When I decided I wanted to create the Confidence Project I didn’t realize how much it would affect me (in all positive ways) or how much I would learn in just the one week running it. I was lucky that the women who took part trusted me in our one on one conversations and were honest about what they were struggling with when it came to the areas where they lacked confidence. What amazed me was how much we all have in common when it comes to doubting our own abilities, and how hard we can be on ourselves when we don’t meet certain expectations we have put on our lives. We expect perfection from ourselves, even when we don’t fully understand that is what we are doing, and that can hold us back from success, happiness, and overall acceptance of who we are as a person.
Here are a few questions I want you to ask yourself:
Why do you expect there to be perfection in certain aspects of your life? Why are you so insanely hard on yourself? When you feel that you have fallen short of expectations do you find yourself questioning your abilities? Do you stop yourself from taking chances if the circumstances aren’t perfect?
The truth is you may have unrealistic expectations for yourself that lead you to believe it has to be perfect or you have failed OR that it has to be perfect in order for you to take a leap. The truth is these expectations are likely finding their way in to your life in various forms. It may not be every day or every week but too often you may be questioning your ability to do what you want with your life. And you may be holding yourself back from not only from good opportunities but also the path that is meant for you.
When you start to give in to this idea of perfection and find you aren’t living up to you it you probably start asking yourself questions like: Do I really have things to offer to the world like I thought I did? Am I really able to succeed the way I want to? Do I really think I am capable of accomplishing these things? Will I ever feel fulfilled personally or professionally?
When you start to find yourself headed down the rabbit hole of chasing perfection I want you to do one thing; work on changing your mindset.
Believe me I know that this isn’t simple but it can make a huge difference in how you move forward in your life, so hear me out. Did you know that research shows most females from an early age were praised for their intelligence, instead of praised for the process it took to gain that intelligence? From childhood “…girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.” This has actually led some of us, myself included, to become harsh with ourselves when we feel we have ‘failed’ our own expectations. It has made us believe that one failure or one misstep is the end, instead of the beginning, or a lesson to be learned. Worse we have been conditioned to believe that we either can or cannot do something innately, instead of realizing we may be able make changes which would change the outcome.
These mindsets embedded in us at a young age unfortunately make us “grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves–women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon.” I would add we also can become women who are too afraid to even try.
In order to put this obsession to be perfect aside we have to start believing in ourselves more, we have to change our mindset from a fixed mindset to one of growth. And this takes work since it has been embedded in many of us from a young age to believe we either do it perfect or we aren’t capable of doing it. But if we can remember that life is a journey and that we have not and will not get it right every time, and that everything won’t go our way the first time we try, then hopefully that reminds us to not give up when things get tough. It should also remind us that we are capable of so much growth if we would just give ourselves the time and grace to get there.
I still fail, I still get down on myself, and expect perfection at times, but I have seen change in my life since I’ve started checking myself when I am letting my need for perfection hold me back. What I started to realize is that I was hindering myself from any success or any happiness I wanted to obtain simply by my unwillingness to give myself a break. I know that I am not the only woman that feels like this and I know we have to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. We have to stop expecting perfection in every aspect of our lives. We can’t be expect that we will know everything in every situation, or that every situation will fit just right in to our expectations of how it should go. We have to start seeing challenges and setbacks as puzzles to solve not as another reason to get down on ourselves. We have to know that our path won't be perfect, not even close, and most importantly we have to put our obsession with thinking it has to be perfect aside!