Thank you for your message and for allowing me to understand more about how you feel and what you have been going through, especially regarding how you have been interacting with yourself.
Through your words I think we have touched on a very important topic about "should", which could imply a sense of perfection/control and how much we demand ourselves to do what is being expected and have everything figured out or under our control, hence the fear over unknown and the urge to be in control.
Through your words, I have a sense that we often match ourselves with some internal expectations that we demand ourselves to be this way or that way...and that can definitely create stress for us and make us wonder if everything/anything that we do are "normal". There seems to be a genuine sense of worrying over the unknown future, meaning that we have a hard time trusting in our ability to cope with anything that happens?
You have mentioned that you had a hard time accepting mistakes/making room for failures because perhaps we have never be assured by others that who we are and what are do are acceptable. This could also affect your relationship where your self-esteem was constantly sabotaged, which goes with the feeling of not being good enough. I can understand how much these images and perceptions have impacted you and made you think that you ought to be a certain way or achieve a certain thing.
Meanwhile, we are all different and we feel differently. One key to managing this anxiety and stress is to accept ourselves as we are and not judge ourselves over any actions or thoughts that we have. There is no "normal". What is normal to me may not be normal to you, what is normal to you may not be normal to me, what is normal to us may not be normal for others, and what is normal for others may not be normal for us.
This can be especially true when we want to be relieved so much from anxiety and fear. We often compare ourselves with others and we do worry about what if we can never live the life that we wanted to live, yet there are so many things that are beyond our control...
We want things to go well for us therefore we try our very best to make that happen. We try to control our anxiety, try to fight off our fear, try to manage our worries...
We get stressed, worried, and anxious when we don't know whether or not we will succeed, or where to go from here. That can also apply to how we see ourselves, our life and how we live our lives right now. Often we have this all or nothing thinking that I have to be perfect or otherwise I am a complete failure. Usually, this thinking will lead us to unnecessary pressure and stress, which takes away our capacity to enjoy life and learn to adapt when things don't go as planned, or when we have made mistakes.
Perhaps the first step is to give ourselves the permission to be ourselves and to be in touch with our being including all of our strengths and weaknesses.
Here are some words about perfection/control that might be helpful, these are often words that I say to myself over and over and over and over...again.
I am still working on it, let see if we can do this together :)
Here they are:
I don't have to be perfect.
I won't expect that of myself any longer.
I can be weak, I can struggle, I can panic, I can worry, that is perfectly fine.
I can be fine with myself, even when I don't feel fine.
Nobody can be perfect, and besides, there is no "perfect" way of doing anything. I just do things and no longer try to do them perfectly.
If I'm not doing something as good as I'd like, or I'm having problems because of anxiety, I will coolly and calmly accept it. By trying harder and pressuring myself more to do things in a precise and perfect way, I only make myself miserable, and I will actually hurt my performance. I just do what I need to do, and realize there is no perfect way to do them or no perfect way to feel. I accept it coolly and calmly if I have anxiety or if I don't understand something.
I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself any longer.
There is only pressure in a situation if I put it on myself. Nothing is that important. It's all small stuff. If others disapprove -- who cares? There is no pressure because there is no exact right way to do things. I repeat, there is no exact right way to do things. There is no pressure because there is nothing I have to do in a given situation.
I can do whatever I want. I can always do whatever I want. Whatever the consequences, they won't be that bad. There is no pressure because I can accept it if someone judges me to be nervous. There is no precise way to do things. I repeat, there is no exact right way to do things. Since there is not a precise way to do things, there is no pressure.
However, whenever I do something or however I act is OK. If I don't do something a certain way, the consequences will always be something I can deal with. There is no pressure because I can do whatever I want. There is nothing I have to do. There is no exact right thing to do. There is no pressure because whatever I do, nothing bad is going to happen.
There is no pressure because other people's opinions do not determine how I feel about myself or whether I am a worthy human being. If I want, I can just accept things peacefully and stare blankly into space and say nothing.
There is no pressure because I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself any longer.
I am putting a great deal of pressure on myself by analyzing every situation for the perfect way to do it. Remember, analysis = paralysis. When I feel pressured, I'm going to stop thinking and just do it. There is no universal perfect way of doing it, so whatever I do will be acceptable. If after doing something, I think I could have done a better job, I'm just going to say to myself, "Well, I learned something here, and this knowledge will help me do a better job next time.
It's OK. I don't have to be perfect. I am satisfied with my efforts.
My self-esteem is not determined by how I perform at a certain task or whether others judge me as being intelligent, competent, fun to be around, or good-looking. There is no pressure because I can accept it if someone judges me to be nervous.
If someone judges me as a failure in certain regard, I will be able to accept it, because I don't need their approval to sustain my self-esteem. My opinion of whether or not my work is good is more important than theirs. My opinion about whether my attitude is good is more important than anyone else's. My comfort with how I carry myself and what I do is more important than anyone else's.
And there is no pressure because as a human being I have the right not to have to justify what I do.
I can accept the fact that sometimes I am nervous and anxious. Just because I don't feel perfect, and sometimes experience more anxiety feelings than other people, doesn't mean that I am less valuable as a person or that I should feel ashamed. I have some tough feelings to deal with but I will keep using the techniques I am learning with cool, calm, confident, peaceful determination.
I will do things for my own enjoyment and growth and not for other people.
Thus there is no pressure, because if other people look down on my performance, looks, or the way I conduct myself, I can still be happy because I am doing things for my own personal satisfaction, not for other people's. I have the right as a human being to say "I don't know," "I'm not good at this task," "no", or "I don't care". I'm going to avoid using words like "should", "must", "can't", and "have to", because they make situations very rigid and pressuring. I will avoid worrying thoughts like "what if ____?" I will do whatever makes me happy.
The more I try to pressure myself into doing a perfect job, the more problems I cause for myself and paradoxically the more my performance suffers.
Pressuring thoughts are ANTs thoughts (Automatic Negative Thoughts).
Pressure is a lying ANT because no matter how I perform, things will be OK.
I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself anymore.
I won't pressure myself anymore. I have nothing to prove to anyone else or to myself.
Thus, I won't pressure myself anymore. There is nothing I have to do. Anything I do is OK.
I am who I am, and I am beautiful. Why? Because that is what I define myself with. It does not matter what the world thinks about me, what matters is who I see myself in the mirror.
Looking forward to talking with you more,