My father was born in California and has always held some of the wide-eyed optimism associated with America’s West Coast. I lost count of the number of times growing up I heard him proclaim the Irish to be a “Nation of begrudgers!” Unfortunately, I must admit that I have often found this to be the case myself. People never seem to like to see their neighbours or friends doing well, or getting “ideas” about themselves. It is only recently, however, that I have begun to notice how often we do this to ourselves.
We cheat ourselves out of celebrating our achievements with alarming regularity. I remember the Weight Watchers meetings. Sitting there waiting on the others to be weighed in. They would come back and take their seats to a chorus of “well, how did you get on?” It seemed that no matter what the weight loss was, the person always followed it up with a big fat BUT! “I lost 5lbs, BUT I was expecting more,” or “Down 2st now, BUT still a long way to go.”
Slimmers do this too when they buy new clothes. They will slide into a sleek size ten and no sooner then they have it zipped up then they will start exclaiming “Ah, BUT the sizes are big in here!” Ok, yes, I acknowledge dress sizes can be whacky at times. You can pull two seemingly identical dresses off the rack and one will fit and one won’t. This can be frustrating and certainly I wouldn’t be surprised to fit into a dress one size bigger or smaller than normal. However, if you were a size 18 in the past and you are now strutting around the fitting room in a 10, this is not a sizing issue. This is what I call a “Hell Yeah moment!”
Believe me when I tell you, these moments don’t come around too often, so enjoy them to the fullest when they do. I am not sure what it is that prevents us from doing exactly this. Is it that we don’t want to be perceived as vain or arrogant? Could it be that we don’t want make others, who may be struggling, feel bad? Or is it simply that we feel we don’t deserve it?
Other areas of lifestyle change can also suffer these effects. It seems that every time I try to learn something new, be it double unders or pull ups or handstands, I say to myself “if I could just get one, I would be so happy” What happens in reality, is that no sooner have I done one, than I want to string ten together! Of course a certain amount of this is healthy. It’s good to keep pushing yourself and to want to progress. But there is also a lot to be said for taking a beat to celebrate what you have just achieved. You don’t need to run around the gym high five-ing everyone in sight, but a little Hell yeah is definitely encouraged.
This self deprecation, whatever the cause, is not limited to health and fitness. We take the wind out of our own sails in work, relationships and personal achievements too. In fact, I would find it difficult to find an area of my own life, which has not been subjected to this treatment. You know how it is? Yes, it’s great that you got a new car, BUT it’s not brand new. Yes, it’s wonderful to get a promotion, BUT it didn’t come with as big a raise as you were hoping for. We constantly begrudge ourselves our own happiness. It’s relentless and it’s crazy.
Mindfulness and gratitude are very topical at the moment. Everyone is reminding us to appreciate all we have. I can’t help wondering though, if we may be forgetting something important. I wonder do we ever take the time to be grateful for ourselves. To celebrate the milestones and to acknowledge the work that went into bringing them about. I saw a Robin Sharma quote recently that said “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” I was struck by how simple and powerful this message is. These little achievements, that we are so quick to but away, are what will set the years apart from each other.
In life there will always be someone ready to talk you down. Try not to add your own voice to the dissenting rabble. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. So, I am setting myself a challenge. For the next 30 days, if I receive a compliment, I will just say “thank you!” I will not try to brush it off, or even tell the person that it was €3 in Penneys! More importantly, for the next month every time I achieve something, no matter how small I will be grateful. I will acknowledge the moment and be present in it. NO BUTS. Why not try this with me? Perhaps we may see the world reflected more positively when we stop trying to take the good out of it xxx