This is part 3 in a series on why we are so afraid to be ourselves, how that fear keeps us broke and invisible – and how to stop that shit.
Let’s face it: You’re going to screw up. Many, many times.
No matter how hard we try, being human means we can’t go without mucking up a few times. Perfection is unattainable.
In fact, perfection is an idea that is just as toxic as chasing it. If everyone was born perfect, what would be the point? No growth necessary. No lessons to learn.
God that’s boring. (More on overcoming this later.)
But how we handle the aftermath of our errors actually becomes the building blocks toward adulthood (and surviving as an adult). How we handle the emotional fall out, whether we push down feelings or embrace them, plays even further into this idea.
Because we’ve all tried to contain ourselves in some situation that ultimately ended in our own unraveling. A crash, a train wreck, a shit show of pent up anger or resentment seeping from us at the worst possible time.
That’ll leave most of us licking our wounds and bandaging up the others who were injured by the shrapnel.
Life is unavoidable, no matter how much we try to control it.
So how do you heal from it? How do you accept your part, learn lessons and move forward? How do you keep yourself from hiding away your faults and staying genuine?
Most people are told this isn’t something we should do, so we don’t. We brand ourselves based on the mistake and continue through life believing we’re a liar or cheater or (enter insult here) and live with that terrible fucking label.
We didn’t make the mistake. We ARE the mistake.
Nobody wins when this happens. Not you, your family and friends or your business.
Raw, human emotions bring raw, human interactions and moments. Accepting that means you regain your own humanity. You take back the power you felt you lost in an unpleasant moment.
Damn, that feels good.
Especially for businesswomen, accepting yourself is crucial. Not only does this make inhaling easier, but it will help you survive the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Think about it. You don’t expect perfection from your clients, otherwise they wouldn’t need you.
Why aren’t we extending the same courtesy to ourselves? Why is it so easy to justify the behaviors of others, but we punish ourselves and expect more?
What if, for just one day, we were able to give ourselves the same benefit of the doubt, the same compassion, we do everyone else?
I’ve asked a lot of rhetorical questions up to this point for a few reasons.
One – Because they effectively hold a mirror up so you must face the reality that you’re probably being really damn hard on yourself.
Two – Because they’re an effect of writing, and I can get behind that.
But if we do these things – accept ourselves the way we love and cherish other flawed people in our lives – we’d be forever changed.
I challenge you to try, and I don’t say that lightly.
I challenge you to take a step back every single time you judge yourself for something you don’t like. A mistake, a failed course or a blemish on your jawline. Because if you don’t hate your best friend for her hormonal acne, then there’s no reason to panic when you get a pimple.
Self-acceptance is one of the hardest, most rewarding battles we’ll ever encounter.
If you can embrace the pieces of you that you believe need to most work, if you can give yourself permission to stop being so damn hard on yourself, then making mistakes will not bring on the guilt and shame it used to. After, you won’t fear mistakes any longer.
Imagine the female entrepreneurs you know: The newbie without a website, the woman who throws out discounted rate after rate, the woman bringing in six-figures in her first year of business, and the new(ish) business who isn’t struggling to stay afloat, but isn’t earning what she wants, either.
If you put them all in a room, would you judge the space?
Would you refuse to enter it because someone isn’t as good as the next person?
Or could you learn something from each of those women? Gleaning insight from those with more experience and learning from the mistakes of the women who are still struggling to build.
You’re not going to avoid it entirely, right?
Just as you wouldn’t avoid that room, you shouldn’t avoid your own mistakes and victories. You can’t label them as bad or good. It’s not that simple.
You ARE that room of women.
Because you’ve been each of them at some point in your life, the successful one, the beginner, the struggler, and the middle ground.
Peace within yourself comes from acceptance.
Here’s an exercise to help you clear any self-inflicted injuries to your self-esteem.
Write down your criticisms of yourself, or the criticisms you’ve faced from other people. Maybe someone called you weird for your quirks, irrational for your emotions or selfish for choices you’ve made.
Think of the criticisms you’ve faced that have turned into beliefs. Things like:
- I am too protective of my children.
- My business model is inflexible.
- I spend too much time online.
I call these limiting beliefs, meaning they don’t allow you to accept yourself fully. Even if they are true, you’ve associated them with negative energy that holds you back, and we’re going to work through them so you can let go.
This step is crucial to your acceptance of yourself, and it’s something you’ll often have to do over and over again, especially when you’re being attacked by an outsider. My clients are well-aware that these nasty thoughts are the first things that have to be dealt with before we begin working on their businesses.
Because if they aren’t remedied, they follow you through the process of building, reminding you of problems or resistances, and holding you back from every truly appreciating the value you bring in all of your relationships.
This practice isn’t new to me, but it’s so powerful that I watch my former clients use it with their new ones. It’s practical too, something we can all do at any point.
In order to let go of anything, you must first acknowledge it. It doesn’t mean it has to be true either. In fact, you’ll probably find some that are easily dismissible.
Create your list, writing it down old school style (pen and paper).
Then start with the first thing you’ve listed and write down three ways this limiting belief is not true or, if it is true, the ways it benefits you.
I am too protective of my children.
- As a mother, it’s part of my job to protect my children.
- I want my kids to learn from their mistakes so I do not always rush to their rescue (especially at school).
- I have set boundaries with them and provided rules. As long as they follow our established expectations, I let them live their lives freely.
Notice that each of your responses doesn’t necessarily have to completely eradicate the belief. Instead, it shows an acceptance of it. It’s like saying, “You are right, sometimes I am protective of my kids.” Because maybe it’s true, and okay.
If you can accept yourself as you are, instead of being defensive (read: “Well, maybe you should protect your kids more”), you are practicing a form of acceptance most people don’t. Because we aren’t eager to take things as they are.
Do this with every belief you’ve listed. If you get stuck, if you find yourself getting defensive, remind yourself that perfection is impossible. If you’re doing your best, that’s all that matters.
Think about that room full of women again. This list? It’s the same damn thing and it’s all about perception.