Why do I always assume I’m to blame? That I did something wrong?
For example, this email exchange occurred today at work:
Employer: “By EOB today, can I get a file containing updated versions of these graphs”
Me: *sends file updated file with all the graphs*
Employer: “Thanks...I just need the graphs separately ”
Me: “Sorry! Here’s the new file.”
I read a certain tone into the ellipse, and I wonder at my inability to correctly interpret what he needed. I even add “Sorry” to my response, even though it's completely understandable why I sent what I did. And before I could agonize and negative self-talk myself more, this response comes through:
Employer: “No worries...I’m sorry I didn’t state that clearly initially.”
Taking responsibility for the mistake. Letting me know I wasn’t at fault. That I’m not as dumb as I was telling myself I was. My perfectionistic tendencies and fear of being seen as not smart or capable reared its ugly head again. But at least this time there was physical evidence capable of shutting the negative thoughts down before I spiraled down the rabbit hole.
Most times there isn’t. A lot of times I need to keep repeating affirmations like “You’re allowed to make mistakes”, “You know what you’re doing”, or “This isn’t life or death.” Which is tough! And it doesn’t always work… However, I have noticed that I don’t stress and cling to these mistakes for as long. I’m starting to automatically realize they’re just a part of working and living. I’m having to rely less on logically reminding myself of this fact and more on knowing instinctively. Which gives me hope and proves that I’m making progress.
So, if you’re like me who overthinks every mistake and undervalues their own expertise, I hope this gives you encouragement.
You can do this.
You’re smart/ creative/ strong enough.
And, oh yeah, business emails are just that: business emails. They don’t define any part of you, especially in your real, personal life outside those eight hours.