I think we all can relate to negative self-talk.
At some point, usually when we’re about to do something epic, a tiny voice creeps in and tells us that we’re not good enough to do it. And when we hear that voice, we stop dead in our tracks, and we let our self-doubt take over.
I have always considered myself a high-achiever. I wanted to be the best (at everything), and my career and personal relationships always sat at the top of that list.
The thing about being a high achiever is that I wanted to be everything to everyone. And unbeknownst to me at the time, that thought stemmed from the idea that I didn’t believe I was enough (just as I was). So naturally I overcompensated, which manifests in the following three symptoms below.
Symptom 1: Perfectionism
We’re probably all familiar with this one. We try to be perfect to avoid criticism. The narrative in our head might be, “What if they hate it?” We don’t want to risk humiliation or being judged for who we are, or the work we do, so as a result, we don’t share anything until it’s just right.
I watched my boss give the same presentation for a year before I felt confident and capable enough to do it on my own. I’ve also been guilty of spending hours writing a blog post before I submit it. And although it keeps me safe because it’s often well-received, there is a downside to all of this.
It’s absolutely draining! In fact, it’s debilitating. I wouldn’t be sharing any bit of me because the idea of how much energy it’s going to take would stop me before I even started. In fact, if I didn’t work on letting go of perfectionism on an ongoing basis, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now!
Symptom 2: Control
We live for certainty, so naturally we try to control every situation. We know what we want, how we want it, and anything outside of that feels foreign and scary. The narrative here might be, “I know what’s best,” and therefore we micro-manage, or we plan for the worst—which means we have a Plan B for our Plan B.
But what’s wrong with that? Who doesn’t like to be in control?
The problem with trying to control every outcome is that it leads to a lot of pressure, which then leads to a lot of frustration. And let’s be honest here, how effective really is micro-managing when it comes to the people that we love and work with? We’re so busy planning for the next shoe to drop, we miss out on being present in the moment or being open to other opportunities arising that might be even better for us.
Symptom 3: People Pleasing
Of course, when we want to be the best at everything, we also want to be the most well-liked. The common narrative for this one may be, “Let’s not rock the boat here.”
Because I avoided confrontation at all costs, I would end up saying yes to everything, even though what I really wanted to say was no. And this served me well in a sense that I had a lot of friends, and I think many would describe me as nice, understanding, and accommodating.
It’s not “bad” to be perfect or to please people, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our happiness and needs. When we give too much of ourselves, we end up running on empty, and that ends up being a disservice not only to us, but to the people we love and support.
So what’s the remedy to all of this?
First it’s acknowledging that the negative self-talk even exists, and then it’s about getting familiar with the narrative. The more we become conscious of it the less power it has over us.
The truth is, these symptoms are here to mask the fear of being vulnerable. It’s a coping mechanism to combat the narrative of “I’m not enough.” We try so hard to be everything other than who we really are, because we’re scared that showing up as ourselves will end up disappointing us (and others). We let that negative self-talk chew away at our confidence, and we shy away from believing in our unlimited potential, trusting the universe, and setting healthy boundaries.
Then it’s about how we speak to ourselves.
“Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it hope. Feed it truth. Feed it with love.” ~ Anonymous
I am incredibly passionate when I say that we are meant for an extraordinary life. We have unlimited potential, and we deserve to wake up each morning with the mindset of “I want to,” and not, “I have to,” or, “I need to.”
I believe that when we know we are enough (and we practise radical self-love on a regular basis), miracles can happen. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, because we are good enough, smart enough, brave enough, and incredibly worthy enough to live a life we love.
Author: Mandy Wong
Image: Laughing Migy
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis