Over the last few years, I’ve coached hundreds of women in the areas of mind, body or business and there’s often a common theme – the “shoulds.” You know what I’m talking about … “I should be better at this.” “I should be farther along.” “I should be able to stay on this frigging diet.” “I should be doing more, being more successful, staying leaner, getting more business, doing more, being more, having more, blah, blah, blah….”
I understand the “shoulds.” I do. And of course I’ve had my fair share of self-doubt and thoughts of inadequacy. But honestly, at some point, don’t you have to just get over yourself???
I mean really, can’t we, as grown women, decide at some point that we’re good enough? That we’re doing the best we can? And then stop doing things that either don’t serve us or make us miserable?
I’m ready. You in? :)
13 Things to Stop Doing:
1) Stop expecting perfection with your eating.
Who are you, a pro figure competitor on stage whose goal is to win money with your physique? No. If you’re like me, you’re someone who eats well most of the time but also realizes that choking down dry chicken breasts and steamed asparagus is no way to live. In fact, it’s miserable. So instead, could we work to find that balance between complete deprivation and eating to our heart’s desire? Adopt a more moderate approach and be okay with not having to eat like we’re competing for World’s Leannest Physique? Instead, throw ourselves a bone, stay mindful and celebrate the fact that we’re human and that perfection is an illusion anyway. Maybe we could consider giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt and realize that expecting perfection with our eating may actually make us less compliant?
2) Stop comparing yourself to others.
It’s human nature to do this. Besides, we live in a relative world where we are always “more” or “less” than something or someone else. But how does it serve us to go around comparing our bodies or our successes to others? If we’re doing “better” than some random person we deem comparable, we make it mean we’re good. If we’re not at the level of some other arbitrary person, we make it mean we suck. Could you take a step back and realize that your life is exactly that? Yours. No one else’s, and your journey is 100% unique to you? Using relativity to boost or lessen your self-worth is a dangerous place to be because it’s a game we can never win. There will always be someone more lean/fit/successful/smart/ripped/thin/muscular, etc than us. And us searching out those people with the sole intention of making us feel bad about ourselves is a waste of time and energy. Instead, own your unique bad-assness right now and relax into the awesomeness that is YOU.
3) Stop saying ‘yes’ to everyone and everything.
As women, this is often our natural default. We say yes to things we don’t want to do for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or out of obligation. We feel like if we put up boundaries that we are being bitchy or unkind, when, if you think about it, isn’t saying ‘yes’ to someone when you really want to say ‘no’ unkind to the other person?? I know for me, when I agree to things I don’t want to do, I end up resentful and bitter. And then, in that sense, not only am I now miserable but it’s doing a disservice to the person I said yes to, also. Practice those honest ‘no’s, as Byron Katie says. And if a friend is upset that you are doing what’s best for you, might you ask how good a friend they really are? :)
4) Stop allowing other people to tell you your truth.
Most people are, on some level, naturally impressionable and naturally insecure. And often we don’t know ourselves quite well enough to not let the observations and judgments of others get to us. I remember a year ago, a woman commented on one of my blogs how “judgmental and condescending” I was. I was hurt by it. Those are two things I actually try really hard not to be, because I’m aware that in the realm of self-help, it’s easy to appear preachy. So I tried to justify myself: “Well, if you’ve read all the blogs, you’d see that I’ve messed up plenty, and share all my struggle right here!” Even though I was rationalizing and sputtering, a small tendril of doubt worked its way into my brain–“Am I judgmental? Wow, maybe I am condescending!” And so now I’m caught up believing something that I really don’t think is true about me. Why? Because I allowed someone else–who I didn’t know, nor did she know me–to influence my truth. And it sucked :) This is not to say, don’t take coaching or constructive criticism. But think about your truth before blindly believing that of someone else, who doesn’t know you nearly as well as you know yourself. Consider the source. Ask the tough questions and come to your own conclusions.
5) Stop feeling guilty for taking down-time.
You guys know I am a huge fan of taking R&R time. I’m a million times more productive because of it, but in our culture, we associate taking down-time as laziness. And maybe it is, but I’ll be the “laziest” person on earth if it means I can be hyper-focused other times. Because I’ve lived the working-70-hours-a-week-always-busy-never-productive life. And that sucked. I was spinning my wheels and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It took me 5 years to change my schedule and lifestyle enough to have actual down-time, but more than that, it took a mental shift. I had to mentally view down-time as actually being productive instead of lazy. I learned to manage my energy instead of my time. And because of it, I learned to achieve way more in much less time. But it started with a risk. If you haven’t read ‘The Power of Full Engagement’ by Tony Scwartz and Jim Leohr, I highly recommend it.
6) Stop assuming you know what’s best for other people.
This is a toughie. We experience success with doing things a certain way and all of a sudden, we can’t understand why other people don’t want to do it our way, too. I get that. In fact, I pretty much do it with this blog :-D Buuuuut, it’s important to let other people honor their own process. Let them mess up. Let them struggle their way through it, even if it’s painful for them or tough for you to watch. Why? Because they need the time and space to work their way through it themselves, don’t they? Don’t they deserve the opportunity to figure it out themselves? Just like you did? Why rob them of that process? Like I said, tough. But only fair.
7) Stop trying to win the World’s Busiest Person award.
For whatever reason, in our society, we use how much crap we have on our plate to justify our self-worth. Busier means more important, right? And it’s also a great way to be a martyr. I did this for years–always humbling bragging that I had no time to do anything, that no one could possibly understand how busy I was, or the number of obligations I was juggling. I was playing the victim role, and using my busy schedule to justify my self-worth. But, don’t you have at least some choice over your schedule? If you really want to find time, can’t you? So ask yourself, am I using how busy I am to feel good about myself? Could I start to be less busy (and likely happier), and still feel worthy?
8) Stop hiding your quirks.
“Your stuff” is what makes you YOU. Your quirks or your struggles are what make you unique and also allow for other people to connect with you. Being perfect is boring (and also unattainable!), and who can connect with someone who has no shit to work through? The email I receive the most from readers is, “thank you for being so honest and transparent.” There’s connection and relatedness there. And part of getting through your challenges is owning up to them and putting them on display (gasp!). And I would argue that we do people a disservice when we try to keep up the pretense that we always get everything right on the first try and everything’s effortless. So stop trying to hide the very things that make you YOU, and own your unique traits. They’re awesome!
9) Stop taking everything personally.
One of my favorite mindset reads is ‘The Four Agreements’ and one of the four is “Don’t take anything personally.” This is so, so, soooooo hard! I’ve talked about this concept at length with my spiritual coach, and his contention is that we take things personally and make stuff mean that we are somehow no good because we need it to reinforce our insecurities. If Jade mentions how we have no clean drinking glasses, I can choose (or not) to make it mean that I’m a sucky, messy wife who doesn’t clean. We can choose to make anything mean whatever we want. We can slant any comment to where we feel like it’s our fault. And those kinds of assumptions don’t serve us. In the drinking glasses example, Jade’s comment about there being no clean dishes is literally just that–a fact that there are no clean dishes. I choose to take it as a personal affront (or not) to mean I’m a slob. So ask yourself, could you start just taking people at their word, without having to make everything about you? I mean really, it’s kind of egotistical to make everything about us, isn’t it? And yet when we twist any statement into how we are not good enough, we are being pretty darn self-centered, aren’t we?? Giving other people (and ourselves!) the benefit of the doubt is so much easier :)
10) Stop trying to convince other people to get on your team.
This can be particularly hard when starting out on a new healthy lifestyle journey. Friends and family may not get it. And that’s actually fine, because it’s not for them to understand, and you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. People will either get it or not, and you running around trying to rally the reluctant only makes you miserable. Own your choices and if people see you doing for you, it’s more likely to inspire camaraderie down the road. But YOU have to own it and be confident in your own choices first.
11) Stop being surprised by what other people do.
People will always do what they do, and having expectations for how other people “should” act only makes us miserable. We like to think everyone would do what we would in certain circumstances. But then they don’t because … wait for it … they’ll always do what they do! And isn’t that the beauty of the world–people get to make their own decisions, have their own opinions and take responsibility for their own choices. And we don’t have to understand it. It’s just them. And the less expectations we have for how others should be, the kinder life gets.
12) Stop clinging to negative self-talk as a way to “spur” yourself to action.
It doesn’t work. As much as we wish it did, we hold onto our guilt and remorse thinking that we need it to be motivated to eat better or go to the gym. Negative reinforcement might work for a few days, but ultimately, the more you beat yourself up, the more beat down you get. How UN-motivating! I’ve written on this several times, including here and here.
13) Stop the incessant self-judgment.
Ever encounter those people who preface everything with an apology or something like, “I know this is going to sound stupid, but…” That is incessant self-judgment. It’s examining what you say or what you think and then labeling it as “good” or “bad.” Resist the urge to look around for clues of how poorly you’re doing. Don’t use this post as yet one more example of why you suck :) In other words, don’t look at this list and go, Gee, I do all of those things!! I have so far to go!! I really suck!! Resist the urge to judge yourself or where you are right now or how far you still have to go. You’re human. This is normal stuff. We all have challenges and things we want to change, but those changes take time. Honor your process and resist the knee-jerk default reaction of tallying up all the ways you are not good enough to prove, once again, how far you have to go. THE FACT THAT YOU ARE EVEN READING THIS FAR DOWN ON THIS LONG-ASS POST MEANS THAT YOU WANT TO GET BETTER! See? You’re already on your way. Let that be a win!
Good luck! Never forget how awesome you already are, how much potential you have and how, yes, you can afford to show yourself kindness while you work on self-improvement. You’re awesome! Ox, Jill