You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. — Gautama Buddha
Being the first one to cheer youself on avoids discouragement. Think of it as self-prescribed, preventative medicine.
Why? Because, there are many (employer, parents, or peers) who may be well intentioned, but unfortunately, all too often point out to us our short-comings, while forgetting to also point out our strong points or provide us with positive feedback when we’ve reached a milestone of one sort or another.
Most of us, most of the time, are in fact, over-criticized. It is so common place, that we start criticizing ourselves, possibly in a sort of ‘do unto myself before anyone has a chance to do unto me’ misguided attempt at self-defense. Self-deprecation is fine to a point if we use it in a way that applies a healthy dose of humor to our perception of ourselves, in order to find that perfect balance between our pluses and our minuses.
But after a while, it gets downright annoying that our triumphs often turn out to be the proverbial ‘sound of one hand clapping’ whereas our less than stellar moments are virtually announced on the Universe’s PA system or dipped in bronze and put on permanent, public display!
This is where discouragement can set in, unless we take preemptive measures.
You Need a Ritual
I do realize that cheerleading as an analogy is pretty hackneyed, but one aspect of the analogy I do find most useful is the implementation of ritual.
Rituals serve a variety of purposes, and one important purpose is the reinforcement of belief. In this instance, I’m referring specifically to believing in one’s own self.
If we are going to ‘do unto ourselves’ before others can, than we might as well make it a positive experience in which we praise ourselves for all the things we’ve done well, and cheerleading offers a great template for this. Two elements are essential:
We’re looking here to reinvent for our own use the theatrics of all that gymnastic choreography, the pompoms in constant motion, and the affirmative chanting so familiar to sports fans everywhere.
Exactly what one devises as a personal ritual is up to one’s own taste, but it should include:
Exaggeration of supportive emotional content — really allow yourself to drink in the feelings you associate with your accomplishment — let the ribbon break across your chest — you won the marathon! Wallow in it until it is an actual, physical sensation, and give yourself a strong mental image that you can call upon later to again invoke the same feeling when you’re ‘down a quart.’
Repetitive and exaggerated physical movement — Maybe you like to dance or hop on the TreadClimber or work those kettlebells or you could just lift your arms up and down in praise — what’s essential is to put some physicality into the moment to trigger nature’s original ‘happy pill’ endorphins, so that your association with the moment is strong and pleasant.
Loud (or at least imagine it loud if your neighbors are too close by) verbal repetition of simple and affirmative phrases — exclaim your triumph using action oriented terminology and say something like, “I am strong, capable, and successful at whatever challenge I invite into my life!”
Even though this may feel awkward at first, both because we may feel silly and because we’re supposed to take care of everything and everyone else first before we take care of ourselves, it is worth doing habitually. It’s true that tending to our own needs is often viewed by some as selfish, and childish. But taking care of ourselves is not optional. It’s mandatory if we are to be truly at our best when others need us.
Please share your thoughts on this topic in the Comments section below.
In the meantime,
Bestest to all,