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For “125%” people, giving enough isn’t the problem! Do you know someone like this? Are you this person? 125% people don’t just give 100%, they give beyond what is needed and beyond what is healthy for their spirits.
Historical and Current Impact of Discrimination
One characteristic is their focus is on external praise rather than internal confidence, often more pronounced in women of color. They try to be perfect because they don’t believe they are allowed to fail, learn from their mistakes, and be given a second chance. Unfortunately, with the realities of society, these fears are not imagined. The wage gap continues to exist, as well as denial of the daily and historical experience of discrimination and harassment by both perpetrators and survivors. Just today I read a Facebook post by women acknowledging recovered memories of assault and harassment due to a Presidential candidate’s disparaging comments on women.
This supports the habit to do more than 100%. I recently caught a thought in my head that grinds my joy to dust: “If I had just said ‘it’ perfectly, I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.” I relaxed once it was safely in my consciousness and I could smile at my ego. A more authentic thought arose: “I took a risk and spoke my truth as skillfully as I could. I am on the edge of growth, which often feels scary/uncomfortable.” I am committed to releasing patterns and thoughts that no longer, if ever, serve me and I coach my clients to snare similar ‘125%’ thoughts. Why? The long-term cost is high at all levels of our lives.
“If I do Things Right”
I had been working with a client over several years who decided to go to grad school. Her primary worry revolved around how to tell her agency and fill her position many months ahead of time. She gave them four months notice, agreed to create a transition plan, AND lead the search process. She told herself she was doing this for the students and families. As we explored what swirled below this layer, she recognized she was still proving her worth by making everything easy for everyone else – that external pull for praise.
Much of this stems from our childhood experiences. Some unconscious thoughts that emerged for her: “If I do things right, I will save my family” and “Pretty, fun, and social aren’t going to get me anything”.
This A or B thinking leads 125% people to see the choice as giving more or failing. Failure is not an option if you are to save your family or your client or your partner. The habit that solidifies is an outward energy of giving, like a broken water spigot with no clear tool to control or stop the flow.
Giving + Receiving = Well-being
The result of understanding this dynamic is to focus instead on developing and using skills to manage the giving flow so that it is measured and involves receiving as well.
The tool I suggested to her and other clients is practicing being ‘good enough’, which for 125% people means scaling back to 100%. We have to dig deeper than the A or B options besides failure and giving more. Work to develop thoughts and actions that shift you into a ‘less is more’ approach, since 125% people already do far more than most people do. In doing this, my client felt more emotional energy to be present with the rainbow of feelings we all have when leaving a job or project. This allowed her to enter her graduate program with a high level of well-being rather than regrets and exhaustion.
Dangers of 125% behaviors
Giving to others can be used to avoid loving ourselves with all our foibles and challenges, to avoid saying and doing the kind, generous acts to ourselves that flow easily to others. This trajectory can become a tangle of unconscious resentful strings. “See how I do this for you? Do it for me.” We never say this, but it is our primordial plea, our belief that others’ love is the key to our worth.
The 125% approach gives us a false sense of control to manage the political, economic, psychological and spiritual impacts of oppression. It backfires when we hide perceived weaknesses rather than remember, as Maya Angelou said: “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” That means giving our full selves and accepting support and appreciation for our courage to take risks.
We are in this Together
We understand the importance of teamwork when we are on a project and we must apply this to all aspects of our lives. Get together to play, complete challenging tasks, and share joys and sorrows. Self-love and love of others are integral when you commit to do well rather than to do too much. Releasing each of those extra 25 percentage points is like clearing away cloud cover so that we can fully experience the sparkle of the stars in the night sky of our lives.