No Need to be Good at Everything
As children, our parents generally decide what’s important for us and how good we need to be at activities. If cleanliness and neatness was highly valued by your parents, you probably were expected to keep your room ship shape. If getting all A’s was paramount, you likely felt pressure to ace your tests and be a model student. Ditto for areas like athletics, beauty, manliness or being community minded. Back then, we may not have had much chance to decide which endeavors we wanted to excel at and which we didn’t care all that much about.
Fast forward to adulthood when many dysregulated eaters are still stressing out at needing to be an all-star person. You may not even like certain activities—you may downright hate them—but still feel driven to do them well. Stop and think if this describes you: competitive like all get out and needing to be tops at whatever you do.
If you’re tired of pushing yourself to be perfect or outstanding, relax. Here’s a much healthier way to approach life. Let’s assume every activity falls into one of four quality levels—excellent, good enough, fair or poor—and that you get to choose the achievement level you want. For example, I want to be an excellent therapist, good enough at paperwork, and am okay being fair at using social media. I’m fine being a fair cook, adequate housekeeper, and a poor gardener. I want to know about what’s going on in the world, but don’t need to be a political news junky. I’m happy being a good enough writer and strive to be an excellent friend.
I like to think of these performance levels as baskets and that we’re constantly choosing what goes into each basket. Because we’re not meant to excel at everything we do (no matter what your parents told you), we can decide where we want to put our effort and energy. That way we’re not exhausted and stressed to the max. That way we can truly follow our dreams and shine where it’s important to us. That way we can just get by with passable when something really doesn’t matter to us very much.
Think of everything you do in terms of which kind of success basket an activity belongs in. Strive for good enough to lessen pressure, and throw in a (very) few areas where you wish to excel. Don’t bow to other’s pressure; just listen to your heart. Recognize that our interest in how well we do at activities changes due to circumstance and over time. Making your own choices about adequacy will help you grow mentally healthier. It will also reduce the need to be all things to all people. And reduce stress eating.