Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

I spent a good portion of my life as a perfectionist. I don't know if I was subconciously trying to keep up with my older sister who graduated first in her medical class or if I am naturally anxious and driven, but my obsession to be the best at everything nearly killed me.

Please, I repeat please, do not attempt to do this at home.

I wanted the immaculate house, the stellar grades, the flawless life. By forty, or so, I was so tired I could hardly function. I couldn't sleep, eat, or live well. I was an absolute wreck.

Our culture preaches perfectionism. Teachers encourage us to get superior grades so that we can earn scholarships. Home improvement channels convince many that they must have the latest kitchen, bathroom, or landscape design. Magazines celebrate physical perfection, fame, and wealth. It's enough to make a person crazy!

Think about the thoughts you hear running around in your head: "Should have," "could have," "must," "have to," "would have." The list of self-berating thoughts goes on and on and on. We over-schedule, over-work, and over-do, and find ourselves emotionally and physically spent.

So if you find you're being a little too hard on yourself, here are a few suggestions to make your life more peaceful:

Schedule some time for self-renewal. Take the time to pray, meditate, and enjoy the beauties of nature. Give yourself permission to just be. God does not expect us to run faster than we can walk, and too many of us are trying to do that. Slow down. Smell the roses. Listen to the birds singing. Just be.

Manage your time. Eliminate unnecessary activities that are draining your spirit. Do your children have to be enrolled in five activities after school? Do you have to do everything asked of you? Can you say "no" to a few unessential things so you can say "yes" to more fun, rewarding activities?

Celebrate your humanity. Pat yourself on the back when you make a mistake and say, "Wow, I'm human! Isn't it wonderful that I'm alive!" During the day replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. You might say to yourself, "I am peaceful, loving, and calm person," or "I am a precious child of God," or "I am beautifully and wonderfully made." Repeat these affirmations frequently throughout the day. Write them down and put them in often-viewed places. Include healing words, music, and media in your surroundings.

Have more fun. I used to feel that all my work had to be finished before I could play. Since I was raising four very active children, I worked too much and played too little. Take a break and enjoy life. Take a walk, go bowling, read a good book, play with a child. Life flies by and suddenly our knees quit working and our backs wear out. Treasure each day that God has given you and find ways to glorify Him as you celebrate life.

In your journal, list your strengths, your talents, and your blessings. Underneath the list, write in bold letters, "I am an amazing person. God loves me just the way I am." Read your lists whenever your are feeling unworthy, unloved, and inadequate. Remember, no one in the entire universe is just like you--with your unique gifts, personality, and skills. God invites you to enjoy everyday life--starting today.

© Carol Brown


  1. Thank you for posting this! I can see that because I am so hard on myself (internally, that is, because you sure can't see perfection in what I've done by looking at it!), I am transferring the same thing to my 10 year old daughter. She must feel like nothing she does is good enough. I need to chill out. Thanks!

  2. thank you and God bless you
    I wonder how hard I have been so many times
    Is it possible it is this build up thoughts of expectations. Could it be people put wrong expectations on us and many people put high expectations on themselves, "I suppose to do this and that", or "I need to be this and that by this and that time". Maybe it is good to have some plans, but things don't come the way we think. Could it be this very thing about being too hard on ourselves can put friction and brake in our enjoyment of life. We need to let go of certain things and relax, enjoy and have laughter. Even in marriage to have a good time and enjoy time and be who we are. Do we always need to be who people expect us to be or we think we need to be in their sight? Don't we need to learn to be ourselves, but of course, with our freedom shouldn't give way to sin and trouble people with foolish acting.
    People I guess need sabbaticals too. There is I believe a balance in how we live. Sure, serving at church is good and making sacrifices, but if it takes necessary time away with kids and wife and even other extended family members that is too much. We need to recharge. I wonder for many people, such as pastors did this so much serving maybe in out of proportion cost their marriage etc. I'm a human, but I think I need to have some untroubled mind and heart from always, "I need to be here and there right now, etc". I'm thinking there is a time for things. What is this always running around and being too busy and too much about quantity and not quality. What good is it if someone serves, but he is spend and next time he feels it is enough, I'm quitting. I'm thinking time needs to be managed well, and take time to rest as well.


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