We are women. Hear us roar.
Other days, not so much.
In fact, on many days we’re more likely to be second guessing our decisions, talking ourselves down and beating up on ourselves for falling short of the high bar we set for ourselves.
Too many actually.
If you’re like me, and an awful lot of other women I meet, you’re probably pretty hard on yourself and often focus more on what you have not done, or did not totally nail, versus all that you have done and did nail!
That’s not to say some men can’t be tough on themselves also. However, when it comes to honing in on our shortcomings and mastering self-recrimination, women reign supreme. It explains why, despite our best intentions to ‘forget perfect’ and live our ‘best life’ (and all the other platitudes that pepper our social media feeds), we often feel like we’re falling short. Way short. So short in fact that we’re constantly waiting for other people to cotton on to the fact that we’re ‘not all we’re cracked up to be’. #impostersyndrome
If you relate in any way, rest assured, you’re not alone.
In fact, you’re in the company of a legion of other ‘flawsome’ women – many of them immensely capable and incredibly accomplished – who often wrestle with a lingering sense of inadequacy, as though they are not ‘enough’ of something.
Not successful enough… organized enough…confident enough… funny enough… slim enough… talented enough…experienced enough…disciplined enough… thoughtful enough… capable enough… worthy enough.
Let’s face it, we live in a society that celebrates perfectionism even as it censures it. Bombarded 24/7 with messages and imagery urging us to step up, shape up and live up to some idealised image of success, brilliance, beauty and ‘got-it-all-togetherness,’ it’s little wonder we often feel like we’re just not cutting it. Or if we are managing to keep it all together (including abs to die for, a killer career and adorable kids), that at any moment, we will fall behind.
Of course, as an intelligent woman, you intellectually understand that no one can be at their all-time best, all the time. Yet despite our intellectual grasp of this idea, we are still masters at using our fallen moments as a baton to beat up on ourselves. This means we beat up on ourselves often. Of course, if you’re a new mom, double it. If you’re a working mother, double it again.
As the author of several books often placed in the ‘self-help’ shelves, no irony is lost on me as I advise that the very best self-help will always begin with self-compassion… cutting yourself some slack and getting off your own back.
Counter intuitive as it may sound, when we are kinder to ourselves, embracing our fallibility and not over-personalising our failures, we don’t lower the bar and retreat to our sofa to binge on ice cream or down our favorite bottle of red (though such therapy has its place). In fact, just the opposite! We expand our courage to take on bolder goals and grow our resilience to bounce back faster when our efforts fall short of the mark.
So if you often feel like you are not measuring up and have grown a little (or a lot) jaded by the endless advice on how to be your ‘best self’, then my best advice for you is to give yourself permission to be fabulous and fallible, innately worthy and wholly imperfect… all at the same time!
Countless times over the years, raising my four kids, supporting my husband, taking care of sick siblings and aging parents, I’ve fallen short of being the forever loving-generous-organised-patient woman I’d love to be. I’ve also mad more than my share of missteps in pursuing my passion outside the home. But along the way I’ve learnt that our greatest growth doesn’t flow from the times life is easy or the parts of us that are flawless. It flows from those part of us that we’ve been wrestling with our entire life; the vulnerable parts that dial up a notch or ten when plans go awry or life presses in on us.
In the end, we are not so much human beings as we are ‘human becomings.’ It takes our whole life to peel away the layers of fear, self-doubt and self-consciousness to become the full quota of the woman we have it within us to become. We help that process along each time we look our fear in the mirror and make the conscious decision not to let it call the shots. Each time we do, we dilute the power fear can wield in our lives and amplify our own.
It’s in the space of giving up on the idea of ever fully ‘arriving’ that we open a window to a deeper dimension of living. One in which we can savor more moments of wonder and gratitude for the magical mystery tour that is life. One in which we are able to love ourselves for who we truly are, and not the idealised image of the infallible super woman we think we’re supposed to be.
Just imagine what possibilities could open up for you if, every day (or just as often as you can manage it), you stepped out into the world from the deep knowing that you don’t have to be more or less of anything in order to be ‘enough’ —
To be ready enough, good enough, accomplished enough, smart enough, worthy enough.
Imagine, if instead of continually striving to be the woman you think you should be, you embraced the innate adequacy of the woman you already are?
As the problems in our world seem to grow larger, I believe it’s paramount that we women stop talking ourselves down and step into our power as change makers, beginning with stop short changing ourselves.
So if there’s anything you get from reading this article, it’s this:
Doubt yourself less, back yourself more and own your ‘enoughness.’
As you do, decide you will not wait until ‘one day’ to decide that you are ready enough, deserving enough, brave enough or together enough before you dare to try.
Only by daring to pursue the highest vision for your life right now, to defy the voice of that critic in your head, can you ever come to realise how little reason you ever had to doubt yourself to begin with.
Not only that, but when you embrace your humanity, own your fallibility and choose to show up fully, authentically, as the ‘flawsome’ woman that you are, you give other women permission to do the same. To roar… unapologetically.
What greater gift there is?
About the Author
Margie Warrell is an perfectly imperfect mother of four, bestselling author, coach, and international speaker who is passionate about emboldening women to live bigger, braver lives. She will be running her Live Brave Women’s Weekend (near Washington DC) this October 25-27. To learn more visit www.LiveBraveWeekend.com
Visit her website at www.margiewarrell.com