Category Archives: Expectations


I’m not a fish!

How many times do you find yourself reacting to the people around you or the circumstances you are in as if you are on autopilot and have no choice how to behave?  And how many times do you notice this has happened after the event, rather than during or even before?

Very often? Yes, me too.

Our habitual emotional responses are triggered many times each day, and personally I’m not happy about it! Reacting automatically often means that I act in a basic, selfish, uncivilised kind of way, as if my intelligent, rational self has been bypassed.  I respond like a child or chimp would.  I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, but I find it really hard to stop myself.

Here is a tip that I was given by an amazing woman who definitely lives life to the full. When you feel yourself being pushed along by your emotional reactions, or pulled into a fight by someone else, say the following mantra to yourself and take control of your response.

“I’m not a fish!”  “I am not a fish!”

Let me know how you get on.


What They Didn’t Tell Us About Parenting.

Does it sometimes feel like you are the only person who struggles with the whole parenthood thing?  Why don’t our miraculous ‘bundles of joy’ bring us the happiness we thought they would?  Why don’t other parents talk about how hard it is?

Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman felt the same way.  Below is their funny and honest TED Talk which ‘exposes 4 facts that parents never, ever admit — and why they should.’

I watched this about 18 months ago and after the laughter, let out a huge sigh of relief that someone else was talking about these things that I wanted parents to talk about.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think by commenting below.

Many Thanks,


If you want to be happy, stop trying to be perfect

Ten reasons why being a perfectionist is harmful to your happiness.

  1. Perfection doesn’t exist, so you are chasing an impossible ideal.
  2. You are always disappointed with yourself because you can’t reach your impossible, idealistic goals.
  3. You fail to appreciate the good in your life already, because you are constantly striving for perfection or the next better thing.
  4. You suffer from black and white thinking. “Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, then I might as well give up.”
  5. You are constantly unhappy with yourself because you judge yourself  so harshly. You wouldn’t judge your enemies as harshly as you judge yourself. 
  6. Contrary to many perfectionist’s belief, being harsh with yourself does not make you work harder and achieve more. Instead it stifles your creativity, your productivity and your everyday happiness.
  7. Striving to be perfect is essentially the need to please other people, or make them think you are ‘good enough’.
  8. Time becomes a huge pressure.  If everything is to be perfect,  not only does each hour have to be used wisely and productively, it also has to run perfectly smoothly itself.
  9. You can never let go and ‘just be’, because there is always something to be done to make you or your life more perfect.
  10. If you are striving to be perfect, it means you don’t think you are good enough as you are. In other words, you are  rejecting yourself, which can only lead to pain instead of the perfect happiness you so crave.

It doesn’t always have to feel good.

I’m not feeling very happy.  My day has not been a bad one, but it hasn’t been great either.  I worked hard on what I said I’d do but put far too much energy into making the ‘right’ decisions, and as a result I’m feeling restless and unsatisfied with my day.  I think the problem is that I can’t sit back, take a deep breathe and feel proud of today’s achievements.

A few months ago, I could easily have dived deep into a pool of self-indulgent despair, shouting at my children and being grumpy with my husband when he got home. But I’m proud to say that I haven’t done that today, because I’m trying to remember what I’ve learnt about perfectionists, namely that we expect every moment to be perfect and think that whenever we don’t feel wonderfully happy, then something is wrong with us, or the world. 

So while I’m not feeling great, I’m pleased that I’m not feeling awful, I’m trying to take on board the fact that I’ve had a good day, but that some things didn’t go well and that’s ok.  Bad days happen and that doesn’t mean that my life is way off track.


Happiness = Acceptance


Carrying on from my Tibetan Monk  post, I want to say a bit more about acceptance because it is such an important element of overcoming perfectionism.

As I’ve said previously, the thing about perfectionism is that it makes you want to be something or someone else.  It makes you feel like you are not ‘good enough’ as you are.  You are constantly striving to become a ‘better person’ because only then will you be worthy of love and respect. 

But the only way to find real happiness is to start with who you are now, and accept yourself with all your imperfections.  Obviously that is easier said than done – and it’s even difficult to say, especially out loud.  I definitely struggle sometimes with accepting the concept myself. ‘But I don’t want to be like this so why should I accept it?’ (Because it causes you so much pain and unhappiness, Thea, that’s why!) I often use the subtitle of Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection as a reminder, because she phrases it in a way that makes sense to me, even when I’m in perfectionist mode. 

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

It reminds me when I put pressure on myself to do and achieve too much, and when I beat myself up for not achieving it, that I am trying to be the perfect person I think I’m supposed to be, rather than the wonderful, but imperfect, person that I already am. (I even find that difficult to write that last bit down in black and white, which shows that I’ve still got a way to go before I believe it completely.)

Think about what is really happening when you don’t accept yourself and don’t believe you are enough. You are rejecting yourself. And if you reject yourself (by rejecting your successes, your failures and your negative emotions) then essentially you are rejecting reality.  And you know what we call people who reject reality….


Making the Perfect Choice

On Thursday, my daughter was upset. Nothing new in that, but it seemed to go on for longer than normal, and she was very reluctant to talk. The sun was shining, we were all enjoying the gorgeous spring weather….except she wanted to stay inside watching TV – which was very unlike her.

Finally, she accepted my offer to have a cuddle and chat, and it emerged that she hadn’t had a very nice time at school during Golden Time – the part of the day when they can choose what to do or play with. Her problem was, she couldn’t decide what she wanted to do. She walked around the playground on her own trying to decide what to play with. By the time she had chosen it was time to finish. ‘So I only got to tidy up’ she said, her face crumpling.

Whey-hey I thought, we’re on my territory. I know this. I’ve been there. So I told her that I too worry about making the right choice. And she admitted that, like me, she was sometimes scared about making the wrong choice, and ‘wasting’ her time. We talked about there being lots of right choices, and usually not many wrong ones or less good ones.

And then I got to the punchline. “And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Life isn’t perfect, and we don’t really want it to be. So don’t worry about making the perfect choice, you’ll make a good choice and that’s OK.”

A few months ago, this encounter would have involved me asking about what things she could have chosen, and why she couldn’t choose, what to do next time, and it probably wouldn’t have got got us very far. Instead, she seems lighter after our sharing chat. I feel proud that I recognised the opportunity to start teaching her – at six – what I am only just learning myself.


Nature or Nurture?

Is chatting a woman thing?

As a perfectionist I sometimes struggle with the fact that other people are not perfect too.

My husband, for example.

He ticks a lot of boxes, but one of the things that I try to accept that he doesn’t do, without it being a sign he doesn’t love me is to show interest by asking me questions. You know, like in having a chat. He can do the How are you?, How’s your day gone? fine, and he listens and nods admirably. But then it pretty much stops. There’s no more.  No more investigation or interest, whether I’m happy, sad, excited, or angry.  When I mention this he says he is interested, but why doesn’t he want to find out more? (Surely I’m not that boring?!) It doesn’t seem to enter  his head that he should gather information not only in order to be polite but also to share it, own it, dissect it, and then maybe – or maybe not – solve it.  Which is strange you would think, since (like the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus says) his first instinct is to solve any issue, and surely information forms the basis of any good kind of problem solving. But maybe information gathering is a woman thing.   The fact is that my husband acts like he missed out on the “showing interest in other people” part of the social skills curriculum at the school of life.  Is this a subject that only women learn?  I know we are the best at it, but I kind of thought men did it too though perhaps in a less skilled way.* It seems that my husband does not. My daughter, however, could already pass with an A+, as we discovered last week.

We were having a ‘celebration’ with the kids. This is a family tradition on a Friday where we have a drink and some snacks together and talk about our week. Last week we all talked about what we were proud of. When it was my turn I said that I was really excited because I had set up a survey on the web and I that 32 women had completed the survey so far – in only 2 days. My six-year-old daughter immediately started asking loads of questions in a really animated way, using her hands and body and tone of voice to communicate her excitement, support and interest in my survey. “So what kind of questions did you ask?” “What did they say to that question?” “How many people want to join your club etc.”  “When are you going to run the first one?” She chatted like an expert and we had a lovely little conversation about it.  It was my husband who pointed out later that it must be a girl thing, this asking questions business, and perhaps he should take lessons from her.  Maybe it’s true.  She doesn’t get to see me chatting to my girlfriends any more than my sons do, yet here she is asking all the questions in the way a best friend does.

*I know I’m generalising here, and accept that some men are wizards at discussing people and feelings, and some women are awful at it, but generally…you know what I mean.


Because You’re Worth It.

Do you ever think you’ll feel better when…you’ve lost weight? written that book? earnt more money? got your dream job?

Ever wondered why you feel like this?

It’s because you don’t feel worthy enough already. Yes, Worthy Enough.  Do you think you are worthy enough already?

When I considered this question recently, my first thought was: ‘Of course I think I’m worthy enough already.’ My confidence and self-esteem goes up and down but generally I’ve always had a decent enough regard for myself.  It didn’t seem that feeling worthy enough was a problem for me.  Not having enough time to get all the things I wanted to get done seemed to be my problem.

I’d been reading ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘ by Brene Brown and as I read on, I realised that perhaps I didn’t think I was as worthy as I thought I did. I began to ask myself the following questions:

  • If I believe I am worthy enough already why do I feel that my day is only successful if I ‘achieve’ things each day?
  • If I believe I am worthy enough already why do I feel I need to prove to people that I can be a successful businesswoman / coach / writer, not to mention a perfect mum?
  • If I believe I am worthy enough already why do I feel I have ‘failed’ at so many things?
  • If I believe I am worthy enough already why am I constantly striving to change myself?
  • If I believe I am worthy enough already why am I worried about what other people think of me?

Brown claims that the difference between people who live a wholehearted life (i.e. people who are truly happy) and those who don’t is their belief that they are enough, already.  In other words they don’t have to prove anything. Instead they are brave and open and vulnerable and connected and they believe they are worthy. She says:

“Here’s what’s truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

Now I might be putting myself out on a limb here but that hit me hard. I realised for probably the first time in my life that perhaps this constant striving to improve myself and my life weren’t admirable qualities with a hint of perfectionism, but actually signs that I don’t think I am worth enough as I am. Do I think I have to change myself to be worthy?   Perhaps the reason that I never have enough time to do all the things I want to get done is because I want to prove too much?

What do you think? Can you relate to this idea?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment below. I want to know if it’s just me…

p.s. I know the photo at the top is too dark, but I’m fighting my perfectionist urges to redo it because I have lots of other stuff to do.  I am trying to be brave and allow myself (and my post) to be imperfect.