I recently held a workshop on “Positive Psychology In the Workplace,” and it was a wonderful refresher on research-based happiness enhancers.
One of the exercises I had the class do was to spend time reflecting on their successes. When was the last time you did that?
If you are like me, a “normal” woman just chugging along, juggling a million things, you probably aren’t spending time picturing yourself getting a pat on the back, much less patting yourself on the back.
Do it now. See yourself walking across a stage, in an auditorium filled with hundreds of people you have known throughout your life: family, friends, coworkers, bosses. You are in a hot pink graduation gown, and the announcer is having everyone stand up as you walk across the stage. The crowd roars as you hear a list of your accomplishments resounding throughout the auditorium… “And then Kathy did _____. And then ______.
“And then Kathy left that abusive relationship and finished her college degree.” (Thunderous applause.)
The diploma they hand you has a list of all your achievements. There you stand, smiling in your favorite dress, as all your friends and family clap. You hear whistles and yelling—and more applause. You stand there preening.
Research shows that valuing your achievements is an important part of long-term happiness. So, here’s a 2-minute exercise to help you do that.
Note before you start: Watch your self-talk. Many caring, compassionate and loving people have a tendency to self-talk critically. This is when our internal voice is hard on us, and we deal ourselves painful remarks that often are not based on anyone’s thoughts but our own. It’s a harmful hard-wiring that takes time to reverse.
So, during the 2-Minute Achievement Exercise, be kind to yourself. Your accomplishments can be found in the things you have done, places you have been, things you have learned, even the fear you’ve faced. In addition, measure your accomplishments from where you have been to where you are now, not by traditional modes of “accomplishment.” For example, if you grew up in an abusive household, dealing with substance abuse and no support, getting a high school diploma is an amazing accomplishment.
The 2-Minute Achievement Exercise | What to Do
Sit somewhere quiet, and write (not type) the following answers. Ask yourself:
- What are some things I have done that I really wanted to accomplish as a child? (Did you want to have a family? A job? Live in a big city? Rent an apartment? Get a job as an accountant? Did you do any of those things?)
- In what ways am I stronger or smarter as a result of relationships I have had in my life?
- What has my hardest job or learning situation taught me?
- In what ways have I applied what I have learned?
- What are three hard things I didn’t like the thought of doing but that I did anyway?
- Looking back five years, what have I done that I set out to do?
- Write down a sentence or some words of encouragement, something like: “Good work, Meghan. You have learned so much. I am proud that you __________. “
Now, give yourself some snaps, hon.
You might consider doing this exercise with a friend. Sometimes friends can help us see our accomplishments better than we can see them on our own. I once had a friend downplay her college experience when she said, “I smoked way too much dope! ” I added, “Yeah, but you worked three jobs, paid for college on your own, while dealing with a dying father. That is so incredible.” She smiled and said, “Wow. Now that you put it that way…”
Do that for yourself, dear. And, as always, take care.
If you would like to help me feel more accomplished, buy my book. (Insert grin). Or…..
For more helpful guidance on how to empower yourself in your relationships, check out my website and at-home e-courses at www.stopgivingitaway.com. Join our email list! We would love to have you. Sign up here.
Cherilynn Veland is author of Stop Giving It Away, a self-advocacy book for women. Stop Giving It Away is the product of 20+ years of social work and counseling individuals and couples. Cherilynn also blogs about home, work, life and love at www.stopgivingitaway.com.