If you are a perfectionist, a people pleaser, or just a person who wants to do good, you may from time to time fall prey to the “second guessing yourself” syndrome. What is this, you ask?
Does any of this sound familiar?
1. You make a decision about something and then stew and fret about whether you made the right decision.
2. You make purchases which you later regret.
3. You sometimes question your choice in: careers, what you are wearing today, what you ordered for dinner, where you are living, even your mate…
4. If you are ever someplace or doing something and you think about all of the other places you could be or the other things you could be doing.
5. You worry about the presentation you made at work, or the paper you turned into your professor…
6. You stress about how you are spending your recreational time: should I be doing dance instead of yoga? Writing in my paper journal or electronic journal? Do I hop on my bike or simply go out on a walk?
This kind of doubting and second guessing one’s self is a recipe for anxiety and insomnia. I know. I am an expert at self-torture. I think many of us people pleasers of the world are prone to this. Perfectionists and tender hearted folks are as well. We just want to do well! We want to make the right choices… be the perfect mothers, wives, and employees. When it comes time to have a vacation we want to select the perfect one: destination, air fare, where we sit on the plane, what hotel we will be staying at, what sights we will see, what restaurants we will eat at, etc.
If we permit our minds to think about all of the options out there (and in today’s world there are always so many choices, aren’t there?!), we will be stuck in agony. There is this “grass is greener on the thing that I did not choose” mantra.
This is misery. Anxiety. Sleepless nights.
I don’t know that I will ever be completely free of this. Just when I think I am sailing along pretty well on this river I am riding, a student or my husband or my kid will say something to me that completely takes me by surprise and because I am not prepared, I take it personally and get emotionally hijacked… Or perhaps an unexpected bill or expense will present itself and I panic and think to myself “What have you done, Debra, staying home all those years with those children and then returning to work as a teacher when you could have practiced law”?
Hmmmm…the beat down and sleepless nights occur.
Although I am still not as thick skinned as I wish I could be, I have come a long way over the years. I have found some things that have helped me overcome my anxiety and self doubt:
1. With each day, I remind myself of the fact that I am doing my best. I may make mistakes (perhaps I wasn’t the perfect teacher, wife, or mother…) but I did my best with what I had that day. That is all God, my students, husband, daughter, life, and (myself) can ask of me.
2. When I make a decision about something, I do it and feel good about it (no ruminating about what I did or did not do).
3. When someone says something that stings me, I step back (and breathe) and try to remember that we all have our subjective points of view. What someone says about me is not set in stone. It has more to do with them than about me, anyway.
4.Go with it! The “perfect” teacher, mother, wife, Christmas holiday…is an elusive myth. What is “perfect” anyway? Real people are not air brushed, things do not always go according to plan, the perfectly planned lesson, dinner party, wedding, or vacation are going to be what they are going to be- no matter how meticulously we planned for them! We need to accept this about life and be more flexible.
5. I like Dale Carnegie’s idea of living in day-tight compartments. Live today.
Life, one day at a time. That’s it.
You doubt yourself,
it’s easy to do.
Second guessing can become second nature…
For if things are not as we like, who are we to blame?
Looking in the mirror is all too easy.
Operating in a high pressure world,
Do you ever want to scream?
There is another way…
a better way (I do so believe).
And that is simply to just be.
Judgement and critcism from self (and others if that may be the case) can
be put to rest.
You don’t have to be the best according to any set standards out there…
For you already are the best
just as you are.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? We often would not treat other people the way we treat ourselves.
Do you ever:
1. over think things to death and end up not being able to make a decision or take action?
2. not go somewhere or not buy yourself some much needed new clothes because you’ve gained a few pounds?
3. Avoid mirrors or think negative thoughts as you see your reflection?
4. Worry about being or getting older?
5. Worry that you are not a good enough parent or employee?
6. put so much on your plate on a daily basis that you are stressed and burned out by the time the weekend comes around?
7. find it hard to receive gifts or compliments
8. settle for underemployment and not getting paid what you are worth?
These are just a few examples of how we are hard on ourselves. If you can relate to anything on this list you are not alone. We are a society of perfectionists, multi-taskers, achievers who are obsessed about being materially successful, young, and thin.
Phew! No wonder we are wound up so tight at times.
Today, I want you to just focus on one idea:
How can I be more easy and gentle on myself?
I am not going to offer any ideas as to how to do that right now for I want you to see what ideas or insights surface for you.
I will follow up with you later.
You can write in your journal this morning affirmations such as:
I take care of myself by__________
I Am gentle
I Am at my ease
I go through my day taking it easy
I Am enough
A huge source of our stress is what we put on ourselves: hurrying, putting too much on our plates, being perfectionists, multi-tasking, and feeling overwhelmed. There is an easier way. This easier way will pave the path to a more balanced day and restful night.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing today, life really can be a “day at the beach” if you do these things:
1. Focus your attention on one task at a time.
2. Do your best and live for this day only. Quit beating yourself up about past days and fretting about days in your future (they are not reality).
3. Remember to breathe.
4. Every hour take a mental break by stretching, taking a walk, or doing a breathing exercise.
5. Spend time with people you like.
7. Sit up and stand up straight and tall.
8. If you are particularly worried about something, write the worry down in your journal. Ask yourself, “what is the worst that can happen?”
Meditate on that worst case scenario. Visualize yourself experiencing it and in your mind accept it as if it could be real. Now visualize ways you can improve that situation. Write those solutions down. Start taking action. This exercise will eliminate 99% of the stress you put on yourself with worry (something we all do).
9. What are you thankful for? Think of those things frequently. Write them down.
10. Look for and see the beauty in all things.
Do those ten things and your life will be a day at the beach each and every day.
In my lifetime people pleasing has probably been the leading cause of: loss of sleep, worry, anxiety, holding myself back, missed opportunities, and lines on my face.
Perhaps from the time I was a little girl I got conditioned to not just want but absolutely need the approval of my father and when I started school, my teachers. Then when I started my first job, my bosses.
Throughout the years I conducted myself being mindful or thinking about what others thought of me. What did they think of how I looked? What I wore? Who I hung out with? What I did for a living? What my house looked like? How my kids behave? What I said? What car I drove? The agonizing list can go on.
Those of you who are prone to anxiety like I am can relate to this I’m sure. In the past few years I decided that I am tired of living this way- for others. What I need to be doing is making sure I am okay with myself. What others think really does not have to have any control or power over me. This is not an easy task, the shedding of people pleasing. We people pleasers of the world seem to have the mandate of “being nice and perfect” firmly entrenched in our psyches.
I believe that if one can lick the people pleasing thing, peace of mind, a happier life, and much more restful nights of sleep are at hand for the taking.
Sound good? Here are some ideas that are helping me. I can’t say I am completely cured of my people pleasing yet but I, at age 44, am much better than I was even a few years ago.
My list of ten people pleasing blasters:
I will stop here for tonight. This is a subject I feel very strongly about for it is something that has really affected my life. If I can assist in any way to support you in extinguishing people pleasing from your life agenda, then I will be happy.
In peace (and total confidence in myself),
P.S. I hope that you have found value in this article. If not, I bless you but I will not lose sleep over it. Okay? : )
Many of us who are prone to anxiety doubt ourselves. We play and replay negative self talk tapes in our minds. This habit affects our sleep and well being. It affects how we relate to others , how we perform on the job, and how we feel about ourselves.
If you are doubting yourself…
Have a blessed day,
One big source of anxiety can be when we are not accepting ourselves. Do you ever put pressure on yourself or beat yourself up for :
not being thin enough? outgoing enough? successful enough? being rich enough? being too old? being too young? etc. etc.
We all do this from time to time and I am here to tell you that we need to stop with the critical self talk! It is a very unkind and unhealthy practice. Many of us are sweet, “nice” people who would never dream of being unkind to someone else. So why would we be hurtful to ourselves? That makes no sense.
I’ve spent years doing this to myself, feeling like I had to be perfect. When I felt that I wasn’t being perfect (didn’t get that A, was being too shy at a party etc.), I would feel very upset with myself. It really came out mostly at night when I was trying to sleep. I would toss and turn and replay the ways of my imperfection over and over again. Well, perfectionism sucks! So does the resulting anxiety and insomnia that so often comes with it.
It is truly time to make peace with ourselves here and now. It is time to practice acceptance. Be in the now. Stop fretting and worrying about some perceived misstep or misdeed from the past. Just quit it, aready!
Things to try to be more accepting of ourselves:
Being more accepting of yourself will greatly help your peace of mind, reduce anxiety, and restore good sleeping patterns. It is important and necessary work. Doing things like taking sleep medication may help but at best, it is a short term solution- a band aid. Working on achieving peace of mind will give you much more lasting and real good nights of sleep.
Other things to try: meditation, breathing, and journal writing exercises. The Warm Milk Journal will continue to provide ideas to promote physical and mental health. I believe we sleep our best and live a higher quality of life when we are accepting of ourselves and being the most centered we can be.
* Please note: I am not a doctor or medical practitioner of any kind. If you are currently on any kind of medication please don’t stop taking it because of something you read here. Always talk with your doctor before getting on or off medication related to sleep, anxiety, or other health issues.
Debra : )