When I was at lunch the other day – mmmm, the best roast ever, I’d highly recommend the Gun in the Docklands – my friend Harri mentioned that as part of some kind of team-building day at her work, she and her colleagues had to bring in something that had made them proud of themselves – I guess like a grown-up version of show and tell. She wasn’t sure what to bring, so she asked what we would bring in if it were us. Being British, the entire table fell collectively silent apart from the odd “Errm …” and “Dunno really, ummmm …”.
Then just yesterday I ran into a friend of mine and happened to mention that I’d worked a 90-hour working week last week, because of a deadline I’d had to meet on Friday. Her immediate answer was “Oh but you must be really proud of yourself for getting it all done right?”. I thought about it and actually, now she put it that way, I was proud of myself. It was a tough deadline to meet on a matter that wasn’t mine, and I had no help apart from a couple of (admittedly fabulous) inexperienced trainees. Instantaneously my mindset changed from “Man, what a week” to “Man, I managed to get all that done in just a week!”. Had she not said that I should be proud of myself, however, it wouldn’t even have occurred to me.
It got me thinking about how important it is to be proud. Obviously, as Brits, it’s really really difficult for us to get out of that self-deprecating mindset which simply won’t allow us to think about ourselves in a positive light. However, we should be proud! Everyone has something to be proud of, it’s simply a matter of changing your way of thinking to be able to recognise it. There is nothing wrong with being proud but there is everything wrong with failing to treat yourself with the respect that you deserve. This is all the more important for two reasons – first, if you don’t like yourself you’re really kind of stuck, because you have to spend A LOT of time with yourself going forward. It’s gonna be kind of hard to get away from you, to be honest … so you might as well learn to like yourself! The second reason is that we all know our own flaws and mistakes, so even when something looks perfect to the outside world, you have that internal knowledge of “Well yeah it’s okay now but actually I screwed it up like four times before I managed to get it to that point and actually, is that a typo I can see there on page 58? …”. That means that even the most perfect result doesn’t seem perfect in light of that internal knowledge. However, if it was someone else presenting that report or running that event or doing that well at work, you’d think they were amazing right?!
I spent some time writing in my beloved happiness journal last night (seriously, that was one excellent impulse purchase) and I decided that I wanted to identify various things to be proud of myself for. I tried to think of things I was proud of for different reasons, and when it got tough I thought of myself in the third person – that is, what would I have been proud of my friends or family for doing? Once I had that different viewpoint it became a LOT easier.
One thing that was massively notable to me was that they all, without exception, came after I started looking after myself and focusing on my health. To be honest I don’t really know myself whether this is cause or effect, but I know that they’re linked. It’s yet another reason for me to be in love with focusing on my health – it just makes me happy!
The other thing was that they weren’t all big things. There are not enough big things in the world to wait for them to come along! It can be lifting beating a PB on a run or lifting a new 1 rep max. It can be learning something new in work or making a new friend or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone … anything at all, big or little. There are so many opportunities to be proud but we never take them because we’re too busy rushing around forgetting to focus on them.
So what are you proud of? What would you take in for a pride show and tell? If you think about it from a third person perspective, it becomes loads easier – give it a whirl!