As a therapist, I notice a lot of recurring themes in my office. And, one seems to be popping up more and more lately: The idea that we're supposed be perfect/do things perfectly or else we're failures. Failing, it seems, isn't an option these days, and the fear of failure seems to be causing a great deal of distress.
What's so interesting is that we seem to have a double standard when it comes to "trying" and possibly failing. One for children and one for adults.
For example, my son is learning how to tie his shoes, and believe me, he's failing - a lot! Do I berate him and call him a "failure" as he's learning? No. Instead, I encourage him to keep trying. I encourage him to learn from his mistakes. And, I acknowledge that learning things can take a while.
Why, then, are we so hard on ourselves as adults? Why can't we bring that same level of patience to our own lives? Why do we assume that grown-ups should have learned all they need and don't need to "try" anymore?
In that vein, I encourage my clients to "treat" themselves like a child sometimes. Understand you're still learning - about relationships, work, and play. And, frankly, the learning never ends.
So, next time you're tempted to beat yourself up about "failing," remember how kind you are to children who are learning to do things. And, then bring that kindness to yourself.