are necessary but don’t be so hard on yourself. Expectations should be used to aid you in being a better person, not a perfect person.
Embrace Your Imperfections
Learning how to face your imperfections in a healthy and safe manner is important. It starts with valuing who you are and the person you are striving to be. Not the person you think you are supposed to be (your ideal self).
When I feel myself about to get all frantic regarding an unrealistic expectation I have set, I use positive self-talk to calm down. I then confront my irrational thoughts and reflect over all that I am grateful for and those that are grateful for my being.
But what has helped me the most is embracing the imperfection in others. They say that you cannot love others until you learn how to love yourself. And I agree with that to a certain degree. I’m a believer that God sends us people to teach us and help us develop those areas that we fall short.
You Live and You Learn
I believe learning how to love others is apart of the process in learning how to love yourself too! So, how have I been accomplishing that you ask?
By taking it day by day and learning how to extend the same grace, understanding, patience, and compassion to myself that I extend to others.
Signing Off for Now,
Dr. April Etoye