GRACE'S MUSINGS: Telling the inner critic to shut the hell up!

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimise the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” Brené Brown

In our quest for perfection, we can often use Brené Brown's poignant observation as a shield: if we appear perfect, we can avoid shame, judgement, and blame. Yet, this shield seems particularly heavy for women.

I'm always asking, why are we the ones disproportionately burdened with this quest for perfection? What are the psychological and societal forces reinforcing this?

I guess historically, survival wasn’t just about physical strength but also about social integration. Men were valued as providers, while women were expected to be caregivers, tasked with maintaining social harmony.

These expectations have lingered, and in reality, unfairly burdening us as women to balance career success, personal fulfilment, societal ideals of beauty, and expectations of domestic roles.

The media exacerbates this, portraying polished, idealised lives on social media, and creating a daunting standard against which many of us measure our own so-called 'inadequate' lives. This isn’t just a personal challenge; it’s a societal one that echoes deep-seated structures that diminish our worth and value.

The inner critic that many of us battle isn't merely a personal demon; it's a societal echo, penalising us for adhering to, and deviating from, traditional roles. It traps us in a psychological double bind where any choice could be seen as a failure.

This is not merely damaging; it’s debilitating, making self-criticism a constant, albeit cruel, companion. Let’s recognise that this voice of doubt and self-critique isn’t a sign of our personal failings but a reflection of broader social narratives.

For me, understanding that was the first step toward dismantling its power. It’s not about tell our inner critic to shut the hell up, but understanding its roots and functions. This awareness is transformative, shifting the narrative from individual inadequacy to collective empowerment.

Let's ask ourselves why we accept these impossible standards and begin to challenge the structures that enforce them. If we start to collectively question the legitimacy of the standards against which we measure ourselves, we can begin to dismantle the perfection paradigm.

This journey is not just about freeing ourselves from self-imposed standards but about challenging and changing the societal norms that bind all of us. Let's strive to understand and reform these voices, both internal and external, that drive us towards an unattainable perfection. 

We will press forward, not just for our own liberation, but to collectively redefine what it means to be a woman today -  we're women who are formidable, resilient, powerful and inspiring at every stage of our lives.

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