DOWNSIDE OF BEING AN OVERACHIEVER?
It has to be done like this or what’s the point of doing it?
Always looking for perfection?
Everything has to be flawless?
Constant worry to surpass your past self?
Constant need to prove yourself to the world over and over again?
Expecting too much out of your own self leads to severe disappointment and lowers your self-esteem. It makes you a slave to your own negative thought pattern. We tend to be reasonable when we are dealing with others but when it comes to maintaining our own high standards, we become unreasonable and stubborn. It further leads to burnout, anxiety and sometimes even depression.
The following is story which sheds light to the aforementioned issue:
She is a 28 year old female with a demanding and a stressful job as a second year medical resident in a reputed hospital. She was a high achiever and had always maintained high academic standards in both college as well as in medical school making her self-critical. Lately, she has significant feelings of worthlessness and shame due to her inability to perform well when she compared it with her past records.
Physically, she felt unusually fatigued and had difficulty in concentrating. Her co-workers have noticed that she was often irritable and withdrawn, which was remarkably different from her typically optimistic and friendly disposition. On some days, she has stayed in bed all day, watched TV or slept. At home, her husband has noticed changes as well. She has shown little interest in sex and has had difficulties falling asleep at night. (“Case Studies”,2017)
If she was under therapy model followed at Athoz for a months’ time she would have been taught mindfulness based techniques like Mindfulness based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy etc.
The above story highlights certain important points:
- WHEN IT IS TOO MUCH?
There are simple ways to identify if you are expecting too much out of your self (Agathangelou, 2017)
- Unrealistic standards- feelings like you are not good enough, can never attain a goal etc.
- I can never go wrong- not giving yourself the room to explore or allowing yourself to make mistakes, expecting it to get it right in the first go and expecting to be great at every task.
- Overlooking the positives- looking for errors/ slip ups/ mistakes or imperfection and putting yourself down for the same.
- Other’s needs above mine- putting your wants in the last of your priority list, being the people pleaser, want to be or expected to be liked by all etc.
- Always looking into the other person’s plate- comparing your work with another, or just comparing yourself to someone else on different grounds and calculating your worth through it.
- Never say ‘NO”- even if the plate is filled to the brim you cannot say no to another task or person. There is no free time time or time to even rest leading to extreme burnout.
- Achievement is all that matters- you derive your sense of worth or your self- esteem depends upon your past as well as your current achievements.
- Its 100% or you failed: always trying to be the best and if not, you deem yourself to be a failure.
- WHAT DOES IT LEAD TO?
- Low Self-Esteem: You tend to reply so much on others and your work that you tend to value yourself or calculate your worth on how they see you and your work.
- A Lack of Self-Compassion: you feel to accept life the way it is. There is a failure to embrace pleasures, distresses and even imperfections as a part of who you are that is, human.
- Rigid Sense of Self: Your definition of who you are completely depends upon your goal, hence if you achieve them you feel good and if you don’t, you feel bad. You have become so rigid in defining who you are that you cannot find any other way of doing the same.
- Unrealistic Goals: You start setting goals which are not unrealistic and impossible to achieve making you further feel disappointed and like a failure.
- Disappointment: Statements like “I am a loser”; “I can’t even do such a basic thing”; “I don’t even know why I am earning so much” etc. are few statements that not only show your disappoint in your own self but also aggravates it to another level.
- Physiological Symptoms: when you are unable to manage your emotions properly, they tend to show up in form of physiological symptoms like lack of sleep, overeating or no eating at all, crying bouts etc.
- HOW TO “NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH?”
No matter how simply one states it, it is not an easy task. It involves self-monitoring and self-regulation and constant vigilance. Some simple techniques that one could use are:
- Embrace Imperfection: Be realistic; be human. As Maud Purcell (Purcell, 2017) puts it in her article “Successful Mistakes” that “As human beings we err regularly … Unfortunately, we tend to view errors as failures. We overlook the possibility that the seeds of success are planted within our blunders.” Learning from making errors is the best form of learning; you gain insight as well as experience. Be Mindful of that experience.
- Explore, Believe and Trust: when we expect too much out of our own self, we sit at the pedestal and judge our very own self harshly. If we set goals that are unrealistic, we tend to move towards it with blind eye to other areas which we could explore and try. Have goals but realistic ones and along with them a need to experience things which are beyond what you could have imagined for yourself.
- Be willing to let go but to do so we need to trust our own self. We need to feel that no matter what comes our way we will be able to handle it.
- Learn to say “NO”: simply say ‘no’ when you feel that you cannot take in more work.
- Make the Inner Child happy: Do things that once made you happy; it will not only make you feel contented but would boost your self-esteem.
Don’t expect too much from yourself. What I like to do when I have a day off is make various cookie doughs and freeze them. Then I always have that on hand if I need it. ~ Giada De Laurentiis
Agathangelou, F. (2017). How Not to Expect Too Much From Yourself | Building Self-Esteem – HealthyPlace. HealthyPlace. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/07/do-you-expect-too-much-from-yourself/
Case Studies. (2017). Psyweb.com. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.psyweb.com/Casestudies/CaseStudies.jsp
Do You Expect Too Much from Yourself?. (2017). Psychology Today. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intimacy-path-toward-spirituality/201601/do-you-expect-too-much-yourself
How to Stop Expecting Too Much from People. (2017). wikiHow. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Expecting-Too-Much-from-People
Purcell, M. (2017). Make ‘Successful’ Mistakes | Psych Central. Psych Central. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/make-successful-mistakes/