Suffering From ‘Best-Self’ Fatigue?
Greetings from Palm Springs! I’m here to speak at the Anytime Fitness Conference where I’m surrounded by 2,000+ fitness professionals. It’s an interesting experience that’s required me to practice my own advice and “own my enoughness” because I’ve been feeling markedly not fit ‘enough’ among this crowd!
You obviously don’t have to go to a fitness conference to be hit with advice on how to be your “best-self” or live your “best life”. Just walk into a book store or scroll your Facebook feed!
Yet, 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 I travel around the world speaking, I encounter more and more people suffering from “best-self fatigue,” moving from one magic bullet self-help remedy to the next.
We live in a society that celebrates perfectionism even as it censures it. 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 even though we 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 woman, double it. If you’re a mother, double it again!)
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’, give yourself permission to be fabulous and fallible, innately lovable and wholly imperfect – all at the same time!
What I’m slowly learning, from plenty of moments where I’ve fallen far short of being the woman I most want to be is this:
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. 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 give others permission to do the same. What greater gift is there for those you love?