When’s the last time you’ve given yourself full permission to unapologetically celebrate yourself?
If you’re like most, I’d venture to say that it’s been quite a while. And yet, I’d wager that you actually have achieved much since then.
Not a week goes by where I’m not witness of yet another instance of this: women who, through hard work and dedication, reach important milestones, only to minimize them as soon as they’ve been reached.
I know this isn’t a lot compared to what you lift…
Well, I’m still working on incline push-ups…
This is probably just silly but…
This has got to end right here. Every single day, we overcome things—big things and little things alike, but not any less important—and yet we don’t let ourselves rejoice in those accomplishments.
By downplaying our achievements, we contribute to the issue that refrains us from celebrating in the first place: the culture of not enough.
I remember a few recent occurences of this phenomenon that broke my heart, each one happening several months ago. In the first case, one of my clients was bemoaning the fact that she was still struggling with the lunges in her program. She felt as if she wasn’t getting any better since she started working on them.
I had her pause and asked her how many she was doing in a set now, and then asked her how many she had started with—that’s when she realized she’d doubled her capacity in six weeks.
In another instance, a friend had been working on long-distance walking, as a way to combat chronic illness and inflammation. She started with just a few minutes a day, but eventually progressed to longer times, then longer distances, until she was able to walk the equivalent of a half-marathon. Her reaction? “Whatever, it’s not like I ran it!”
No. Just no. Stop downplaying your achievements.
There are two important reasons why we should celebrate instead of downplay—and they go way beyond ourselves.
First, celebrating our milestones—no matter how small—will give us impetus to keep going. It’s positive reinforcement at its best! By remembering that every journey is made from a multitude of small steps—much more than crazy leaps—it helps us keep things in a healthy perspective, and capitalize on momentum.
Celebration doesn’t mean that we stop working and just bask in the glory of whatever we’ve achieved. But recognizing how far we’ve traveled—even if it’s just a few steps in our eyes—is a good thing. It can even be surprising when we’ve been at it for a while! If, on the other hand, we systematically downplay all of what we do, what motivation can we have to keep going?
There’s an even more pernicious reason why this refusal to celebrate is hurtful.
When we downplay our own achievements, others are in turn encouraged to perceive theirs as less-than. That’s not ok.
We should contribute to a culture of celebration, of lifting each other up, of rejoicing in all accomplishments—both ours and those of our peers. We need to stop playing small.
It’s time to rejoice.