Forget Perfect: Get Off Your Own Back and Own Your “Enoughness”

By being as kind to ourselves as we are to others we liberate ourselves of the perpetual need to impress or prove or please.

By Margie Warrell - Bestselling Author | Founding CEO, Global Courage | Forbes Columnist

Many women can be exceptionally self-critical; often far harder on themselves than on anyone else. It’s why, despite our best intentions to be our ‘best selves’ we often feel we’ve fallen far short of them. If you relate in any way, you’re not alone.

In fact, you’re in the company of a legion of amazing women who often feel they don’t measure up on some parameter; that they are not enough in some way.

Not successful enough… organized enough…confident enough… slim enough… talented enough…experienced enough…thoughtful enough… capable enough.

Let’s face it, we live in a society that bombards us 24/7 with messages, urging us to live up to some idealised image of success, brilliance, beauty and got-it-all-togetherness. And while most women intellectually understand that no one can be at their best all the time, we are masters at using our fallen moments as a baton to beat up on ourselves. (If you’re a working mother, double it!)

It’s why the best self-help must always begin with self-compassion; accepting that no matter how hard we may try to be forever generous-spirited or brave-hearted or ‘insert-virtue-here’, we will inevitably fall short.

And that’s okay.

Research has found that it’s not self-esteem or optimism that helps people handle life’s challenges best, it’s self-compassion. It may sound counter intuitive, but when we are kind to ourselves, embracing our fallibility and accepting our flaws, we don’t lower the bar and retreat to our couch to binge on ice cream. In fact, just the opposite! We expand our capacity for action, connection and contribution and recover faster from life’s myriad of hardships and disappointments.

So if you often feel like you are not measuring up and have grown a little (or lot) jaded by the endless advice on how to be your ‘best self’, my best advice (yes, no irony lost there) is to cut yourself some slack, get off your own back and give yourself permission to be fabulous and fallible, innately worthy and wholly imperfect…. All at the same time.

My last six months have been fertile ground for practicing self-compassion and embracing my own fallibility. During that time, I’ve packed up my life in Australia – teenage children in tow – and replanted in Singapore. Let me assure you, I’ve had more than my usual share of fallen and decidedly ‘uncomposed’ moments where I’ve felt anything but my ‘best self.’

Yet, as challenging as some days have been (and there’s been many… just ask my husband whose career has brought us here), I’ve come to appreciate that our greatest growth and deepest fulfilment doesn’t flow from the parts of us that are flawless or the times when life is easy. Instead, it flows from the parts of us that we’ve been wrestling with our entire life and that dial up a notch or ten when plans go awry or life presses in on us (like moving country with teenagers). It is embracing our raw moments that makes us real, relatable and allows us to forge the most authentic connections with others.

Life has taught me that we are not so much human beings as ‘human becomings.’ It’s in the space of giving up on perfection that we open a window to a deeper dimension of living in which we can experience more moments of genuine joy, connection, gratitude and fulfilment.

Just imagine what possibilities could open up for you if, every day (or just as often as you can manage it), you stepped out into the world with the deep knowing that you don’t have to be more or less of anything in order to be ‘enough’ — to be ready enough, good enough, successful enough, smart enough, worthy enough.

Imagine, if instead of continually striving to be the woman you think you should be, you embraced the innate adequacy of the woman you already are?

As the most pressing problems in our world seem to grow larger, it’s vital that we stop talking ourselves down and waiting until we feel we are ready enough, deserving enough, brave enough before we dare to try. By being as kind to ourselves as we are to others we liberate ourselves of the perpetual need to impress or prove or please.

So back yourself more, doubt yourself less and get off your own back. Not only because the best self-help is self-compassion, but because when you embrace your humanity and choose to show up as the ‘flawsome’ human becoming that you are, you give others permission to do the same. What greater gift there is?




Margie is a bestselling author, international speaker and women's leadership advocate. She is also an imperfect mother of four who drops balls on a regular basis. More at margiewarrell.com a speaker, author, women's leadership coach. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.