We live in a culture that emphasizes our deficits. When we break up with someone, we often look for what we did wrong and how we can correct it for our next relationship. We set goals with either unobtainable ends or based on subjective expectations that focus on our deficits, which may explain why less than 10% of people obtain them. After reading that statistic, some people may be tempted to read books that help them better stick to their goals, but I think that we are going about this the wrong way.
It’s interesting to me that a portion of self-improvement is devoted to changing the things we think we’re doing wrong or the things that we don’t like about ourselves. Sometimes we are hoping to change ourselves so that we can fit in with a group of people we think are popular or to impress someone. The problem is, we can pretend to be someone else, but it is exhausting and difficult to maintain.
So what do the things we think are wrong about us, impressing other people, and fitting in have in common? I think we are using the wrong measuring stick to value our results. For every group of people who think there is something wrong with us, there is another group of people who accept us for who we are. Why do we value the opinion of the first group instead of the second? There are definitely times when we don’t necessarily want to value the opinion of the second group (or the first group, for that matter). For example, if the people have different values/morals than we do.
In most situations, however, when we feel that we don’t measure up, I think it’s important to first look at how we are measuring ourselves. Are we using the critical voice of parents or teachers that we heard when we were growing up? Are we hearing the words of bullies, people who were mean to us, or someone who was too insecure and pushed us away? Trying to live up to unrealistic expectations and standards is not the way to “improve” ourselves. Often, it leads to us feeling worse about who we are and our performance.