For my entire life I have been a chronic overachiever. From school, to college, to going to work, I was all about trying to be an example of the best.
Even after getting married, I was determined to be the best homemaker although I already had a job. This drive to do things to perfection didn’t intentionally come from my parents. In fact, my parents often told me that it would be okay if I got a ‘C’ on my report card once in a while. My husband wasn’t pushing me to do an amazing job of taking care of the house. In fact he often reminded me that he married me because I’m a writer and an artist, not a housekeeper.
All of this pressure was coming from inside of me. I was burdened by all the things I thought I should do to be the best version of myself.
Of course all of this led to me having a major breakdown three years ago, one year into the pandemic. In hindsight, it’s like how did I not see that coming?
But during the time I was bedridden for months, I realized all of these burdensome “shoulds” made me absolutely miserable. All the things I believed I should do to be the best version of me. On top of that, being chronically tired and in pain with the dish pile and dust bunnies growing in our home, made me feel as if I had reached the absolute worst version of who I could be. And maybe I was that all along. I just couldn’t see it before.
Over time, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be the best version of myself. I want to be the most loving version of myself. I want to be the version of me who is focused on doing what I need to be nourished and supported without comparing how I accomplish that to any one else’s methods.
I exercise in whatever way gives me joy.
I eat in whatever way shows my body I care about it’s wellbeing and vitality.
I do chores from a place of creating a supportive environment for myself, not burdensome perfection and devotion to the unnecessary.
I do self-development with the motive of cherishing what I could be capable of, not hating who I currently am.
I’m not saying I have this all figured out. I have days where I think, “I could have been better!” But it hits differently when my main focus is nourishing and expressing appreciation for what I have instead of forcing myself to “Get Results!” As if where I am currently in my life means nothing.
If you’re taking care of your needs compassionately, you’ll always get the right results.
Are you feeling stuck in the allure of living up to your best self?
Then try becoming your MOST loving self instead.
How would my life look if I ate in a way that shows I love and cherish my body?
How would I workout if my main goal was to show my body how much I care?
How would I take care of my house if my goal was to simply create a nourishing environment?
How can I take care of my surroundings and simultaneously take care of myself?
Are my efforts to improve my life coming from a place of genuine, self-directed love and care or the pressure of comparison?
If your drive for improvement is coming from a feeling of falling behind, what are the bright spots of where you are now? What’s the good side of being where you are?
What do you already have in your life that is helping you flourish?
What is one small thing you can do to flourish a little more?
The point is instead of striving for the best version of yourself that is dependent on the end results (perfect home, look, body, profession, intellect etc…), try to be your most loving self instead. The self who takes good care of you. The self that gives you what you need to flourish in the areas of your life that you care about.
And I have to say that expressing all of this makes me really happy. Personal growth and self-improvement is part of who I am. I love it! But it’s the attitude and intent that matters most. It’s the difference between being proud of what you accomplish or feeling empty at the end of the day.
It was actually this change of outlook that motivated me to write two books. My book Thoughtful Planning:How to Use Questions for Self-reflection to Design Your Day, is all about planning days and setting goals with self-care in mind.
The Little Book of Tiny Tasks: Make Your Life More Calm While Getting Things Done 5 Minutes at a Time is another book that highlights how small thoughtful actions can make a difference, and showing that you care for yourself in the smallest ways can make a lasting impact.
I just want you to know that a nourished and loved you, is the best you.