Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Are Women Today Too Hard on Themselves?

Do you put too much pressure on yourself?

I am a very routine person. Each day, when I wake up, immediately after brushing my teeth and putting in my contacts, I diligently put on my sports bra, shorts and Nikes. I mix BCAAs into a tall glass and stretch. My goal is to begin my workout by 6:20.

If it's 6:22 and I haven't begun yet, I'm already mad at myself.

After I work out, I often think, "Today didn't really count because I didn't push myself as hard as I could have." (Despite the fact that, if you'd asked me during the workout, I would have rated my intensity at 90-100%.) "Some of the exercises were easier than they used to be. An optimal workout would have included tougher ones." (Despite the fact that improvement is the goal.) "I better not eat too much today; that wasn't the longest, hardest workout I've ever had." (Despite the fact that constant calorie restriction and longer workouts are actually bad for you.)

I often criticize myself for not reupholstering my own furniture for less and sticking to paleo and making homemade coconut butter. Why doesn't everything I do look like the things I see on Pinterest? Why isn't my hair a foot longer and my nose a little thinner? Why didn't I save more money when I was 23? Where, oh where, are my abs?

I got ten things done today. Why couldn't I squeeze in #11?

No matter how much I do, it's never enough. In my own mind, I run a constant deficit because I could have not had any carbs at all. I could have skipped every indulgence. I could have worked even faster and gotten more done. 

My mind truly believes that one day, if I'm good enough, I'll be able to do it all.

As sad as this sounds even to me when I read it aloud, I know I'm not alone. I've met many other women like me (probably mostly Type A) who compare themselves to a nonexistent ideal person that one day they're sure they can become if they just overcome their own inequities.

We justify this by taking examples of the qualities we'd like to exhibit from the women who have them and pretend that just because someone else has one attribute we don't, perfection is possible and we're "wrong" for not being there yet. Some of us (including me) look at other women and say, "See? Look at her! She's got [great legs/a hefty bank account/a straight-A student/perfect-looking outfits] and a whole life to juggle too, so I should be able to accomplish at LEAST that much. And I'd have it too, if I weren't so lazy!"

What's wrong with us? Why can't we just accept ourselves as we are? Is beating up on yourself for beating up on yourself just another way of justifying neurotic, compulsive, destructive behavior?

In today's world where everyone gives beautiful advice and presents only the most fabulous version of the life they supposedly inhabit to us online, why can't we separate this from reality? Or is it all just another excuse to be mean to ourselves?

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