What Am I Doing Right?
This is a question many of us do not ask ourselves often enough.
If you are like me, you probably tend to focus on problems, because after all, those are what need to be solved, right?
The danger there however, comes in that if you are always focusing on problems (ie negatives) then that could lead you into a negative mindset. You can lose perspective on what you’ve actually accomplished because there’s always a next thing to do.
There is always something to fix. Always adjustments and improvements that can be made. We don’t stop nearly often enough to give ourselves credit.
Recently while battling a stronger bout of depression, I had a mini-epiphany. I was having a hard time seeing positives. Not much was going how I wanted it to. Some of my needs were not being met. Something that was unfortunately largely out of my control. And I got really hung up on that.
So I made a note to myself to start a daily practice and answer the question ‘what am I doing RIGHT?’
In other words, what things can I give myself credit for, even if just for today. Going for a walk, eating some vegetables, taking a nap if I needed it, setting a boundary with someone or even myself (like X amount of screen time per day)…
I will admit I have not put this idea into daily practice, but each time I do something positive for myself, I mentally acknowledge it.
Being Clear About My Wants And Needs
I can’t have everything I want, and maybe can’t get all my needs met. But at least if I know what they are I stand a lot better chance of getting some of what I want and some needs met.
And when I can identify which needs aren’t being met, I can strategize ways to improve that. During a global pandemic and surge in cases, a lot of my needs can’t be met the same way, so I improvise and compromise.
Acknowledging My Limitations
This may sound self defeating but hear me out. What I mean by this is acknowledging — for example — that during winter time I have a much harder time with self-discipline when it comes to food.
I don’t typically enjoy cooking at the best of times, let alone at the coldest, darkest time of the year. So I forgive myself from December to March (roughly) for eating less healthy, and just getting through. I know once the weather warms up again, my eating habits will improve.
I also acknowledge that staying active is a lot harder for me in the winter. I don’t beat myself up that I haven’t ridden my bike in a month (normally I would ride every day). There are a lot more barriers to doing the activity and my motivation is lower than normal this time of year.
I’ve gotten into a baseline regimen of daily home exercises. This includes jumping jacks, squats, planks, and using a yoga ball chair. On days that weather permits I go for a quick jog around the block. It’s not perfect, and it’s not as much as I want to do, but it’s certainly better than nothing!
Making Time For Pleasure
Whether that’s playing video games, or making art, doing a virtual call with a friend, or watching a movie. Again, these are the hard months, we’re in a semi-lockdown (where I am) and we’re only half way through winter. Do what you have to do.
Acknowledging My Own Growth And Successes
I have very high standards for myself which contributes to a feeling like no matter how much I do, it never feels good enough.
I’ve had to slow down a lot over the last few months, but slowing down has paid off. I haven’t been burnt out in at least a couple of months which is a record! Normally I would be in and out of burnout every couple of weeks.
But it has also meant I’ve accomplished less, which feels like a failure. So I have to change my point of view.
I have also gotten better at applying CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to myself. Catching negative thought patterns and shutting them down or diverting them more quickly. Defusing negative self talk or unfair comparisons to others.
Appreciating The Little Things
I make art when I want to and have the energy/time to. I know it’s okay if I don’t make any new art on a given day. I talk to my roommate or other friends when they feels up for it, and when they don’t, I try to just occupy myself otherwise.
So, if you’re an over-achieving high standards workaholic like me, here is my advice. This time of year probably makes you feel completely sucktastic for the low momentum, low motivation, low accomplishment slog that it is.
Start a journal, or a notes file on your computer or phone, or even just record voice memos. Document at least one thing each day that you did that wasn’t perfect, but was good enough. Give yourself credit for wins, even small ones.
Then, when you’re feeling your most sucktastic, review your logs and remind yourself you’re still doing things, and before long winter will be over and you can go back to thriving again.