Something I’ve been working on big time recently is telling myself, It’s okay.
This is a big one for me. One of the most unfortunate parts of being a perfectionist is the tendency to be really hard on yourself. Put in only 100% of your effort instead of 150%? Not enough. Forgot to plan an extra way to go above and beyond? Inexcusable. Didn’t finish all 5 million things on your to-do list? Failure.
I have these two inner voices in my head – one is the “devil me” and one is the “nice me.” Devil Me tells me I didn’t do enough, and that I wasn’t good enough. Nice Me tells me any effort I put in is good enough. Nice Me tells me it’s okay.
Throughout my life, I didn’t notice that Devil Me was so strongly in my head. When your brain is go go go, it’s hard to even realize that a voice is implanting thoughts into your head. You just get used to listening to it, and you think it’s your own voice.
Devil Me is not me, and I’ve recently been giving Nice Me much more attention than I ever have before. And you know what? It’s amazing.
Whenever I hear that automatic inner voice saying, How could you do that? You didn’t do that well enough. You need to do better next time, etc., I literally stop. I ask myself, Was it really bad? Or is that just Devil Me again?
Usually, it is Devil Me. So I give Devil Me the floor for a second, but then I ask Nice Me what she thinks. And Nice Me is much more forgiving. She always tells me it’s okay. It’s okay to cut yourself some slack, to give yourself some credit, to be proud of yourself, to be satisfied.
It’s all about perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in this world where everyone is going a million miles a minute, where everyone has big plans to make a lot of money and be the star of the show and outdo everyone else. But it’s unrealistic and unimportant. And honestly, if that’s your goal, you need to figure out what’s really important in life. Even if all that happens and you get “to the top” (what does that even mean?), then what? Will that really satisfy you? What’s the cost? Friendships, memories, family? Time?! Sanity?! Is it for you, or is it for approval from someone else? If it’s the latter, I really don’t think you’re going to get as much satisfaction as you think from getting someone else’s “approval,” if they even give it to you at all. The truth is, we all like to think that more people are paying attention to us than they really are. Most people are too busy worrying about themselves and wondering if they are impressing other people.
This all just leads back to the issue of what success really is, but that’s waaaay too much to tackle right now.
Take this post, for example. I have a lot to say, and I don’t really care if anyone is listening. I just need to get some thoughts out because my mind has been racing recently, and the shot that one day maybe someone will read something I write and it will resonate with that person is why I bother to publish anything in the first place. So I write things, and I want to post them, but sometimes I don’t because I don’t have any pictures to go along with the post.
Can we just pause for a second?
Where does that logic come from? I’m writing a blog. I’m definitely not trying to be a photographer. I’m just used to seeing all the current popular blogs, and I know what makes them popular, and some kickass photography is a big part of it. Who doesn’t want to look at pretty pictures? But then I ask myself why I started writing in the first place, and I remember that I don’t care at all if this blog is popular. I don’t even care if anyone reads it at all. So, screw waiting around for a random picture to publish a post. I don’t need pictures to go along with my writing if I don’t have them! It’s okay.
That’s just one example, but I’ve had a lot rollin’ around in my head recently, and having Nice Me tell me it’s okay has been a savior. The key is just taking the time to stop, take a breath, and ask a) what are you actually thinking? and b) why are you thinking it? If you’re like me and you historically struggle with keeping a grounded perspective and being way too hard on yourself, I strongly encourage you to make an active effort to tell yourself that no matter what happened, it’s okay. Because it is.