I’ve had a number of emails lately from women who are disappointed in themselves. They have set themselves standards and have, in their own eyes, failed to live up to them. They hope to do things, achieve goals, live better lives. And when that hope is crushed by their own ‘failure’ they are left frustrated.
They want to know my secret, how did I manage to completely change my life. How do I achieve my goals. The answer – I don’t, at least not always. I fail, just like everyone else.
We ALL sometimes feel that we have failed, that we could be so much more, or achieve so much more. We don’t always live up to our own standards:
- We don’t stick to good habits
- We aren’t as productive as we had planned to be
- We leave tasks undone
- We fail to be the best wife, mother or friend
- We aren’t as disciplined as we would like to be
- We don’t stick to a healthy eating plan
- We don’t exercise as much as we know we should
We know we should be doing the right thing, but we don’t. And that can be disappointing and extremely frustrating.
So what can we do about it? How do we deal with disappointment and frustration in ourselves?
I don’t have all the answers, but here are some of the strategies I have used to deal with these feelings of failure:
Step 1: The Signals
If we can be aware of our feelings, turn inward and get to know them, we can quickly spot if we are experiencing feelings of disappointment and frustration in ourselves.
Are there any habits you have not stuck to? Have you fallen off the healthy eating waggon? Are there goals that have not been accomplished? Tasks that have not been completed? Projects that have been pushed to one side due to procrastination? Relationships that you have not worked on?
How do you feel? Our feelings are our mind and body’s way of communicating, they give us the signals that tell us that we have expectations of ourselves that we aren’t meeting.
Step 2: Giving Yourself A Little Space
Now that we are aware of the signals, it’s time to give these feelings a little space. Allow them to simply be. Don’t push them away. Give your feelings a bit of breathing room.
Acknowledge that you are feeling bad and accept that this is normal.
Step 3: Cut Yourself Some Slack
If a member of your family or a friend was hurting like you are now what would you do? How would you comfort them? Maybe a hug, some compassionate words, some love?
Take a moment to comfort yourself. You deserve a hug (or a cwtch as we say in Wales), some words of kindness, some love. You might feel a bit silly, but try telling yourself that you deserve to cut yourself some slack.
Step 4: See The Joy Of The Present
Now that we’ve cut ourselves a bit of slack, let’s try changing the story we’re telling ourselves.
This is the story so far: “I’m not good at X. I feel really bad about not being good at X.”
But let’s look at it this way: “I’m not good at X. I have failed at X. But I’ve succeeded in doing lots of other things. I have tried. I have achieved a lot. I am not perfect, but I have good intentions. I am the best self I can be, even though I have imperfections. I have cared. I have loved. I have strived to be better. I have made an effort. Not always, but I have. My achievements, attributes and determination deserve recognition, and I deserve love for being the best ‘me’ I can be. I will keep trying, but for now I am grateful for the moment I am in.”
Think about the present, this moment. What is awesome about yourself right now, in this moment?
Step 5: Be Curious
Moving forward, try to be more curious about the day ahead, and life in general. We can’t know EXACTLY what the day will bring, what our working day will be like, or our relationships, or our habits. So let’s find out!
Be curious, try to have an attitude of not knowing. Expectations will be present, and maybe we will fail to live up to them, and we will feel frustration and disappointment again. And that will annoy us because we wan’t to be great at being in the present and curious. But that’s OK. That’s how life works – by constantly renewing, constantly evolving. We’ll repeat the process of exploring our feelings, being in the present and being curious – and we’ll get better at it, I promise.
As we learn to see things, even our own failure, with a new curiosity, gratitude for each moment and a more compassionate view of ourselves, we will become less disappointed.
We are wonderful, and that realisation is worth every single step on this sometimes difficult journey that we call life.