By: Sarah Normandin – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
When we feel like we need to compete for our place, say in our career or with relationships or any of the things we think we need to make us happy, we can get single-minded. We can push and compare and tear ourselves and others apart over and over until we have nothing left but fear and isolation. Because even if you do get to the top or are considered “the best,” nothing really changes. Your mind just looks for the next thing it thinks it needs to find security.
I’ve seen this play out time and again with myself and others. We want something so badly – we’ll do anything to get it and then once it comes – you get the job or the award or the money or the relationship – you’re still you. You still feel insecure because a momentary boost from getting what you wanted, is well, momentary. Then you want more money or a different job or the relationship is hard. You need something else to make you feel better again.
And actually, this is fine. We want to create and expand and grow – it’s just that when we tie our well-being to our accomplishments – it’s not a long term solution to not feeling good about ourselves. Then we combine a scarcity mindset with low-esteem, and we’ve got an even bigger problem. The mind is set on building self-worth through achievement, which is a recipe for exhaustion, burnout and all that good stuff.
Working with this mindset takes, unfortunately, a lot of work. It is catching yourself in a moment of judgment, comparison, or self-criticism and noticing what’s happening. It’s taking a break in those moments and looking at the beliefs that are coming up and then engaging in counter practices. It’s reminding yourself of your inherent goodness, of your own path, and that winning is not equal to happiness. It is sometimes choosing to opt-out and learning to manage the discomfort this may cause.
I think the ultimate thing we are trying to teach ourselves here is that the biggest reward comes from accepting ourselves – other people and circumstances cannot be relied on. But if we know that someone always loves us unconditionally (that being ourselves) then we’ve got something to fall back on when things get hard. We practice making unpopular choices. We practice not always putting out our best work. We practice attending to our own needs rather than trying to look like we have it together for everyone else. And we struggle, A LOT.
But there is also hope. Hope that we can find our way without burning ourselves out. Hope that we can feel joy in smaller places, in familiar comforts. Hope that we can be more bold because we care less about what we look like to others. Hope that we can see and hear and know ourselves in surprising ways. Hope that we can discover ourselves when we stop trying so hard. Hope that we can find more ease within ourselves rather than outside ourselves. Hope that we can heal and know that in many ways our healing is already done.
Sarah is a therapist and coach who has been supporting women for over 12 years in creating lives that align with their own values. As a mother and a wife, she understands the complexity of modern life and how to manage stress while juggling many responsibilities. She believes in having fun, taking naps and saying no as often as possible. If you’re interested in exploring motherhood, imperfection and doing less to have more–or just want someone to tell you to take a break, you can find her at sarahnormandin.com.
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