My Personal Journey…and the Words that Changed My Life
In my last newsletter, I shared some stories of extreme under- and over-use of the Emotional Intelligence competency of Self-Regard. Today, you’ll hear my story.
I grew up trying to be perfect. It has been a strong driver in my life for as long as I can remember.
Maybe the catholic school upbringing had something to do with it, holistically a very positive experience instilling a strong ethical foundation…with, in my memory, a high premium on achieving expectations.
Choosing a career as a U.S. Army officer—a not-so-subtle way of escaping the ‘good girl’ upbringing by opting for a non-traditional male-dominated career path--there was a saying that put my obsession for perfection in hyper-drive—
“Women have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition.”
To your best potential,
In my mind that meant any mistake, any slip-up was an indication that I did not deserve to be here.
Perfectionism is an indicator of poor mastery of Self-Regard.
I saw every mistake I made as a character flaw and it renewed my vow to do better to prove to myself and others that I was good enough. I would internally obsess about any weakness in myself; and downplay my positive attributes—anything that turned out well must have been luck and there was always something I should have done better.
The Army was a perfect (no pun intended) place to mask my struggle with Self-Regard since what we did could be dangerous business and any slip-up could cost someone’s life.
I tried to cover all bases so there were no mistakes--whether a logistical error that would impact troop safety (perfection: good) or a word choice in a memo (perfection: overkill). I worked my butt off trying to achieve a level of perfection that would prove that I was indeed good enough, indeed deserving of this success.
I slowly came to realize how these self-imposed expectations were holding me back from achieving the goals I wanted in my career and in my personal life. This perfectionism driven by my poor Self-Regard was taking too much time, too much effort, impacting too many relationships…and there was no time or energy left over to create the life I really wanted.
It took me years of practice--and some months working with a coach--to change my thought patterns to a place of healthy Self-Regard. I'm there now.
The journey to healthier Self-Regard was hard. I had embedded thought patterns that took a lot of practice to re-wire.
The words below have done more than anything else to change my default behaviors from obsessive perfectionism to healthy acceptance and openness. Several of my clients have told me that of all the development work we did together, this one thought is guaranteed to pull them back to healthy Self-Regard over and over.
From the book, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW:
“No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.
Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, and that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
Brene Brown is a researcher who analyzes shame and vulnerability, something all of us experience--even men; it is just a bit more buried by societal expectations of what men should be. You can get a taste of Brene Brown’s groundbreaking research through her TED Talks: On Vulnerability, Listening to Shame.
Would a better mastery of Emotional Intelligence help you to achieve more of what you want in your life? Contact us to discuss how the EQi 2.0 can support your professional and self-development.
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