“You are suggesting mediocracy!?” bellows my client with an anxiety disorder. We are taught to do our best in school; our coaches suggest for us to try our hardest; and society suggests striving for perfect looks. So when I introduce the concept of “good enough”, whether in parenting, career, or relationships, my clients usually balk at the notion.
Their reluctance to pull back is understandable, striving for perfectionism has been rewarded in the past. Worry and stress has resulted in success before, so why should they settle for second best. Anxiety is usually defined as a feeling of excessive worry, nervousness, or apprehension, usually associated with an upcoming event or something with an uncertain outcome. It makes an overachiever try their hardest to achieve the best result. There is nothing wrong with trying your best until, that is, your nervous system sends you signals to stop.
If you were an athlete training for a marathon you would push yourself beyond your comfort zone but also listen to your body for signs of overexertion. Your body will let you know when to modify your training in forms of achs or pain. Your mind does the same but with more subtlety. For instance, you will wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing about things to do. Or, you will ruminate about something you said or did. At times you will develop irrational fears. These symptoms and more are all your mind’s way of asking you to make changes.
Is there a trade of? Ofcourse! The benefits of perfectionism is that you throw the best parties, everything always gets done, people are never disappointed, etc. The benefit of adopting the “good enough” philosophy is that you can enjoy your life more, you will be present with loved ones, your body and mind will be at peace.
People with anxiety usually struggle with priorities or know when to stop. When they cross one task of the list they pile on two more – sound familiar? Here are tips to try now:
- Set a reasonable amount of time aside to work on a task. When the time expires stop working regardless if you feel you are done or not.
- Do a reality check by asking yourself “what’s the worst thing that can happen”.
- Own your inner critic. We usually are critical of others, by keeping that in check we become gentler with ourselves.
- Allow and expect surprise mistakes.
- Try new things that are not always efficient or effective like a new route to a familiar place.
Meditation, proper diet, and exercise will help symptoms of anxiety. Therapy is a very effective tool in helping with restructuring your thoughts, gaining awareness of your actions, and reducing feelings of worry and stress. For more information visit https://www.marinaedelman.com/anxiety/