Do you overcompensate because you don’t feel good enough?
Do you do too much, work too hard, clean too thoroughly or spend too long worrying about your appearance because you don’t feel worthy or acceptable as you are?
I definitely do.
Of course, this has changed a lot over the years. I have transformed. My self-esteem has increased hugely from when I was younger, and from when I began writing this blog, more than seven years ago. I’ve also become a lot more aware of the fact that I am overcompensating and of the reasons why. I was in denial before.
But no matter how much I’ve changed, I still have to supervise myself. My low self-esteem and my feelings of not being worthy or good enough go way back. They are deeply lodged in the primal part of my brain. They lie in wait, ready to get triggered, ready to sabotage my life.
Why am I writing this now?
It’s because I’ve done some overcompensating today.
I went to buy lunch for a coaching client who’s coming on one of my beach brainstorming days tomorrow. And I over-shopped. I over-bought. I over-spent. I overcompensated.
The little child inside me who doesn’t feel good enough and who is terrified of being judged, criticised, or told off led me around the supermarket at top speed, putting all manner of stuff in my trolley. It now won’t fit in the fridge!
Fortunately, on this occasion, I’m hosting the beach brainstorming day at the venue where I host my retreats – The Artists’ Studio BnB – rather than at my home. If the client were coming to my home, I’d be cleaning like crazy right now, trying to remove every last speck of dirt.
I also work too hard and always have. This benefited a number of international news agencies and a few newspapers in my first career. It now benefits my retreat guests, workshop attendees and coaching clients.
I guess my tendency to overcompensate for my low self-esteem through working ridiculously hard and being a perfectionist took me far in my first career and no doubt will take me far in my second career as a coach, writer and speaker.
But at what cost? That has to be the question. At what cost?
See that woman in the picture? That’s how I looked much of the time in my news journalism job, until I burnt out and broke down. I’m still prone to pushing myself, but I’m determined to change.
I will always have incredibly high standards. I will always want to do my absolute best. I will always want my clients to love working with me or for my retreat attendees to have the most incredible experience.
But I want to do a really good job with balance and with self-love. I want to walk the walk, to be a role model to the women and men I am guiding along their own self-love journeys.
In order to do that, I need to let go of my compulsion to overcompensate. And in order to do that, I need to continue to build my self-esteem and strengthen my emotional core – or my inner oak tree, as I call it in my book.
I need to continue to heal my early wounds and to re-parent myself. I need to love myself and take care of myself. I need to believe I am enough and trust I am enough. And I need to trust my work is good enough, my house is clean enough, the lunch is tasty enough and that I look good enough.
How about you? Do you feel enough? Do you overcompensate for low self-worth? In what ways? I’d love to hear from you.
On a separate but related note, I wanted to share a few blogs I’ve written recently for Psychologies magazine’s Life Labs expert blogging platform.
How to let go of your unhealthy crutches talks about how many of us use food, alcohol, achievement, success, sex, drugs and other crutches to numb our feelings and to run away from ourselves. I share my own story of using crutches and how I gradually let some of them go. And I confess to what I’ve shared above: that I still work too hard and do too much.
If you’re up for some more reading, you might also like this post on How to stay true to yourself in relationships or this one on Understanding the push-pull in relationships. Quite a few readers related to the push-pull post especially, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Wishing you a wonderful day x
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