“What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.”
~ Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life
We all have beliefs that help us move forward and grow. This blog, however, is about those beliefs that sabotage us in ways we don’t always consciously realize. I call them “Elephants in the Room.” They represent our negative self-talk and are always with us unless we confront and tame them. Otherwise, they can negatively impact our performance at work.
Elephants are limiting beliefs we carry, which can become hefty burdens. Sometimes, we lead more than one Elephant, occasionally many. But unfortunately, elephants are firmly held beliefs that keep us from expressing our unique gifts, preventing us from getting out of our comfort zone, creating boundaries, developing effective work habits, and achieving our desires.
We all have Elephants that accompany us, and they become more burdensome each year. You may not be aware of yours, and they may have served you well in the past but create obstacles now.
Here are a few of the more prevalent heavy-duty Elephants.
I have a significant Elephant I have lugged around for a long time! My Elephant’s name is “Perfectionism.” The Oxford dictionary defines Perfectionism as the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
It was helpful in grade school because I developed discipline and earned good grades. But unfortunately, perfection creates unrealistically high expectations and a fear of making mistakes. As a result, I felt others would judge me badly. Ironically, I have been my harshest critic. Therein lies a significant problem. When we insist on striving for perfection, we are abusing ourselves. We keep raising the bar, are unable to reach it, and criticize ourselves for not making it. That doesn’t make sense. We become our biggest bullies!
Let’s take small steps to tame this beast. “Let’s not sweat the small stuff” should be our Mantra. Perfectionism is not worth the high cost to our self-worth.
Thoughts to Consider:
- We learn through repetition.
- Practice leads to optimal outcomes.
- Mistakes are not failures; they are learning opportunities.
- Review your expectations –lower them to a reasonable level.
For perfectionists, what do you think? What triggers your Perfectionism? How do you feel when you don’t meet your high standards?
When we fail to reach perfection (always out of reach), it makes us feel smaller, less than, and not good enough, another famous Elephant.
When we feel we are not good enough, our negative self-talk kicks in. For example, it whispers I can’t get it right, lack the skills or smarts to do a job, or am less than others. We work extra hard so people won’t find out.
Yet we forget what got us here were those unique skills, smarts, and competence. Unfortunately, we compare ourselves to others. We think they are more intelligent, capable, whatever. Then we stress and criticize ourselves while we strive to do our best. When recognized, this Elephant says we did an excellent job covering the truth! Our negative thinking doesn’t get us anywhere but more stressed and unhappy. Instead, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
Thoughts to consider:
- Robert Fulghum said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” So start debunking all those negative judgments.
- Determined to “get it right” gets you nowhere but down.
- It is time to tame those Elephants with positive self-talk about the skills and intelligence we bring.
- Celebrate your successes.
The last Elephant in the Room I will bring up is the People Pleaser.
People Pleaser Syndrome
A people-pleaser is constantly saying yes to requests putting others’ needs before their own. They are the first to volunteer. “No” is not in their vocabulary. Being kind and helpful are wonderful traits, but disregarding self-care to care for others can lead to self-neglect.
We receive many requests, and If you say yes to everything, you will over-commit. Eventually, you will fall short of your deadlines. Not only will you begin to feel resentment, but it will negatively affect your credibility.
Over time, being a people pleaser creates a physical and an emotional toll.
This Elephant can run you ragged unless you begin to take steps to develop your self-care.
Thoughts to consider:
- Take care of yourself first, so you have the energy to take care of others.
- Start creating boundaries. I love Brene Brown’s simple definition: “What’s OK and what’s not OK.”
- Practice saying “no.” Remember, “no” is not a four-letter word!
- Pause and decide before committing.
These Elephants may not be yours. Many other types could be affecting your decisions.
Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.