I recently uncovered a problem. I’m sure I’m not alone with this one. How do you feel when someone says y’all need to talk, or when you have an evaluation at work? Do you run through all the possibilities of what you might have done wrong? For my creatives, how do you feel when you complete a new project? You may be proud, but are you not sure if it’s good enough until someone confirms it? If you identify with these feelings of anxiety, worry, or uncertainty, keep reading. We have the same problem.
As positive as I am outwardly, my inner-talk is brutal. Nothing I do is good enough. The perfectionist in me fears critique and pushes me to pursue excellence to avoid disapproval or dissent. The pursuit of excellence, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the fear of critique is where the problem lies.
Allow me to unpack this. If you are consistently performing at a high level personally and professionally, chances are you don’t need to be assuming the worst when situations arise. All talks don’t have to be bad, all evaluations don’t have to make you anxious, and new projects are good even if they were just healing for you. In all of these situations, we are minimizing our own value.
We are enough, and our best is sufficient in any situation. KNOW THAT. Make peace with it. Too often I skip over what I bring to the table to cater to an outside standard or expectation. I AM ENOUGH, period. I produce quality work and I enhance every space I enter. Once I begin to accept this, I can confidently walk into talks and evaluations curious to know how they will add to my greatness.
This is a mind shift. I don’t have to fear critiques because feedback is only going to make me better. It doesn’t erase who I already am. It's okay to have areas of growth. That’s inevitable. It’s not the end of the world to learn how you can change something moving forward. We have to stop assuming the worst and fearing feedback. Instead, we can use that energy to think more highly of ourselves.
To push it a step further, working on our inner-talk not only improves our own peace, it also impacts our interactions with others. If we easily dismiss or find fault with the work we do (which to others is already at a high level), what happens when we are faced with people who work differently from us, whether they be our spouses, business partners, or employees?
I’ll speak personally. I have an eye for imperfection. It’s easier for me to point out what’s not right than it is for me to acknowledge everything that has been done perfectly. My students challenged me on this one when they said I didn’t acknowledge their work and they didn’t think I cared about them. That hurt. I had to apologize and make a change.
No one wants to be picked apart. Everyone deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated. I used to celebrate the students who made it on time and start each week with shout outs. I got away from that, and had to correct it. Acknowledgement is important. It says, “I value you.” It’s psychological. Studies show happy people perform better.
Whether you need to do it for yourself, or your relationships, evaluate your self-talk. Look for ways to acknowledge and appreciate what’s being done. Find ways to let yourself know, "I value you." Words hurt, but they can also heal. How are you using your words?