"Happy Texas"

with Jeremy Northam

Viewed September 2, 2000

The thing I enjoyed most in this discussion was exploring the ways in which we (all of us perfectionists-we know who we are!) often expect more out of ourselves than anyone else does. It seems like we have some sort of internal grading scale that we picked up from someplace-school? parents? siblings?-that evaluates everything we do, and won't let us rest until we achieve 100% (or maybe 110%) of what we "should" be doing.

We discussed the possibility of reducing our "good enough" quotient (see Question #10) from 110% down to maybe 60% or 70%, so that we don't make ourselves exhausted physically, emotionally and psychologically. Sometimes, others feel fine with our 60% effort, and we are the only people who don't give ourselves a break. We try to live up to our boss's or spouse's expectations, even if Superman could never live up to them (Question #4). And in the final analysis we accomplish little more than wearing ourselves out.

Some of us talked about how they've needed to step outside their usual mode of "being nice" when they've had big heartbreaks (Question #5), in order to vent their anger or hurt. Others said that they've never let themselves do that. We also discussed how we avoid intimacy with others (Questions 6 and 7) by being so independent that we don't let others help us, and therefore we don't need to experience our vulnerability.

Here are the questions:


  1. How have I gathered courage when I'm thrown into an unfamiliar situation?
  2. In what ways have I denied my feelings about someone because of fear of rejection?
  3. How do I let someone I'm not romantically interested in, down gently?
  4. In what ways have I tried to live up to the unreasonable expectations I've perceived from others?
  5. How have I handled my big heartbreaks?
  6. How do I go about getting to know people at a deep level?
  7. How do I deprive people of being part of my life?
  8. How has the past come back to haunt me in the present, and how have I dealt with it?
  9. How can I authentically be the person I am in the present, in spite of others' preconceived ideas?
  10. What is "good enough" in my book?