If I had a time machine and could go back and tell my younger self anything (despite some winning lottery numbers) I’d tell me to be patient and kind to myself.
I’m not sure why this isn’t something you learn growing up. Maybe it’s just the way our society views things. We live in a world where being stressed is something to brag about. Where working seventy hours or three job is something that to define yourself by. Perfectionism runs rampant throughout the land and the casualties it leaves are tremendous. I know, I’ve been one of them.
Straight As, Dean’s List, knowing all the basketball stats… these were just some of the things that got me attention and were stressed as important. Failure to do so resulted in a disappointing look from my Dad, but more significant an emotional lashing from myself. I had to do better. I had to know more. I had to do these things so that I would be loveable and respectable.
I can’t recall a specific conversation that made me feel that way, but I’m guessing something happened that triggered that sort of belief in my head. Failure to meet these increasingly high standards would result in an internal punishment that was far worse than anything anyone else might dish out. This became a normal part of my daily living. Try hard, never quite succeed the right way, then destroy myself while I’m already feeling down. I can totally see why alcoholism runs in my family.
A few years ago, I began to ask myself this question when I found myself in a stick situation that resulted in self flogging: “What advice would I give a friend?” Would I tell my friend he’s worthless, unloveable, and a loser? Would I tell him a simple mistake was the worst thing he’s ever done? Would I grill him over his past and hold every single bad decision against him? Of course not. That would make me a horrible friend. So why the heck would I do that to myself?
It helped, a lot, but I still struggle with it at times. There is still this drive for perfectionism that I struggle with. But it’s getting better. Slowly every single day, it gets a little easier and a little better.