If you’re like a lot of people I meet, you may feel that despite all your best intentions to live your best life, your moments of feeling like you’re at your best are far less often than you’d like.
If so, you’re not alone. As social media pummels us from every angle with tips and strategies to “live your best life” more and more people are starting to show signs of what I call “best-self fatigue.”
Let’s face it; we live in a society that at every turn, we’re bombarded with messages urging us to live up to some idealised image of beauty, brilliance, inner harmony and got-it-all-togetherness. And while most women I know may intellectually understand that no one can feel like they’re at their best all the time, we still use our fallen moments as a baton to beat up on ourselves. (If you’re a mother, double it!)
It’s why the best self-help must always begin with self-compassion; accepting that no matter how hard we may try to be forever generous-spirited or brave-hearted or ‘insert-virtue-here’, we will inevitably fall short. And that’s okay.
In fact, new studies are finding that it’s not self-esteem or optimism that helps people bounce back from trauma and major adversity, it’s self-compassion. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when we are kind to ourselves, embracing our fallibility and accepting our flaws, we don’t lower the bar, descend into despair, or ‘slothdom,’ and undo all our hard work. In fact, just the opposite – we expand our capacity for action, connection, and contribution and recover faster from our heartaches.
So if you’ve grown a little jaded by all the advice on how to live your ‘best life,’ my best advice is to cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to be fabulous and fallible, innately loveable and wholly imperfect. All at the same time.
I recently relocated up to Singapore and had more than my usual share of fallen moments where I’ve been far from the woman I most want to be. But it’s been those moments where I’ve realised that our deepest fulfilment in life doesn’t flow from the parts of us that are flawless; it flows from the parts of us that we’ve been wrestling with our entire life and that dial up a notch or two when life is pressing in on us. The rough and raw parts that make us real, relatable and allow us to forge the most authentic connections with others.
In the space of giving up on perfection, we open a window to experience more moments of genuine joy, connection, gratitude, freedom, and fulfilment. I mean, just imagine what possibilities could open up for you if, every single day (or just as often as you can manage it), you stepped out into the world with the deep knowing that you don’t have to be more or less of anything in order to be ‘enough’ — to be loveable enough, good enough, smart enough, worthy enough.
Imagine, if instead of continually striving to be the person you think you should be, you embraced the innate adequacy of the person you already are?
Finally, imagine the subtle yet profoundly liberating shift it would make if you stopped focusing on all your shortcomings, and gave yourself just one minute, every day, to acknowledge all that you have done, given and learned.
As I wrote in Make Your Mark, it’s well past time to “own your enoughness” and to get off your own back. Because not only is the best self-help self-compassion, but when you own your imperfection and choose to show up as the flawsome human becoming that you are, you permit others to do the same. What greater gift is there for those you love?
Margie Warrell is a speaker, author, coach and women’s leadership advocate. If you’d like to join her May Live Brave Women’s Weekend next May register your interest here.