Gratitude is a wonderful thing. Gratitude for our blessings, gratitude for our learnings and gratitude for our livings.
After my blog post a while ago on attitude, I feel it’s important to write again, to address some of the comments and conversations that have arisen from it. It seems that a number of people are quick to let ‘life gratitude’ slip into the dangerous territory of the ‘we are not worthy’ complex.
Thankful? Yes. Absolutely. And grateful to have the opportunity to be living how we are living and doing what we are doing. But we should also be proud of our own achievement in having the wherewithal to get there in the first place.
I worked hard to get my role at Shazam and continue to work hard every day to keep it. Sure, it’s an amazing role and I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to have such a role. But I also know I earn every moment through hard work, dedication and passion.
Sounds simple right? And it should be. So then why, time and time again are we our own biggest critics? Why do we jump so quickly to feelings of guilt or worry about what we’ve done in a situation? Why are we so damn hard on ourselves?
And I say this as someone who has been there, and someone who fights to not be so hard on myself every day. I have always found it easy to view others with a full heart, and be loving and forgiving – but when it comes to me, that battle has been much harder fought.
I shared a conversation with a friend recently and she confirmed the same thing. She is her own biggest critic, thinks of herself badly, speaks to herself badly, disregards her incredible successes… You get the drift.
So how do we start to fight it?
By changing our perspective. I can’t take credit for inventing this concept; it’s nothing new. But it really is effective.
Imagine you have an invisible twin (or someone you love very deeply), and imagine that person speaking the words you that you say to/about yourself about themselves.
What would you say to them?
For me, I know instinctively that I wouldn’t/won’t/don’t allow a person that I love dearly to speak badly about themselves. I carefully point out their awesomeness to them, show them how they did their best (as long as they did) and I make sure that they feel good about their part in the situation, even if just from learnings.
Ultimately that’s what uncomfortable situations result in in most cases; incredible learnings, usually ones that we can grow tremendously from.
I then needed to learn to apply the same principle in my conversations with me.
Learning this technique really changed everything for me. If I am to truly love me, I need to hold myself up in the same way I would my loved ones. I need to show myself love, even when on some levels I might think I don’t think I deserve it. It took a bit of time to re-programme my reaction to things, but once I did, the results really were quite amazing.
That doesn’t mean the self-criticism disappears, by the way; it just means that I am better able to rationalise it when it does rear its ugly head, and quickly turn the scenario into a learning in some way. I am allowing my rational voice to become louder; I find simple gentle breath meditation also helps with this.
What I have learnt is: whatever you think you have done/not done that is so terrible – I can almost guarantee that the world won’t end because of it. Ask yourself in that moment, have I done the best that I can do in this situation, with all I have? The answer will probably be yes.
But whether the answer to that question is yes or no, simply resolve to learn the lesson (whatever it might be) moving forward. If you feel you didn’t, then ‘stick a pin in it’. What I mean is: acknowledge the feeling, and then ‘pin’ it to an invisible notice board in your mind.
It’s important to ‘clock’ things and learn from them, but even more so that we don’t dwell on them – remembering the feeling will become your learning moving forward. The next time such a scenario presents itself, whether the answer is yes or no again, there should be no judgement. Only learning.
That’s what I’m working on now.
Recently someone presented me with another great tool for celebrating your successes: to write a letter to your younger self. Take it as an opportunity to celebrate your awesomeness and reflect on how far you have come. Also use it as a chance to remember where you have come from and remember all those awesome people you have met and been inspired by along the way. This kind of exercise can also help you track back, connect to the younger version of you, complete with hopes and dreams, and help you keep propelling yourself forward. The article my friend shared with me is here.
After all that you should emerge loving, kind and thankful. To yourself as much as to everyone else.
We all have the power positively impact the world around us when we let our light shine as brightly as it’s truly meant to, so let’s do it.