Women, people, tend to be tougher on themselves than anybody else. As snarky as we may be about others, especially strangers, the inside voice that we share with nobody else mocks us even more. It tells us that we’re bad at everything we try to do, that we’re barely treading water and will sink like a stone once people notice, that we’re failing at life, that we’re terrible friends, that we don’t deserve any of the good thing we have. Sound familiar? I’ve heard those things in my head too. Like you, I know that I should be much more positive and gentle with myself, and that I should recognize all of my accomplishments. But how? I don’t have a lot of answers, but here’s one thing that might help.
Write it down and read it back.
Try as small scale as jotting down everything you’ve done during the course of a day or three. You don’t have to share it with anybody, so you can be as detailed as you like, no matter how minor a task seems: got out of bed, put on clothes, brushed my teeth, drank a glass of water, read a chapter of a book, fed the cat, made myself a cup of tea, drank a cup of tea, read all of my unread email, drank another glass of water, answered three emails, put 30 minutes into a work assignment, attended a Zoom meeting, and on and on. Then later on, see all that you finished. It’s especially helpful on those days you feel like nothing got done, but really you just started or touched on a million things and only finished tiny little things that you would otherwise forget, not to mention helping you remember when you did something really big but it got buried because you were so busy with other things. Sometimes it’s not so much that you did one big thing, but that you did hundred little things that add up, so…
Try a little larger. Update your resume or curriculum vitae. It can be for your professional life, or for your hobby life, or for your personal life. List out all of the jobs you have had, certifications you’ve earned, accomplishments you’ve achieved. Include the classes you’ve taken, the events you’ve attended, the places you’ve traveled. Don’t forget the lives you have touched: the people you have mentored, the calls and chats that have gone deep into the night for someone in need, the time you raced to help bail a friend out of an emergency. Ignore for a moment the fortunate circumstances that have allowed you to do all of these things, and let yourself bask in the fact that you seized the opportunities as they arose and took advantage of them. Now take your name off the top and take another look. Bet you’ll see a pretty impressive person described there. That’s you. Recognize her?
If you’re having trouble, ask a friend. For that matter, ask a trusted co-worker or boss. Okay, maybe it’s really hard to just pop up and say “hey, I need to feel good about myself today, tell me something you like about me” (though I’d bet you have folks who would be all over that). But when they do mention something about what a great job you did with that customer, or how they loved your cookies, or when they really appreciated this thing that you did? Slide past the doubt that they’re telling you the truth and say thank you. After all, you like and respect what they have to say about other things, so what they say about you deserves the same. Now save that note. Squirrel it away. Scrapbook it. Stick it in your journal. Pull it out on one of those gray, dreary days when your inside voice is louder than usual. Use it next time you make a list of all of the reasons you’re amazing.
And one last thing. After you’ve digested all of that and processed it and boiled it down, please share it?