First of all, just to make sure everything is clear – this post is about general performance anxiety in life, NOT about sexual performance anxiety (perhaps a post for another time!)
Many of us fear inadequacy. We worry whether we are truly measuring up, whether we can be all that we were created to be. We wonder if we are doing enough, doing too much – we can drive ourselves crazy desperately searching for balance in our lives.
I find something very fascinating about human fears of inadequacy. We worry about what other people think about us and how we are performing… BUT then WE project what we believe they MUST be thinking about us. I find that quite presumptuous – that we would even begin to fool ourselves into assuming that we can accurately read the minds of those around us.
Our self-evaluations are often very different from the evaluations of those around us. Today I am going to focus on the most common difference – people believing they are not measuring up when, in fact, they are. Soon I will address the reality of people who have a false sense of how well they are doing (when they are not).
Are you a person who regularly engages in verbal self-flagellation? Do you ever say the following to yourself?
- I am not good enough.
- I am not smart enough.
- I can’t believe I made such a silly mistake, I am so stupid.
- I cannot measure up.
- All of the other employees are better than me.
- I think they all hate me – they must think I am clueless.
- I am just waiting for them to fire me.
- I am a horrible mother/ father/ son/ daughter/ employee/ etc.
- My kids are neglected by me and will hate me.
- I am a failure as a parent.
Obviously, this list can go on and on. Most people, if they were truly honest with themselves, would admit that they strongly relate to many of the above statements on a regular basis. I wonder how much healthier we might be as a collective society if we were able to turn the lack of confidence and fear of not being able to measure up into a confidence that was coupled with the understanding that it is okay to make mistakes and that mistakes allow us to grow and do not have to be bad things. If we focus too much on our perceived inadequacies, then we are likely to hamper our abilities and we may find we are frozen by our irrational fears. Why do I label them irrational? Most of the time our fears of inadequacy are not lined up with the reality of life. More often than not we do move past our insecurity and perform at the levels we are expected to.
What if we changed our inner dialog???
- I am good enough.
- I am smart enough.
- I made a mistake, but it is okay – I learned so much as a result.
- I will measure up.
- I am as good as all of the employees, that is why I was hired.
- People do not hate me, they understand I am in the middle of a learning curve.
- I look forward to working here for a really long time.
- I try my best and I am a successful mother/ father, son/daughter/ employee/ etc.
- My kids know they are loved and, while I always wish I had more time with them, they are well taken care of and deeply loved.
- I am not a perfect parent, but I am the perfect parent for my children and I will love and cherish them always.
By turning our anxious thoughts into positive statements, we are able to help ease some of our performance-related stress. We will not be perfect, but we can and will measure up.
Give yourself permission to believe in yourself – this will be the first step towards succeeding.