Hand in your superhero cape

by Debra Dane on January 24, 2012

in Self-compassion & (Anti)-Perfectionism

A reader (and old friend) has been struggling with trying to do it all herself. She has been wearing her cape for a long time as superwoman and feels she is slowly falling apart.  As much as she knows intellectually she cannot be super-woman (or super- mom) all the time she struggles with how to be ok with not being that woman. She shared the following with me: “I really feel like I’m letting everyone down (especially myself) for not being able to [do everything and keep it all together] and then admitting defeat by saying I can’t do it.” What she is really looking for now is how to be at peace with this version of herself.


If there’s one thing I have learned in this life it is this – if one person expresses a feeling, struggle, view etc usually there are many more people out there feeling the same. So I feel compelled to share the whole truth with you all – you can find balance in this life, but you cannot find balance and do it “all” when it “all” is too much. We all strive for different things and we all have different lives. Over and over again we women (it is usually us women) put such high expectations on ourselves. Something has got to give.

I had been thinking about what I would share in this post since last week.  The irony is that today I realised I too had been pushing myself too hard and juggling too many balls. Now what I am juggling might not be too much for someone else, but I know myself and it is at the point where I know something has to give.


Unfortunately for too many of us what “gives” is the time we take for ourselves, the care we need to stay healthy, the self love that used to tell us we were rocking things! We pile on more and more things into our lives – and they are often good things, but even too much of a good thing is simply that – too much. We start focusing on what we are not doing and how we are not measuring up.

I have talked about self care before and how dangerous it is to keep giving yourself the leftovers. I even had Cherie from A Baby Called Max come and share her story as she had ended up in the hospital. I don’t think I can talk about it enough though.


We are all given the same amount of time in a week but that is just our starting point. The more responsibilities you add on, obligations you feel you need to honour, standards you need to meet, and people you need to carry, the less there is left for you.


When you feel ill from stress or lack of self care listen to your body.

When you cannot sleep because the stress is so great listen to your heart.



STOP and take a moment and start with you.

What do you need in your life? What do you need to feel healthy and cared for and strong? What do you need to feel supported and valued and loved?

YOU are worth being honoured and cared for and nourished.


If there is no time for you then something else needs to go. Self care is not selfish it is essential. The form it takes will be unique to you. Self care does not mean just having me-time or having a bath or reading a book, although all those things are forms of my self care. Self care really is about honouring our needs and not putting them beneath the needs of others all the time. Self care means respecting your limits without feeling like you should be able to do more -more than what? You do what you can with the time and energy you have and don’t push yourself beyond that point. There is a reason they call it a “breaking point”. That is what self care means to me – honouring and taking care of yourself, however needed, to stay outside the “breaking point” zone. Only you know where that line lies for you and only you can control whether you cross it or not.


Taking care of your needs does not make you selfish it makes you smart.

Sometimes we have to learn to say no.

Sometimes we have to step away, switch off and take a break.

Sometimes we have to leave something undone, unmade, or imperfect.

Sometimes we have to let ourselves off the hook, let go of the guilt and … (do what you want or need right now).


You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection. ~Buddha


As to how to be at peace with that I think a good place to start is to think – what would you say to your best girlfriend if she came to you with the same situation?

What would you say to your child if they came home with a grade of 80% on a project or exam?*


Be as kind to yourself as you would be to them.


Then I want you to look at all you did achieve and get done. Focus on the positives and allow yourself to aim for less than 100%. Good time managers know how to put their energy into the things that truly count. For the rest – delegate more, say no more, do something “just enough” to be okay. Do what is  important in the time you have available and then – stop – just stop and say enough. Save something in the tank for yourself (or better yet take care of yourself first).


Self care is self love .


Find your simple,



If you are looking for some guidance and inspiration on the topic of self care please check out my e-course “The 30 day self care blueprint” which is now available as a self paced course on instant demand.  Almost 300 women have participated in the live version and their testimonials shed some light on the impact the course has had on their lives.


* If your child came home with 80% as a score and your reaction is “where did the other 20% go” I would like you to read about letting go of perfectionism please!


be good to you


I am linking up with the lovely Jess at Diary of a SAHM for

Print Friendly

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Aroha @ Colours of Sunset January 24, 2012 at 7:18 am

Amen Deb! So well said and I hope that people who are still trying to be everything to everyone every time will take this to heart. I learned this lessons couple of years back when I was working, going to uni, had a toddler, a husband, a household to run (well, half run, I’m lucky my husband is SO GOOD at helping around the house) and I finally realised it was all just too hard, and too much, so I finished my certificate at uni but postponed the masters course until a time I feel I have the time to do it.

Like you said, what you are juggling might not be too much for some, and uni, kids, work, house may not be too much for others, but I knew my breaking point, mostly because I was already broken!

Great reminder that if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we will be no good for taking care of others.
Aroha @ Colours of Sunset recently posted..Week 3 {52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life}My Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

That is the tricky part – a lot of people would have been too afraid to stop their studies and put the master’s on hold. What would be the point if it was killing you at that stage of life. I hope you feel much better now…
Debra Dane recently posted..Redefining NormalMy Profile


Melissa January 24, 2012 at 8:30 am

Great post. I have learned the hard way that you need to take time for yourself. And no, we can’t do it all!


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:20 am

It stinks when we learn it the hard way but it is a lesson that most of re-learn over and over as new combinations of “must do’s” cause us to reach that point again. That was my lesson – i can’t be super blogger LOL
Debra Dane recently posted..This introvert is grateful for back to schoolMy Profile


Rhianna January 24, 2012 at 9:02 am

Wonderful post Deb, such wise and true words you speak of.
Rhianna recently posted..Me & YOU Monday. On Tuesday.My Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:20 am

Thanks Rhianna!
Debra Dane recently posted..Back to school: Getting ready and organised Round upMy Profile


Ames January 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

Amen. Sharing this right now, it’s so important!!
Ames recently posted..Style Challenge Update – Pregnancy StyleMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thanks for sharing Ames – I appreciate your support!
Debra Dane recently posted..Piquing my Pinterest {Australia Day edition}My Profile


Bianca January 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

love this post thank you Deb xx Needing words of wisdom like this lately.
Bianca recently posted..ocean sensory tubsMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hope all is well – i gather you do too much sometimes too – forget overeaters anonymous we need overachievers anonymous
Debra Dane recently posted..Piquing my pinterest {Planning Fun School Lunches}My Profile


fromawhispertoaroar January 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Overachievers Anon – 12 steps to letting go and feeling proud of your best…Sign me up. Please.


kirri January 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

I have to give you a ‘hell yeah” for this post!
kirri recently posted..How do I deal with perfectionism?My Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm

thanks hon – and your post today helps too! Not sure if you write it before or after my emails but it felt like you were talking to me LOL
Debra Dane recently posted..This introvert is grateful for back to schoolMy Profile


Veronica @ Mixed Gems January 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I have accepted I can’t do it all right now with a little bub, but I know there are a few things I still find it hard to let myself off the hook with, specifically recording all the moments in my girl’s lives and my journals. I used to be more consistent, especially with my first child, but I am so far behind now. I find it hard to shake that guilt off.
Veronica @ Mixed Gems recently posted..A Choice of Compassion?My Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

How about thinking that the reason you are “behind” is you are too busy living your life with them, giving them your attention instead of being tucked away documenting those moments. You are doing a great job and they will love you for the memories you make even if they are undocumented.
Debra Dane recently posted..Creating my family mission statementMy Profile


Shelley January 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Exactly the reminder I needed today Deb. I ended up quite unwell at the end of last year, and I’m sure it was stress related. Am working hard on self love and health, just trying to figure out my sleep issues and I’ll be on my way back to ‘me’. x
Shelley recently posted..Sleep, Baby, SleepMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I am with you hon – and my current terrible sleep situation is another sign i was ignoring. our body and our mind talks to us, up to us to listen before it is too late! I plan on learning heaps from you about wellness this year!
Debra Dane recently posted..Simplify your life {Week 3: Creating Mission Statements}My Profile


Lauren January 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Such important things to note…of course, it is harder to actually do then SAY I find lol sending this link to a gf who is a new mum, she is really struggling with the new mum guilt of even taking a shower (when hubby is home!).

A wonderful post :)


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thanks – and please tell your GF that when hubby is home and she showers to stay in there a good long time! she deserves the peace and calm of a good shower!


themotherexperiment January 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Oh my yes. I posted about taking time out on Monday. It’s with a religious spin for me but same principles. Stop, drop, rest. I have to work out what is truly important, let some stuff go, and be ok to do an almost-good-enough job on the rest. Great post and good timing in the balance series.
themotherexperiment recently posted..Me and YOU Monday week 4 – rest in aweMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Stop drop rest is great. I love the slogan for long road trips “stop revive survive” – it is about survival! revive= breathe new life back into something or someone
Debra Dane recently posted..Piquing my pinterest {Planning Fun School Lunches}My Profile


Jess January 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I need to excercise in the middle of the day. It’s how I unwind and it gives me the change I need for the afternoon, and I guard this with a fiery passion. Too many people try to steal that time from me but I don’t let them.

Great post Deb. I love how you recommend thinking about it from another’s perspective.
Jess recently posted..10 Reasons Why You Should Kill Your Washing MachineMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm

That is fantastic Jess that you guard it so fiercely – fantastic!
Debra Dane recently posted..Back to school: Getting ready and organised Round upMy Profile


Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots January 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Great post thank you Deb. I absolutely know I take too much on and expect too much of myself then get upset when I don’t do everything to my satisfaction. My aim this year is to be more organised and figure what is important and try to let go of the rest. My “self care” is going to be making time for health and excersise as I threw it all out the window trying to do everything else
Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots recently posted..Ready Set Go, It’s 2012My Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

It is so easy to let go of those and get to them later – i am in the same boat! xx
Debra Dane recently posted..Simplify your life {Week 3: Creating Mission Statements}My Profile


Lee January 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Good reminder Deb! I know I need to put exercise really high on my list of priorities for it to happen, it comes after everyone is fed and safe. I am also trying to find time when I can complete some tasks uninterrupted, whether it be tidying, making something or catch up with a friend. It’s the constant interruptions that wear me down. That’s why I am still doing the family mission statement!!!!
Lee recently posted..My week 16 -22 JanMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm

No rush – take your time and take care of you !
Debra Dane recently posted..Redefining NormalMy Profile


Lifeasmummymax January 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Oh i so needed to read this. Thankyou xx
Lifeasmummymax recently posted..What’s with all the judgingMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm

You are welcome – i hope you find a way to take care of you too and be ok.
Debra Dane recently posted..Simplify your life {Week four: Balance and The Wheel of Life}My Profile


fromawhispertoaroar January 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

You are a very wise woman. Thank you for sharing! Is it weird that I imagine your voice to be soothing, like your words feel when I read your blog? :) It is really hard to fight the voice that always says (in a really annoying, mean way) ‘you didn’t try hard enough’, ‘you’re a crappy mother/sister/daughter/partner’, ‘you failed’, etc. And what you said is spot on for me – the only thing that works in my head is to ask, what would I say to my little one? My best friend? And the answer is undoubtedly that I would be kinder, supportive, point out the crazy in beating yourself up and smother them in love! Why does it seem so hard to do that for ourselves? A work in progress, for sure.
fromawhispertoaroar recently posted..When Smart People Do Dumb ThingsMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I don’t know why it is true, but we are so much harder on ourselves than others! We let them off the hook, see when they are doing just fine, but us? we think – “you should do/be more”
Debra Dane recently posted..Life Planning for Your Family (and how to get your partner on board!)My Profile


Julie January 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

So true Deb. I definitely need this reminder. I believe it in theory, but in practice…
Julie recently posted..Carpe DiemMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm

The thing about “in practice” is it takes practice – so if we make it a priority and keep working on it then it becomes more a part of our lives. Just when you notice you are getting into dangerous territory at the very least you need to bring it back a bit and figure out what has to go in order that you can stay…
Debra Dane recently posted..Redefining NormalMy Profile


Lyndal January 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Great post – loved this ‘self care is not selfish, it is essential’ it is so true, and how often do we absolutely forget this, or lie to ourselves that it can wait, or not happen at all.
Lyndal recently posted..Follow the string… Part OneMy Profile


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

oh yeah the it can wait – where one day turns into 2 and so on… I find after a tipping point I have such a hard time returning to what I know is needed (right now that is exercise as I did not do much over the school holidays and it is my stress reliever – any wonder I am feeling so bad this week?)
Debra Dane recently posted..Piquing my Pinterest {Australia Day edition}My Profile


Misha - The Bling Buoy January 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm

This post is so timely Deb. It’s only a few days into the beginning of the school term and I’m already feeling a little freaked out! Great tips to be mindful of before I sign up to everything!


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Thanks Misha – i get freaked out too…
Debra Dane recently posted..Redefining NormalMy Profile


Beth January 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thank you for this post…the “if your child brought home 80%..” really resonated with me. My parents were the “what happened to the other 20%” type and I am determined not to be that parent! You reminded me that this will have to be something that I will have to consciously work on because I see myself trying to be that perfect person everyday. I am thankful I stumbled across your blog!


Debra Dane January 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

That is part of what my mission is – having people connect with what feels right for them that may be different than what they were raised to be, or what others feel…You are aware of it and trying to consciously change that – this is what I am doing as well so my daughters do not struggle the way I have. We can work hard to pass on the good and hold back the bad – and i admit it is not easy, but every time i bite my tongue in front of my daughter or apologise I am making those strides to make her future different.

Welcome to HLS! xx
Debra Dane recently posted..This introvert is grateful for back to schoolMy Profile


Marie January 25, 2012 at 1:09 am

As ever Deb you provide words of calming wisdom in an otherwise hectic world!! I’d really hoped to take more active part in your 52 project. Thanks to your sensible talk though I’ve been able to let myself just enjoy reading along, mulling the topics over in my head and enjoying hearing yours and other bloggers thoughts and journeys. I have given myself permission to just do what I can with it and it feels great!
Keep up the good work Deb. You’re an inspiration to me, as always.
Marie recently posted..JYC 2011 – December 17th: Christmas DoMy Profile


Anna January 25, 2012 at 5:35 am

You just made me feel not a lonely soul, as I felt like this for the past days…Indeed when a person feels something there are so many people out there feeling the same!
Anna recently posted..veneer teethMy Profile


Erin @ Eat Play Bond January 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Another outstanding post Deb! I love your point that self care is not selfish, but essential.
As far as whether some people can handle more pressure and more responsibilities on their plate, I believe everyone differs in the level of investment they have in their own set of tasks, someone may very well be doing more than I am but may not focusing as much on each task.
Doing ‘everything’ badly is only going to set you up to feel like a failure, learning how to say no is a difficult but invaluable skill.
Erin @ Eat Play Bond recently posted..Kickboxing in Hot Pants? You Cannot Be Serial.My Profile


Sarah January 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

A very wise post Deb…

‘Taking care of your needs does not make you selfish it makes you smart.’

I particularly love this, I think I’m kinda’ smart, so how come taking care of myself always consumes me with guilt?

I have finally got time to myself after being a SAHM for almost 9 years and yesterday I thought bugger housework, bugger writing I am going shopping (just 2 hours – crazy me huh!).
I did feel guilty, there were a million things I should have been doing, but it was the first time I had been shopping during the week without children, since 2003 (I had indulged in 2 full days shopping once before, in 2011).

Then in the middle of hoiking on a pair of very skinny jeans I get a phone call from my husband, asking my whereabouts, and then he made some sarcastic comment like, ‘I thought you were meant to be working from home…?’

He was joking, I hope… but I realised, at that point, phone to ear, wobbling precariously with one leg in a pair of rather unsuitable jeans, that shopping was work too.

I was working on my wellbeing! So I told him to sod off and hung up the phone!

Tomorrow I will be working from home, in a pair of baggy joggers!


Debra Dane January 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I know we emailed about this but you totally deserve any me time you can get – you have done so much and you deserve some time for you to write, have fun etc
Debra Dane recently posted..Grateful for old friendships (and technology)My Profile


Jane January 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Deb, you really should start working as a mind-reader! Goodness, I relate to *so* much here. Loving your wisdom, Sweetheart. J x
Jane recently posted..The paradox of our ageMy Profile


Debra Dane January 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Thanks Jane -i was worried my last email with you i offloaded too much… so happy to see you here ; ) thinking of you xx
Debra Dane recently posted..This introvert is grateful for back to schoolMy Profile


Wendee February 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Deb, I cannot thank you enough for addressing this issue and helping me see it’s ok to not be able to do it all. I want you to know I shared this on my FB page for lots of other moms/women in general and I keep going back to reread it frequently as a reminder that it’s ok……. <3


Debra Dane February 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

You are welcome Wendee – and I am glad you are slowly accepting your human-status! You are a wonderful human as you are – no need for cape wearing ; ) and thanks for sharing xxx
Debra Dane recently posted..How to find balance in your life? One rock at a time.My Profile


Grace February 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

“Self care is not selfish it is essential. The form it takes will be unique to you. ” – Very powerful words, Deb.
I think learning about self-care is an on-going process for women because as life is forever changing around us, so are our needs, goals and ambitions. I think this is where self-awareness goes hand in hand with self-care.
Grace recently posted..The Same Man…My Profile


Debra Dane February 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Grace – i agree and think that is true of everything we do and strive for – we need to reassess and change our course as our needs, preferences and goals change.
Debra Dane recently posted..Sharing my goals for 2012My Profile


Hands Free Mama April 18, 2012 at 7:59 am

That is such a beautifully written and powerful post. Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today. I hope you feel better soon. So thankful you shared this gem.
Hands Free Mama recently posted..Six Words You Should Say TodayMy Profile


Dana Starr Hobbs August 28, 2013 at 9:49 am

Oh Deb, this is perfect for me right now. I have gone beyond breaking point and ignored the signs because I thought “I could do it”. A panic attack and a much-needed wake-up call from my psychologist finally got through to me. As much as I was driven to keep helping my friends I realised that there is no point trying to rescue swimmers in trouble when you are already drowning. Lesson learned xx


Debra Dane August 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Oh hon I hope you are alright now – please take care of yourself – definitely can’t help others if you are not taken care of first – much love – deb xx


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: