When was the last time you celebrated one of your successes? I only ask because it’s become apparent to me that, more often than not, we don’t celebrate them to the same extent that we dwell on our mistakes.
Think about it for a moment; I know from experience that if I have made a mistake or classed myself as a ‘failure,’ it can consume me for days. It’s all I think about and I feel sad, annoyed, and really low. Yet, when I do something that I should feel proud of, I dedicate only a few minutes to feeling happy before moving on to the next thing.
I had a recent experience with this. Five days ago, I passed my driving test. I failed it the first time back in January and felt so frustrated with myself because I knew I could have done it if I had more faith and didn’t second guess myself.
When I re-took the test, I actually thought I had failed within the first ten minutes and I remember sitting at a set of lights, shaking my head. The feeling of frustration returned and I told myself that I wasn’t good enough. When I arrived back at the test centre, I was told I had passed and that I drove really well - my hands were shaking (to the point my instructor asked if I was okay!) and I couldn’t believe it.
Often in situations like this, I would feel so excited but this would quickly be replaced by stronger negative thoughts of not being good enough, which would take over the positive, happy ones I had. But this time, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Even now as I write this, I am smiling at the memory and feel so proud that I did that. My dedication, my choices, my actions meant I passed the test I desperately wanted to. Now, I can get a car and drive to and from university whenever I need to. I can visit home more, and I have more freedom. That was all down to me.
I overcame my own thoughts and beliefs, my own nerves and pushed through to achieve something I had wanted for so long. I made sure to celebrate with those around me, my mum’s friend brought me a little ‘well done’ cake and my mum cried with happiness. My dad was so excited for me and my aunt was interested to know what happened from start to finish.
But what was also important was that I made sure to celebrate with myself too. Whenever my friends were successful (or indeed, passed their driving tests), I celebrated their achievement and I asked myself, ‘why aren’t I doing the same for me?’ I decided to write in my diary what happened and my thoughts around it so I can always look back and remember specific details. I put my theory test results, my practical results and my driving information book together in a little box and I took photos with my certificate to put in there too. I spent the rest of the day in the garden, enjoying the sun and I got myself a strawberry milkshake too.
I wanted to make it a big deal for myself - because it is. I dedicated several days to dwelling on my first test and I wanted to make sure I spent more time celebrating this second test and allowing myself to feel proud. It is so important to celebrate your successes (no matter how big or small they seem!).
This last month has been one of highs and lows, of successes and opportunities for improvement and at times, it was really hard to navigate because I don’t give myself the credit and reflection time I should. I am becoming more aware of how much time I spend beating myself up for bad test grades, making decisions that are different, or believing I am not good enough. Whilst it is normal to feel sad about certain grades or nervous about new decisions, I know I need to dedicate more time to reflect on the achievements that make me feel happy.
Next time you hit a milestone or feel proud of an achievement – celebrate it! And if you’re combating any negative thoughts around celebrating your successes, ask yourself, ‘why aren’t I celebrating myself the same way I celebrate everyone else?’ No matter what the achievement is, if it’s important to you, dedicate the time to reflect upon it and feel proud of yourself.
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