“I’m not good enough.”
“Everyone is better than me.”
“Why is everyone else more confident than me?”
I think it’s easier for our self worth to take a battering now than maybe any other time in our history. We are bombarded with so many altered airbrushed images of perfection which distorts a realistic perception of reality. Social media and television keeps showing us people who are apparently living “that dream life,” and we will naturally compare ourselves with what we see and this can make us feel very bad indeed. As most people wear masks hiding their inner struggles, we get to see their masks of confident perfection which make us question what we are doing wrong. That frantic search for answers can cause a lot of problems as it can take over someones thought patterns and become an obsession as they pick at themselves.
“How did they get to be so happy?” One client told me. “I’m such a failure!”
“Are they really that happy?” I asked.
“Everyones seems happier than I am, so together and confident, I just feel so awful inside, nervous and I just want to get out of there.” (referring to social events).
“I bet if you asked the people you are comparing yourself with how they really feel, you would be surprised at the answers. Most people I know, no matter how they appear in the outside have their own issues and struggles going on inside, they just don’t show it. We all are have our own personal inner battles with life due to our mental flaws and the circumstances that life brings our way. We don’t tend to show them as we don’t want to look a failure and less important so instead we put on that fake smile and show the best of us.
We live in a world where we naturally have to compare ourselves with everyone around us, we might be aware of it consciously or not as it’s happening subconsciously. If you are being exposed to people who seem to be perfect in various areas of their lives to you then you will naturally compare and wonder what you are doing wrong. The hidden secret really is that they worry too, some less than others but everyone wants to feel important, loved and relevant and if anything risks that then anxiety can begin to kick in.
The answer for this client was to come back down to earth, wake up, be more present so they can be more grounded and sift through delusions their mind was using to make them feel bad. Reminding ourselves that we are all struggle with life in our own way no matter how it appears can take the pressure off. We used some therapies to bring back out of the mind forgotten strengths and resources. They began to see selves differently and through a few self realisations, found that they could let go of the self perfection trap and focus on the most important things in life which helped them become more relaxed with life.
Life’s too short to believe that the masks we all wear to appear one way are real. We all struggle inside in various areas and that’s ok. We cannot be perfect in anything so there is no point trying. I embrace not being good enough as simply a reminder to change what I can and let go of what I can’t. My clients can learn that too.
Mindset is Paul Sheppard based in Brighton and Hove and available for therapy sessions online or in person.
This article originally appeared as Faking Perfectionism back in April 2013 and has been modified for 2014.