My husband thinks that I am too hard on myself. Or rather, he likes to say “you are good at everything except recognizing how good you are.” I think this is maybe an exaggeration. When I press him on it (“everything??”), he admits that I’m probably not any good at basketball, considering I am about five-foot-one and not super coordinated. But he points out that this is what he’s talking about: I’ll focus on something that I can’t do to the exclusion of things I can, up to and including focusing on the things I have no interest in trying to do.
(“You don’t know my secret dreams of winning all the basketballs. Putting all the balls in all the baskets.”
“…that’s…not how it works…”
“Oh yeah, how does it work?”
We are not Sports People.)
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this is not the way I see it. (I suppose if I did, it would be easy to say “well, maybe I should just stop being so hard on myself then!” and do it.) I feel like I have very realistic expectations of myself. I am not particularly critical of my own skills at drawing or painting, for example. I don’t think that I am particularly good, but I don’t think that I need to be, either. Or the aforementioned basketball: I am not super-critical of myself there because I don’t think I need to be an excellent basketball player, nor have I put any effort into becoming one.
It’s things that I do think are important that I don’t think I am very good at because I know I could be better, or that I’ve tried to be better. Many people have told me – and I have read all the advice anyone else has, too – that berating myself over my faults or failings isn’t going to help me be better at the things I want to be better at. That accepting oneself is the way to progress. To me that’s always felt like giving up and allowing myself off the hook.
But to be honest, my way hasn’t worked so well either.