We have such a tendency to be hard on ourselves, but don’t beat yourself up about that. A big part of why this happens, is because of the way our brains are hardwired. We are born with a preprogrammed “negativity bias,” which means our brains react stronger, and become more active to situations we perceive as negative. This explains why our attitudes are influenced more by bad news than good, and why reality and news commentary shows are so popular. It’s also why we naturally tend to focus on how we failed, or didn’t quite hit it out of the park, rather than what went right.
Of course, it’s a good idea to evaluate our experiences, learn how to make things better, and strive for more, but at what point are we successful? Striving for excellence is good, but never being satisfied is not good. When we constantly ask, “Are we there yet?” it means we’re missing out on the sights and experiences along the way. Unfortunately, there is no “there,” or magical point in time when we finally feel satisfied. There will always be unfulfilled dreams; especially for big dreamers.
So, what can we do to lighten up? We can celebrate! When a goal is achieved – or even a task – no matter how large or small, take a moment to honor that success. There are so many fantastic reasons to celebrate! It increases our confidence, keeps us motivated, creates a success mindset and it’s just plain fun. Celebrating doesn’t have to be something big every time. It can be very simple. You can match the celebration to the size of the accomplishment, or you can go big or go home, every time. My favorite way to reward myself, is the gift of time. I love an hour to just do nothing, go to the dog park or soak in the tub. I’ve always thought it would fun to start a charm bracelet, buying a new charm for each major accomplishment. Here are more ideas and some simple ideas.
Celebrate failures too. An article I read on taming the inner critic suggested giving yourself a “woo-hoo” with every mistake. I’ve tried this and it really is more difficult to be hard on yourself after that. The true impact of celebration is learning, which also just happens to be the true impact of failing. To learn, we reflect on what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished, how we got there, as well as what may have led to our mistakes, unfinished projects and unmet goals. We can learn as much from our failures as our successes. To quote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, “From the ashes of disaster, grow the roses of success.” Isn’t that something to celebrate?