Are you proud of yourself? What pops into your head when you think of this question? I know some people who feel like they cannot be proud of themselves.
“I haven’t accomplished enough. That’s just expected of me.”
I used to be one of these people. It can be super easy to say these things again and again to yourself, without ever realizing that this might be more harmful than helpful. I want to introduce you to the concept of self-love and self-compassion today. You may see these words and have that “negative gut punch” as I call it. It can be hard to recognize all the good things that you can do, especially when you are at a low point. But next time you get that “negative gut punch,” maybe even during this article, I want you to take a moment and acknowledge the feeling. Bear witness to your body and how it is able to respond to things that upset you. You might even start to celebrate how your body works to alert you.
Now, onto celebrating the little things. Did you get out of bed today? Have you read something today? (I know you are reading this!) It’s okay if you didn’t get through that big project or you are stressed about how to pay rent.
You have existed today as your authentic self.
Some days we might find ourselves crossing off our to-do list left and right. Other days getting out of bed is the best we can do. Either way, take a deep breath. Now, release. Think of one or two things you have done today or in the past week that was positive. Say out loud “ I am glad I accomplished X,” with X being the small win (or wins!) that you came up with. Feel how it says to say this out loud. Maybe repeat it a couple of times.
Whether you know it or not your brain just released some dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that increases mood, motivation, and attention. So just by doing this small exercise, your brain is more motivated to achieve even more! Not only that, but you might find yourself in a better mood. Just think about the effects of doing this repeatedly throughout your day.
Now maybe you aren’t in love with that exercise or maybe you’re asking if there are other ways to achieve a similar result. Lucky for you there are a ton! I am going to introduce you to just one more to try. Think of a rose bush. There are thorns that you don’t want to be poked by, pretty flowers, and buds that are developing into flowers. Hence this exercise is called Roses, Buds, and Thorns. Roses are your small (or large!) victories; Buds are the future things you are looking forward to; Thorns are the negative things. Try listing a couple of each, but try to make sure that your roses outnumber your thorns.
I particularly like this exercise because it can be applied to so many things. I first did Rose, Buds and Thorns at the end of a Dungeon and Dragons game. (I’m a bit of a nerd.) The Dungeon Master (person leading the story) asked us to go around and list the roses, buds, and thorns of the game so that he could improve on his ability to run the game. I thought it was such a cool idea to take this exercise and apply it elsewhere in life to maximize fun.
We all have little things in our life that deserve celebrating. Starting to celebrate the little things puts us in a positive cycle of feeling better, having more motivation, and better attention to achieve even more reasons to celebrate. Celebrating the small things is hard but can lead to a more fulfilling life. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither was accomplishing your bigger tasks. It takes time, but by celebrating your victories along the way, you are making yourself much more likely to get there.
I hope you try one or more of the practices I mentioned in the article. Maybe your brain took one look at “Are you proud of yourself” and said “nope not me.” Doing these exercises are not a cure all, but just maybe it will give you a reminder that everyone deserves to be celebrated, especially you.