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The antidote is self-acceptance

High Performers. High achievers. Those that seem to excel above the rest, and it appears to happen so seamlessly and flawlessly. Yet behind the curtains, these individuals continuously feel the pressure to perform, but cannot seem to let go even in moments where stress is an all-consuming force. Are they addicted to performance? What is it that drives them, even to the point of self-criticism, dissatisfaction, burnout, and physical or mental ailments? Regardless of the amount of work they put in, or the successful outcome, never feel as if it is good enough. Most people around them say, "well you did your best", or "you tried your hardest", or "it's okay, there is always next time", but for a high performer these words are meaningless and actually can irritate a high performer.


The high performer often experiences imposter syndrome. Earning great accomplishments, achieving great feats, yet never connecting that they did it, that this is due to their efforts and their hard work. It is almost a disconnection, and there seems to be a feeling of inadequacy despite the evidence all around them. So, my question now, is what drives someone to be a higher performer, what drives them to excel, and then what leads to imposter syndrome and burnout?


Could it be the lack of self-acceptance? That at some point in their lives, it was implied that performance equals worth. Maybe it was obvious and outright either through parents, or valuable trustworthy relationships, or maybe it was just an underlying tone that was hinted at throughout a household growing up. Either way that it happened, the internalization occurred. Leading to an equation that performance equals worth, that although this added up for the individual in their cognitive understanding, was not necessarily accurate. The inaccuracy leads to the adoption of high performance. This has then been reinforced over the years that if I perform well, they will never see my flaws. They will never see that I struggle with not feeling good enough... they will be so enamored with my achievements that I can escape their criticism... and the avoidance of criticism by others yet I continuously criticize myself.


Therefore, I propose that the antidote to overcome this, is the opposing force. Self-acceptance. Beginning to see worth and value in oneself for who they are, rather than what they can achieve becomes a pivotal point in reducing high performance stress, negative effects and the imposter syndrome. High performance is great, except that over time this can lead to detrimental mental health and physical health outcomes. One must be able to achieve balance. A balanced healthy view of self that leads to the desire to do well but is disconnected from worth. Learn to begin accepting yourself for WHO you are. Look at the character traits you possess, how do those bring value to your life. Begin embracing your strengths and viewing weaknesses as an opportunity for growth not an area to cover up. Begin accepting yourself, loving yourself. This is what will bring the balance needed. This is what will prevent the negative implications over long term such as burnout, fatigue, dissatisfaction, and ailments associated with the stress from constantly placing pressure on oneself. Self-acceptance is the antidote.



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