A Glimmer A Day

Are You an Anxious High Achiever With Unrelenting Standards?

Do you have impossibly high standards for yourself? Do you beat yourself up if you accidentally drop one of those ten precarious balls you are juggling? Do you often feel like you are spread so thinly that you can’t give your best and inevitably decide that you are just not good enough or doing enough? Do you look at others who outwardly appear to have their shit together and wish you could be that stylish, organised and chirpy? If so you are not alone. I’m pretty sure there are many of us out there, we know what we ‘should’ be doing to reach the goals we set for ourselves but just can’t seem to get there.

Pressure From Society

So why do we do this to ourselves? Is it pressure from society to be socially acceptable? Excel at school, get a great job preferably with a title and be a model employee rising through the ranks, buy a house and car, have a wonderful romantic relationship, be an amazing parent to wonderfully behaved and well- mannered children who are skilled at a variety of sports and activities. Cook delicious, healthy nutrient filled meals and be mortified if the scales start to creep up. Don’t forget to exercise regularly, maybe run the odd marathon or raise money for charity by swimming 2 kilometres a day for a month. You can’t forget the extended family, be a helpful son or daughter, organise get togethers, remember to buy gifts for everyone and to send Great Aunt Sadie a card for her 87th birthday. Always be there for your friends, the life and soul of the party and a listening ear when required but don’t moan too much about your problems, no one likes a moaner. It’s exhausting.

Maybe it comes from our childhoods and the expectations that were placed on us and how were parented, what circumstances we grew up in, was there any trauma?

Schema Therapy

I recently did a deep dive into Schema Therapy and found it incredibly interesting. There’s a wonderful podcast called the Good Mood Podcast created by two psychologists in Sydney, Australia. There are two episodes talking about the “Unrelenting Standards Schema” which was so insightful and very relevant to many of us who have unachievable high standards for ourselves. It’s well worth a listen if you are interested in learning about how your childhood moulded you into the adult you are today, what schema you subconsciously have and why it causes you to follow patterns in your behaviour and always react in a certain way to triggers. If you can discover what is at the root of why you are so hard on yourself then you can start to address it and put strategies in place to be kinder to yourself.

The Inner Critic

Having an overactive inner critic who likes to remind us exactly what we are doing wrong or not doing enough of cause our our mental health to suffer and we wannabe ‘high achievers’ often end up stressed with anxiety, depression and burnout. We are constantly dysregulated and chronically overwhelmed with an unhealthy dose of self- loathing thrown in. Apart from addressing where this negativity originated from what else can we do to stop being constantly hard on ourselves?

Self-compassion and self-acceptance.

Self-compassion is an important skill that can be learned. According to a study by Harvard University:

“Forgiving and nurturing yourself can set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being. Self-compassion yields a number of benefits, including lower levels of anxiety and depression. Self-compassionate people recognize when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, which reduces their anxiety and related depression.”

We hear the catchphrase “Be Kind” thrown about in many different arenas but it is rarely extended to ourselves, instead we denigrate ourselves for not doing enough for others. Learning self-compassion and to accept that you are enough and doing enough exactly as you are will go a long way to helping you understand that your impossible, unrelenting standards are causing you more harm than good.

Look For the Glimmers

Look for the glimmers. Yes you mightn’t have got that prestigious job you wanted but instead of spending lots of extra time in the office with added stress you are getting to spend more time with your beautiful dog who adores you. Maybe your child’s birthday cake is not going to be pinned on Pinterest but the look on your kid’s face when they see their half sea lion, half soccer ball cake will be worth it. Maybe you won’t be running marathons any decade soon, or you forgot to book your car service, that’s ok.

Start looking for your glimmers and do those things that bring you calm and bring you moments of joy. It will become a habit and you’ll find yourself feeling more content and happy with the little micro-joys in your life.

Ignore those voices pulling you in all directions. Your needs and wants are important too. Find little things that make you feel happy and hold onto them tightly, these are you glimmers. Your glimmers will help you through the tough days.