Does anyone out there know how to celebrate themselves?
I’m not talking about shouting from the rooftops so that everyone knows that you accomplished something, but rather taking even half a second after you do something, no matter how small, to pat yourself on the back, appreciate the work that went into whatever it was, and maybe even take a breath or a small break before jumping into the next thing.
If you do, can you please give me tips?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been driven to perform well, to have externally validated successes, to work hard.
For as long as I can remember, I have never once thought anything I’ve done has been extraordinary.
I got straight As as a high school student. I liked school and studying and working, so it was a satisfying process to earn those grades. And yet, somehow, I taught myself that I didn’t really deserve to be proud of them. I’d immediately think about the next test I had to study for, a question I got wrong. Nothing was ever “done,” so there was nothing to celebrate. Besides, I wasn’t special, anyone could spend time studying and doing the work to get good grades.
That thinking somehow trapped me into thinking that every thing I do is more or less the status quo. I mean, there’s always so much else to do or ways I could have done better. My mind focuses on what is lacking rather than what I’ve done.
I don’t know how to explain this: it isn’t being humble, it’s being utterly convinced that I did nothing deserving of celebrating. That something going well or pushing through a hard task or even holding myself accountable for what I said I would do in a day, is just the same as what anyone else would do.
Plus, look at all these ways I did it wrong, and there’s still so much on my to-do list, and I’m sure there’s someone else out there better than me.
If I receive external praise for something, which on some level is motivating (or rather, the avoidance of disappointing someone is motivating), I immediately want to brush off the compliment. It’s no big deal, whatever. It’s odd to think about both craving praise and not being able to accept praise.
To not think I deserve the praise.
Who hands out the definition of who deserves what? It apparently isn’t anyone I know, because if they compliment me, they must think I deserve it, but it doesn’t seem true to me.
So, of course, that definition has to come from me. I have to believe I deserve praise. Not even praise, but a moment of satisfaction.
I have to believe I deserve praise so that I can give it to myself. I have to give it to myself so that I believe I deserve it.
One one level, I’ve been trying to write down in my journal each night some of the highlights of my day in terms of accomplishments or moments I could be proud of. That’s important, though more for reminding myself that I’m not a lazy sack. The evidence, in fact, points to the opposite conclusion.
What I’d really love is to catch these moments when they happen. To take a second after finishing a draft and sending it off, to say “Ahh, that feels good, I worked hard on that.”
So, back to my very sincere request: tell me how you take this moment and how you have learned to believe yourself, when you deserve to.
I’m working my way through this list of words that have changed in meaning for me over time.
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