How celebrating replaced self-doubt with self-trustDec 04, 2022
I consider myself a recovered perfectionist, yet self-doubt sometimes creeps in, although differently now. When using perfectionism as my primary strategy to manage stress, I saw doubt as a fact and a heavy load. I now see them as blinking yellow lights. It means to pay attention and, if safe, proceed. And as with yellow lights at traffic intersections, if I’m honest, sometimes I slow down when I experience doubt, and sometimes I speed up because I’m in a hurry. But I never treat it like a red light, bringing me to a screeching halt in life.
Doubt, like most things, has a range. If you put it on a continuum, it might look like a second thought on one end ranging from an inability to focus, concentrate, and paralysis to make any decisions on the other. However, the mechanism in our brain that activates doubt is the same no matter where it is on the continuum, which is good news. It means we can develop skills to respond to doubt and use them anywhere along the continuum.
All too often, what happens is that we outsource our power to those around us. This happens within families, friendships, and romantic partnerships if the balance isn’t healthy. For example, suppose one person in the relationship struggles with self-doubt. In that case, the other will pick up the decision-making power often because they believe they are helping but sometimes because the control of the relationship feels good. But over time, the person who has relinquished their decision-making sees a decline in self-esteem. They also begin to feel unseen and unheard, even if they struggle to express their opinions and needs. As a result, the relationship is unhealthy and unbalanced, and we can begin to forget we have an idea and struggle to find our voice.
Doubt depletes our energy. It takes a large amount of emotional and mental energy to keep doubting. As a result, we feel tired and struggle to focus. Often we don’t identify doubt as the source and wonder why we feel exhausted all the time. All the while, we keep doubting, keep second-guessing, and questioning if we’re doing the “right” thing. Doubt is like an app running in the background of your mind draining your battery. So let’s talk about how to update your settings so that you can get an energy boost and trust yourself.
The quickest way to build trust is to celebrate. This doesn’t mean throwing a party for other people to acknowledge something. The celebration is BY you, FOR you. One of the reasons doubt creeps in is when we look for validation outside of ourselves. When we rely on that outside validation, we lose our opinions. So when you celebrate yourself, it pivots back to the focus that your opinion and joy matter most. Your mental well-being is central to your life. And when you are mentally well, the relationships around you begin to be healthy too.
The celebration you throw for yourself doesn’t need to include balloons, cake, banners, or confetti. However, it can consist of those things if you love cake and confetti. When I use the word celebration, I mean marking something meaningful by doing something pleasurable to you. A celebration can take place in words, actions, gifts, and rest. So if you’re moving and packing a box after a long period of procrastination, celebrate. It might mean celebrating with a simple, fun, refreshing drink. It might mean celebrating by doing a happy dance. It might mean that you give yourself permission to go for a walk and not start packing again for one hour. It’s the acknowledgment of the accomplishment that’s important, not the specific way you celebrate.
The other form of celebration via words can look like selling yourself on a decision you made. For example, if you were debating between packing for a move and scrolling TikTok, you should genuinely acknowledge why your decision was wise, clever, fulfilling, or the best use of your time. The truth is, however, you can celebrate ANY decision with words. So let’s take the same scenario, you’re looking at a pile of boxes, knowing you should be packing for your move, and choosing to scroll TikTok. But you set a timer, so you only scroll for 30 minutes. Celebrate the decision that you knew you needed time to rest and recognize how easy it is to get lost in social media and lose track of time. It’s designed to pull us in, so setting the alarm was awesome because it gave you rest, AND you get to pack some boxes.
Celebrating yourself takes practice, especially if your inner critic is quite loud. So if you start small, you get the same benefits without feeling like you’re climbing over a tremendous obstacle. Our brains love to put things into categories to save energy. The number one function of our brain is to keep us safe and alive. The second function is to save energy so that if we need to act to keep ourselves safe and active, we have enough stamina. So, to save energy, our brain combines experiences, thoughts, and feelings. We can use this to our advantage by practicing small celebrations, and our brain will file it away the same way it does a big celebration.
Begin by making a list of the ways you can celebrate. What pleasurable activities would you choose to make yourself feel good on a bad day? Then, you can select those same activities to celebrate a good day. So answer the following questions.
My favorite beverage:
My favorite compliment:
My favorite way to rest:
My favorite song:
The challenge I have for you is to choose one decision you made today and celebrate it.
It can be any decision:
only hitting snooze 1x,
follow the GPS or go rogue and take your own route,
pants instead of a skirt,
drink an extra glass of water.
You this script:
I’m thankful I can make decisions that are right for me. The decision of ________________ is worth celebrating. So I’m going to celebrate by _____________.
I’m thrilled that you have begun your journey of replacing self-doubt with self-trust. If you do this daily, it will become a habit. Your inner critic might challenge this by calling it cheesy, unnecessary, or self-indulgent. Please do not take what your inner critic says as facts. Celebrating your decisions is what happens when you love yourself and live your life beautifully.
What would you say if I told you that spending 5 minutes per day supporting your mental wellness could improve your gut health? And 5 minutes per day helping your gut health could improve your mental health?
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