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Perfectly Imperfect Image

How To Make Better Friends With What You See In The Mirror

1024 682 Deborah Newton, life-coach for Clear Skies Coaching Limited

Perfectly Imperfect Image

“It’s what’s on the inside that matters.” Riiiiiiiight. You may feel this rings true for you intellectually. And you may even wholeheartedly believe this applies to others. But do you really believe this when it comes to your own good self? When you look at yourself in the mirror, can you see past your perceived flaws? You can’t help but see lumpy bits, wrinkles, ugliness, a humongous stomach, cellulite, a crooked nose…the list can feel endless. Feeling dissatisfied with your appearance can affect your self-confidence and impact how you interact in life. Read on to learn steps for helping you get on the path of appreciating yourself even just a little bit more…

“Next time you look in the mirror, make a mental note of what you’re telling yourself. Just observe the judgements you’re making. And observe how one remark can trigger a downward spiral of further negative comments.”

What are you saying to yourself?

Disliking your appearance in some way may be something you have carried around with you for years. Periodically reminding yourself just how dreadful you look may have become so habitual that you’re not even conscious of your self-criticism.

Step 1: Next time you look in the mirror, make a mental note of what you’re telling yourself. Just observe the judgements you’re making. And observe how one remark can trigger a downward spiral of further negative comments. The more you can pick up on the first ‘layer’ of self-criticism, the greater chance you have of being able to separate yourself from that criticism. And as a result, you’re less likely to get embroiled in the exhausting cycle of self-rebuke.

Not good enough for who?!

So we’ve established you’ve spent a good portion of your life reminding yourself time and time again that you’re simply “not good enough”. You’re not slim enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not attractive enough. These statements become so normal and so engrained that you treat them as factual; as the truth.

Step 2: When you’re telling yourself you’re not enough in some way, PAUSE. And ask yourself:

“Enough for who?”

(And if there is someone who is telling you’re not enough then maybe now is the time to evaluate your relationship with that person!)

“Enough for what?”

Who are you measuring yourself against? What standards are you placing on yourself? Where have those standards and measurements come from? Who says we should be measured and compared alongside someone else? And what does being attractive enough actually mean? Digging deeper into thoughts can shine a light on how irrational, unrealistic or unhelpful our self-judgements may be. Or they may reveal pressure that you’ve piled on yourself due to a previous experience that you’re not letting go of.

“You are not your body or your face. You are your laugh, your smile, your kindness, your irritability, your caring nature, your habits, your skills, your passions, your dreams, your wisdom, your sense of humour, your sensitivity…there is no exhaustive list.”

Resist Or Accept

So you’re as sure as hell not going to validate yourself, so you look externally. And if someone else gives you the approval you’re desperately looking for, you finally feel good about yourself….temporarily. And then you’re back to square one.

Or perhaps you don’t receive the validation you want from others, and so you fall deeper into what seems like a bottomless pit of shame and self-disgust.

Apart from the pit is never bottomless. And ‘square one’ is not permanent. You have a choice.

You can continue to resist yourself, lamenting the state of your appearance. OR you can start by ACCEPTING yourself.

Step 3: Whenever you experience self-loathing or self-criticism, place your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “I accept myself exactly as I am right now”. Out loud or just a thought – it’s whatever you feel comfortable with.

Who are you, really?

You are not your body or your face. You are your laugh, your smile, your kindness, your irritability, your caring nature, your habits, your skills, your passions, your dreams, your wisdom, your sense of humour, your sensitivity…there is no exhaustive list. The more you can focus on what is ‘right’ about yourself, the more you can recognise you are SO much more than your exterior. You are refusing to be identified purely with the physical.

Step 4: Make a list of everything you like about yourself. If this is a struggle, ask a friend or family member. And include anything – no matter how small (for example, from acknowledging your eyebrows to appreciating your dedication to housework!). Remind yourself you’re more than enough by looking at this list on days when you’re feeling particularly down about yourself.

And if you need some inspiration on how you are so much more than your body, I urge you to watch this wonderfully moving and uplifting TED talk from Janine Shepherd.

We are all perfectly imperfect, FACT!

Consider these wise words of Lao Tzu: “When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be.” This moment is a new opportunity to let go of the pattern of self-rebuke and the clinging to the exterior. By doing that, you give yourself permission to shine brighter than you’ve ever shined before. And remember: we are all perfectly imperfect in our own unique way. The sooner you can make friends with your imperfections, the greater freedom you have to enjoy life.


How To Make The Perfect Poached Egg

1024 682 Rachel Le Feuvre, Reset Button



Ever wondered how restaurants make perfect poached eggs every time?

Here’s the secret…

You’ll need: eggs (obviously!), coconut oil, cling film and a shallow glass or ramekin.

Rip off a piece of transparent cling film about 30cm long.

Lay it flat on a clean kitchen top.

With your clean hands spread coconut oil on the cling film.

Place cling film over a short glass or ramekin, keeping the oiled side up facing you.

Push the cling film into the short glass or ramekin so there is room to drop the egg into it.

Gently break an egg into the centre.

Lift the corners of the cling film and twist all together carefully, leaving a small air pocket with the egg.

Tie a knot in the cling film so that it is air tight around the egg.

You can do this in preparation the previous night, or use it straight away.



Boil a pan of water then reduce to a fast simmer. Place the poached eggs in for 4-5 minutes until cooked to desired firmness.

Remove cling film with care, using scissors to cut where the air pocket is.




How To Live As A Happy Perfectionist In 6 Steps

1024 576 Deborah Newton, life-coach for Clear Skies Coaching Limited


Perfectionism can lead us to achieve great things. A certain level can be healthy and can be motivating. But at its worst, it can be a contributor to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, relationship break-downs, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome. It can mean we are caught in a cycle of self-blame and criticism if our ambitions are not met. We feel worthless because we are failing to reach (often unattainable) goals.

So how can we deal with the perfectionist self? Awareness of our perfectionism and accompanying self-criticism is the first step.

What Do We Mean By Perfectionism?
Perfectionism has been defined in psychology (Stoeber & Childs 2010) as “a personality disposition characterised by an individual striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”


The Infectiousness of Perfectionism
Perfectionism may be present in many areas of your life: relationships, fitness and diet, hobbies and interests. Even personal development can turn into a self-flagellation exercise with a focus on attaining perfection or indeed ‘enlightenment’.

Being a perfectionist may have served you very well as a lawyer. Accuracy, a keen attention to detail, doing a ‘good job’, or simply striving for excellence, are all attributes which spring to mind. You may find that your clients are happy, as your work is of a high standard. Friends and acquaintances may well admire you for your perceived success. But how do you feel on the inside?

Beware The Uphill Battle
Perfectionism can feel like running on a treadmill. And it can come in any of the following guises:

• You generally think you could do better. Extreme perfectionism comes from a source of feeling deeply flawed; not being good enough.

• You often compare yourself to others.

• You believe you will feel happier or better about yourself when you’ve reached the bar you’ve set for yourself.
• You categorise things in a black or white fashion: good or bad, success or failure, right or wrong. There is no in-between.
• When things don’t go as you had hoped, you blame yourself. It’s your fault. You’re a failure.
• If you do achieve what you set out to achieve, you assume you got lucky; people felt sorry for you; the bar was too low.
• You focus on results, and dismiss effort and intention as irrelevant.
• Hobbies are less about enjoyment but more about achieving or reaching perfection.
• You focus on self-improvement. You rarely acknowledge your achievements. Any feelings of satisfaction at achieving certain things are only temporary.
• You take criticism as negative and personal.
• You spend a long time on tasks, pouring over details. Ultimately making you less efficient.
• You avoid certain situations for fear of not being good enough in front of people. The irony with being a perfectionist is that it can sometimes stop us from achieving what we are trying to do well!

How To Be A Happy Perfectionist
1. Be conscious of your perfectionist traits and the impact they may be having on your daily life.
2. Notice any thoughts you have of self-judgment. Recognise them for what they are – thoughts. See if you can catch your thoughts before you become embroiled in a destructive cycle of self-criticism.
3. Be mindful of high bars you’re setting for yourself. See if you can accept a lower, more attainable bar. Perhaps you could aim for 80% instead of 100%? A perfectionist’s ‘80%’ often equates to someone else’s 100%…
4. Accept your mistakes! OK, I know it’s easy for me to write that – none of us want to make mistakes. But mistakes in life are inevitable. It’s how we react to them that’s important. We can actively choose to learn from mistakes and move on from them.
5. Don’t define yourself by a list of achievements or external factors. Acknowledge your positive traits and qualities.
6. Treat yourself with the same loving kindness you would treat someone dear to you. You deserve it, even when you do make a mistake…

And remember, what we perceive as a ‘mistake’ may well turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to us.



Pressure To Be Perfect

1024 627 Stewart Brown


It started out as being a fun game. Spotting typo’s on menus. My friends would laugh with me at some of the amusing mistakes. But my tutting at unnecessary double-spacing soon got on their nerves.

I couldn’t help it. Nine months in to my training contract at a Magic Circle Firm and the mantra “attention to detail” followed me wherever I went, including when I had left the office. Perpetual proof-reading had turned me into a pedant.

perfect pressure

I guess it all started when my supervisor gave me some advice at the start of my first seat. “The way to keep me happy,” he intoned with a stern look on his face, “Is to ensure that the staple is at a right angle to the top edge in the top left corner of the paper. Stapling at an angle just will not do.” I added this requirement to the growing list of requirements of how to be the ‘Perfect Lawyer’.

And perfection was what I was aiming for. My work was examined in minute detail by my supervisors. I longed for the day when a two-line email was returned to me without corrections. As my responsibility grew, so did the pressure to get everything just right. Triple checking became the norm. I would start early and finish late to ensure attainment of the standards that I thought signified success.

Looking back, the pressure to be perfect warped my perspective and eroded my confidence; suggestions from senior lawyers became criticisms; minor errors became major mishaps in my head.

Fortunately, I learnt a valuable lesson towards the end of my training contract. It was Monday morning and I had worked all weekend with a senior lawyer (let’s call him Michael) on a financing deal, which had to launch by 2pm that afternoon. Lack of sleep started to impact my work. Errors started creeping in. Michael spotted my growing irritation. “You are doing a great job.” he assured me. “Let’s look at the big picture. We have documented the important detail. We have a limited amount of time to get the rest into shape. And that will be good enough. Just do the best you can.”


Nearly 20 years later, I can still picture that moment. Experience had taught Michael that getting stuff done for your client sometimes means that everything might not be perfect. He had reminded me to focus on what really matters, namely, understanding and correctly documenting the commercial intention of the deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, when I worked as an in-house lawyer years later, sloppy drafting, incorrect numbering and frequent spelling errors did more to undermine my confidence in the content than anything else. And we can all think of cases where minutiae have mattered; where cases have been won or lost on single words and phrases. But, my point is this: Michael’s wise words prompted me to give myself permission to make mistakes and to redirect my attention to the detail that really mattered.

People have an amazing ability to beat ourselves up. We treat ourselves like a lodger rather than a friend. We criticise, complain and outright attack ourselves in a way that we would never do to another person. We construct a model of the ideal person we wish we were and then beat ourselves up for failing to match up to those impossible requirements.

My experience is that lawyers have a particular problem with this type of self-abuse, which often stems from that self-imposed pressure to be perfect. Unhelpful training and unnecessary client pressure can compound the situation.

So, my advice is focus on what really matters. Understand where that pressure to be perfect comes from and give yourself permission to make mistakes. Your health and relationships depend on it.