Issue 3 March 2006
Sanity Saver#5: Get Real About What You Can Actually
Expect of Yourself
Most of us are caught in a tug-of-war between who we think we
should be and who we are; between what we want to do and what
we’re actually able to do. In other words, we’re at
the mercy of our guilt demons. Our feelings of guilt often prevent
us from taking care of ourselves. These feelings often stem from
When you stop to think about it, you’ll realize that you
have impossible ideals that you strive to live up to— ideals
like, “I must always put other people’s needs first,”
or “I should never disappoint anyone.” These kinds
of standards are not only impossible to meet, but also they wreak
havoc on your life.
When you let yourself be driven by perfectionism, guilt and unattainably
high standards, you become irritable, grumpy and unable to function
Guilt is a major roadblock to taking care of ourselves. There’s
always a list of things that have to be done that takes precedence
over attending to our needs. Then there’s the fear of disappointing
someone if you occasionally make yourself a priority. But stop
and consider for a moment: when you put yourself last on the list
and allow your guilt to run your life, the person that you continually
disappoint is yourself.
The truth is, you have to come first, at least some of the time.
I know this probably makes you uncomfortable since it goes against
everything you’ve been taught as women. Yet, the reality
is that it’s only to the extent that you love and care for
yourself that you’re truly able to love and care for others.
Take heart, there is something you can do—in fact, you
must do. First you have to identify the ideals that are your underlying
motivation. Most of us have an idealized image of what good parents,
career women, good daughters, good wives or girlfriends should
be--we are haunted by these images of perfection. Rather than
confront the comparison between our idealized images and our actual
self, many of us feel inadequate and guilt-ridden because we can't
match up to our own impossibly high standards.
You have a choice: you can either adjust your standards so that
they more closely match reality or you can change your behavior.
In the majority of cases, I would suggest you get rid of those