Should I choose to be offended? Nah!

18 Mar


Two very good friends of mine have given me insights into myself recently. These two comments (which I have no doubt were meant with the utmost love and affection) have left me reeling.

The first comment was that I was a ‘perfectionist’. My friend didn’t mean this to imply that I do everything perfectly…far from it. He meant that I try to do everything perfectly and if one little thing goes wrong I am left dissatisfied. This I believe to be the true definition of a perfectionist. I always thought I’d be happy to be called this because I always took it to mean someone who did things perfectly. We were discussing work at the time and I’ve since realised I am like this in all areas of my life.

I can’t be more grateful to my friend for saying this to me. This has been the root cause of unhappiness on my part my entire life and the saddest part is that I never realised what I was doing to myself.

Every day I try to be a perfect mother. As soon as I give them a less than healthy snack or lose patience I write off the day as terrible and start calling myself a bad mother, all over one or two less than perfect moments. By doing this I choose to take away from all the good things I did that day and I go to bed dwelling on the negative.

I am the same with my diet, my finances, my looks…I start off okay but as soon as one less than perfect thing happens I write off the diet, my budget and how I look.

I need to chill the hell out. Now I understand what someone else who is close to meant when they said I dwell on the negative. This I was offended by but she was right. I never recognised it before.

At thirty-six years of age I have experienced a profound revelation thanks to a dear friend and I really and truly feel that this is a turning point for me.

My kids may not eat perfectly but they are healthy and happy. My teeth may not be as white as I want them to be but at least I have teeth. I might overspend on groceries and books sometimes but it’s not like I’m blowing the mortgage payment on the pokies. Giving myself credit and allowing imperfection is going to be the key to happiness for me from here on in.

Just two weeks later another close friend lovingly called me a people-pleaser. I can honestly say that just with my perfectionist trait I never stopped to think that I was a people-pleaser and once again I have realised that the true definition of a people-pleaser isn’t that I please everyone, it’s that if I don’t please people I feel guilty and sad.

Another epiphany, so late in life, reminding me that it’s never two late to solve the riddle of one’s life.

I have to admit that it does take some practice to stop letting perfectionism ruin my day and to stop feeling guilty for everything I don’t do for people. When it comes to being a people-pleaser (which I was only informed of yesterday) it’s going to take quite a bit of practice to break this bad habit.

I’m much better than I used to be in this regard. Having children makes it much easier to not only let people down but to feel okay about it because my priority is my children. I have been setting limits lately but I’ve been feeling quite badly about it and apologising profusely.

I won’t be able to change overnight so I’ve set myself two challenges. The first is that when I have a less than perfect day I am going to repeat the mantra “Nothing is ruined, everything is just fine”. I also plan to stop apologising when I can’t do something. If I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop thanking everyone for everything. I just feel so grateful for everything, especially when it comes to work opportunities. My husband tells me that I don’t value myself enough in this regard, that I am getting work but they too are getting my services and work.

Both these labels also explain why I am so unhappy when I think someone doesn’t like me. This happened to me recently in a group I am in and instead of focusing on the twenty people who were happy with me and my help I focused on the one person who seemed to have a beef with me. It took all the joy out of the situation, all the pride and satisfaction. Ridiculous.

I am certainly a work-in-progress and boy do I have some work to do. But with the help of friends like these, I might just make it.

And to my two friends who helped me make these realisations…don’t apologise, don’t explain…just say, “Happy to have helped”, because I am happy too.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

3 Responses to “Should I choose to be offended? Nah!”

  1. Karen March 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Jo, this is Karen Stock (colleague of Colleen Ryan). How are you? You will never guess, this is so funny but another girl in our office just emailed me your article in Mama Mia about the Food Police! I was reading it, nodding, loving every word and then I looked at the photo. “Hang on a minute – I know this girl!” I shouted. Love your work Jo! What a laugh and what a small world indeed! KX


  2. joabiadmin March 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Ha! That’s so cool! Thanks, it was just a bit of fun. It’s all those silly elimination diets. I tried so many and Lite and Easy seriously reminded me that I don’t have to eliminate anything, I just have to control the portions!

    Nice to meet you Karen and give Colleen a hug and a kiss for me. x


  3. joabiadmin March 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Tell her I used a photo from my original photo shoot on my uni ID. It’s such a great pic!


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