Ever since I can remember, my mother would instil in my sister and I the need for us to strive to be the very best that we can be. What she meant by this is that we should work as hard as we can in everything we do. I remember her telling us “practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”.
I am smiling now as I think back on these words. They may sound a little harsh but I know she was trying to teach us a valuable life lesson, and one which I still carry with me every day and still try to emulate in everything I do.
The trouble is that over the years this mindset has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Over the years I have undoubtedly put a significant of pressure on myself to succeed which has had some negative consequences. And although this has meant that I have been harsh or overly critical with myself when I have not met my expectations, it has given me a drive and a strength of purpose to achieve.
The difficulty of having a life mantra like this is that I’m never perfect at everything, and it can have the opposite effect of making me doubt or avoid trying the new and the unknown, in case I fail. Having a dogged determination to succeed is all well and good, but sometimes I need to accept that trying my best is enough, and if I fail… it’s okay, I can learn from this. If I never fail, surely I will never really be able to grow.
When I had my daughter India, I was only seventeen, I had no life experience to speak of, but I naturally followed in my mothers footsteps implementing these same life values that I was given. I think many of us do tend to emulate our own upbringing with our children don’t we, but is this something we should be doing? Do we even have any choice in the matter at all or do we simply follow unconsciously in their footsteps?
One of my hardest challenges was trying to fill the role of step-mother to three young sons. Trying to figure out how best to blend my values with those of my partner was not always an easy thing to do.
My strict, unwavering parenting methods didn’t always fit well with the more relaxed approach that my partner would often prefer to take. I also struggled with his view that achieving 80% of a goal is often good enough. I wanted to instil in the boys a desire to give 100% in everything they do and I became frustrated when they didn’t! A throwback from my childhood that I can’t seem to shake.
Merging different parental styles is so much harder than I could have ever imagined and it put my self-esteem to the test on many occasions. A classic example of where I tried my best to succeed but often felt like I was failing. But why am I being so hard on myself, how can I be failing if I am always learning?
After my mother passed two years ago I suffered with debilitating anxiety and depression which impacted on every area of my life, both professionally and personally. This was the catalyst that spurred me to make some significant changes in my professional life. Although I have now started to see the sunshine again, the pressure to succeed still consumes me and this both excites and frightens me.
I now find myself standing at another crossroads. This time it is not the fear of failure standing in my way, it is a mix of anxiety coupled with the uncertainty of how best to realise my own transformation. I have complete faith in myself that I can achieve my goals, I just need to work out a way to get there, I need a plan to keep me on track both emotionally and physically.
I promise from now on…
- I will stop being so self-critical.
- I will be more kind and compassionate to myself and others.
- I will accept that life can be messy and nothing is ever perfect.
Perhaps we could all try writing down three things we’d like to promise ourselves to see if it makes a difference our lives. What would yours be?
Love Katie xxx
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