What's more fun? Watching the "highlight reel" or the "blooper reel" of life?
Does it help you personally to relive the times you **nailed it**, or to dissect the times you screwed up? To celebrate your success, or to wallow in your failure? Which is more useful? More educational? More revealing of our truth?
I've been thinking about how we all share the "greatest hits" of our lives with those around us. It's especially obvious on social media, but it also happens at work, with our family, or at dinner with our friends.
To be fair, many people have trouble accepting praise, so acknowledging our own success can be a personally meaningful act. Receiving compliments might be difficult because of messages we got growing up ("Who do you think you are?" or "Don't get too full of yourself, no one likes a show off.") Or we might avoid broadcasting success because we know what failure feels like. But still. I'm not hating on tooting your own horn. There's nothing wrong with celebrating accomplishments. I will be the FIRST AND MOST EXCITED to congratulate my friends, just ask them.
But that doesn't mean we should sweep our failures under the rug. I know, it's tempting to avoid giving them a second thought. They're embarrassing, sometimes painful. Who wants to relive that? There's a reason Facebook creates those videos and collages of your "most liked" posts or whatever. We wanna see what we did right, not what we messed up.
Plus, if you think about it, there's some relief in not having to get it right all the time.
The only thing better than watching Karen Walker feign surprise with impeccable timing, is watching Megan Mullally giggle through five takes of trying to deliver the same line.
Side note: I was worried that making a Will & Grace reference would make me seem old (somehow??) but technically the reboot makes it current, so I think I'm OK. (Someone recently told me that Soundgarden was "before their time" so I'm paying attention to my pop culture references now. Jesus.)
Progress, not Perfection
I'm sure our highlights vs bloopers answer tells us something about what we value, and what we pay attention to. Can it be both?
There's nothing wrong with celebrating success, as long as we give credit to ourselves and others who helped us along the way.
There's nothing wrong with looking more closely at our failures, as long as we don't dwell on them.
No one feels comfortable around someone who is always feeling GREAT. Similarly, it can be hard to know how to support someone who can't get in touch with gratitude.
Balancing a healthy appreciation for our highs and our lows might be the way to go.
Treat everything as an opportunity to learn. Not as a blanket statement of your worth as a friend, employee, partner, or person.
If you struggle with this
One of my areas of focus is therapy with high-achievers, which is my nickname for perfectionists. These folks are go-getters, "Type A," focused. They've learned (maybe the hard way) that at the end of the day, they can only rely on themselves.
Sound like you?
Don't get me wrong. You're probably grateful for these qualities. They make you helpful, dependable, a good friend and a great employee.
Many perfectionists do NOT like looking at their mistakes. "What's the point? It's only going to slow me down. There's nothing I can do about it, so just keep moving." They tend to minimize the bad and focus on the good. They don't share these moments with other people, and they hide them from themselves.
I challenge you to stop and look at your mistakes. The times when you misspoke, made a wrong turn, or hurt yourself. The things we're not proud of hold power over us. Until we share them with the world and maybe even have a laugh.
Perfectionism can help motivate us. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and disconnection in our relationships. It can cause us to question ourselves as we strive for some unattainable and unrealistic goal. It contributes to impostor syndrome; you focus on your flaws and disregard your successes.
If you struggle with perfectionism and getting down on yourself for "everything you're doing wrong," call (562) 704-4736 for a free consultation about how therapy can help. Prospect Therapy welcomes individuals and couples of all genders and orientations in Long Beach, Seal Beach, and surrounding areas.