#92 Be a Cheerleader

It’s possible to be a cheerleader without going overboard and puffing someone up unrealistically.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#92

Be A Cheerleader

I’ve written about mentoring, appreciation, and friendship and in each case, there is potential for this suggestion – to be a cheerleader. Of course, I don’t mean the high school sports variety. By cheerleader, I mean someone whose focus is championing for another, directly encouraging and supporting.

We all need someone in our corner cheering for us – egging us on for a win – for success. Cheerleaders don’t criticize or correct, they inspire, urge, celebrate and rejoice in each little maneuver that delivers someone closer to the goal.

Pure Cheering

For some people this comes really easy – we all know one … that person (often a Grandmother) who encourages you no matter what – even if it’s not all that great of an idea or goal. And then there’s the rest of us (often parents) who who say “that’s good, but…”. A true cheerleader eliminates the “but”. A cheerleader leaves their personal opinion out of the equation. Unless someone is headed in a direction of self harm or violence – they are pure support.

Value of Cheerleading

While there has been a lot of controversy in recent years of building people up – sometimes without merit, it’s an important element of developing and sustained self-esteem. It feels good to know that someone is ‘on our side’ and that there is a person ‘has our back’ no matter what. Trust is established in this manner as well as confidence. Yes, it’s true that blowing smoke at people isn’t helpful because the real world doesn’t always ‘cheerlead’ for us. It’s all in the delivery!

Honest Cheering

It’s possible to be a cheerleader without going overboard and puffing someone up unrealistically. Instead of saying “you were great!” (if they really weren’t)… say “Your effort was amazing!” or “You’ll get it next time.”  Instead of claiming that a negative isn’t present at all… focus on the positives. Instead of buying into the disappointment that a ‘big’ thing that didn’t happen – celebrate all the small victories.

I’m sure there is someone in your life that can benefit from your decision to…

Be a cheerleader.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#134 Believe in Yourself

When we say “I can’t” – most of the time we are saying that we don’t want to do the work required in order to become successful.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#134

Believe in Yourself

As a therapist, I see lots of people who are challenged with this ability. When our self-esteem is damaged or underdeveloped, it can be quite difficult to have faith in your ability to achieve success. I’d like to suggest that success is relative and that the only person whose opinion matters – is yours!

Self-Doubt

Our self-doubt is often a seed that was planted in childhood either by parents, peers, or society. I’ve heard children make the comment “I’m trying” and an adult in the vicinity says “no you’re not” or “not hard enough” which, is hard to reconcile if you feel as if you’ve given it all you know to give. Unfortunately, these patterns often continue into adulthood and become hard held beliefs that are challenging to reframe.

We Know

We, as individuals, intrinsically know if we have given it our all or not. We KNOW, regardless of what others comment – even as children, we know. What we have to do is believe that if we think we’ve given it everything there is to give – it was ENOUGH, regardless of whether or not it met an outside standard. If we gave it our all… there wasn’t any more to give and we need to learn to simply believe that as a fact.

Fear

When we don’t have an established belief in our ability to succeed, we become afraid of trying because our culture promotes a fear of failure. One thing is for sure – if you don’t try – you will not succeed so the first rule is to TRY. The second rule of thumb is to assess your willingness to work for the success you want. When we say “I can’t” – most of the time we are saying that we don’t want to do the work required in order to become successful.

Almost anyone with dexterity can learn to play the piano – this fact is illustrated by all of the young people who perform at recitals all over the world. It’s only those who diligently work at their craft that become proficient however. Somewhere along the line, those people believed in themselves.

Mantra

It’s the ‘Little Engine That Could’ mantra… “I think I can, I think I can…” that makes the difference and becomes an overall mental health – healthy perspective. If you don’t already, make an effort to grow your esteem and learn to …

Believe in yourself.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#181 Celebrate A Milestone

When you acknowledge and celebrate even your small accomplishments, you honor the work you put forth.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#181

Celebrate A Milestone

Yesterday, I crossed the threshold of a milestone that is meaningful to me. I’ve published a daily post for six entire months! When I started this task of compiling 365 thoughts/ideas/tips of how to live live better, I didn’t really give much consideration to the significance of the challenge to write every day for an entire year. Shortly after moving forward, I realized it was going to take some appreciable thought and perseverance. While I have another 182 days to go in order to accomplish the task as a whole, I feel rather accomplished at reaching this point; it’s more than I’ve ever done.

Life is filled with milestones

There are so many milestones in our lives that we leave unacknowledged or downplay… what about that first time you finish a 5K? Or the time that you were offered a salary you had reached for? What about the savings goal you worked hard to accomplish? Those things are beyond the new promotion, the new house, marriage, middle age, and retirement but definitely worth celebrating!

Honor Yourself

When you acknowledge and celebrate even your small accomplishments, you honor the work you put forth. You’re taking a moment to recognize the part of you that benefits from praise and appreciation. It’s an audible “I did it” and an unceremonious “yay for me” that is deserved. Why not? It’s important to learn how to validate oneself – not in the pursuit of conceit or zealous pride – just an appreciative sense of accomplishment.

Celebrate

So today, I invite you to self-congratulate – if even for a moment – for something significant that you’ve accomplished recently. What major goal have you surpassed? What challenge have you conquered for the first time? What golden ring have you grabbed? Think carefully, pour a glass of wine, pop open a beer (unless you are celebrating a recovery milestone!), or grab a chocolate chip cookie and…

Celebrate a milestone!

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

No Such Thing As Perfect

…the intellectual side of me knew there was no such thing as ‘perfect’ but… that never stopped me from attempting to achieve perfection.

Continued from Penetrated Composure

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  ~ Anna Quindlen

We got through the holidays and it was time to take the Disney Cruise that the girls and I had been planning for the last year. It would be the first true vacation for us as a divided family. Hubby was up early that morning to say goodbye to the girls and helped us load the suitcases into the car. He was being gallant and I suppose, a bit melancholy about the fact that we were embarking on such a fanciful adventure without him. I started the car as he buckled Emily’s seatbelt and I heard him pronounce, “I love you all” while he shut the door firmly.

I shook my head because it was a frequent comment and yet, I didn’t relate to being ‘loved’ in the ways that he demonstrated. There were still a number of discussions about whether I really ‘wanted’ a divorce, if I ‘wanted’ to split up our family, or if I really ‘wanted’ to throw away all that we had built. Each conversation left me a little drained and sometimes questioning my decisions but when it came down to the end – every.single.time. – I knew that I had spent too many years living in a relationship that was not respectful. I knew that I was different, stronger, more aware and convicted about the direction I wanted to grow now.

The girls and I flew to Orlando, took a bus to Cape Canaveral, and boarded one of the Disney Cruise ships. None of us had ‘cruised’ before so we were all equally enamored with the glitz and grandeur of the ship, the view from the upper decks, and our stateroom with towels folded into swans. There’s something truly spectacular about the way Disney does things and we didn’t know what to do first. It was a week of ‘marveling’. We marveled at our meals, at the shows, at the activities, at the Caribbean port calls, and at the fireworks display over an open ocean as the light lit an infinite expanse of waves. The girls had each joined the Disney clubhouse for their appropriate age group and so I had a fair amount of quiet time, reflecting time. I used much of it to fortify myself as I meditated and wrote some of my thoughts. I was certain that my life was moving in the right direction and knew that I needed to organize a plan. I work better when I have a blueprint – an idea of what’s next. I like to think that I am flexible enough to allow for change but after everything I’d been through, controlling for emotional discourse was my new ‘normal’ and so I set out to consider what it was ‘exactly’ that I wanted my life to look like.

The cruise came to an end far too soon but we were refreshed and ready to go back to school. I had missed the first week of classes which I didn’t think would make much of a difference but when I walked into my French II class and tried to introduce myself to the professor, I knew I was in trouble. He spoke about as much English as I did French and told me I had an assignment due in the morning. Oh boy. It was the first and last time that I cheated. I had to write a paragraph – in French – about what foods I needed to buy at a grocery store for a recipe that I had chosen. I hadn’t yet learned the ‘food’ vocabulary that was needed for this assignment and so I typed it out in English and used a translator to convert it to French. I turned it in on time but when it came back, there was a distinct, English F at the top of the paper. I immediately knew it was going to be a long semester.

Learning French became my new passion; I had never received a failing grade before and I wasn’t going to let it happen again. It was during this time that I became acutely aware of my propensity for perfection. It was something that others had commented on in the past and of course, the intellectual side of me knew there was no such thing as ‘perfect’ but… that never stopped me from attempting to achieve perfection. It was a personal challenge.

And then I discovered the term ‘unrelenting standards’ – a schema of maladaptive coping styles proposed by psychologist Jeffery Young… essentially validating the existence of perfectionism within me. I never cared whether someone else was ‘perfect’ but I can admit to believing that there was ‘a’ way that things ‘should’ be done which established an expectation. Most often, that expectation was applied only to myself and yet – when someone like me is part of your environment, there is often a perception that my ‘standard’ is required by everyone in the circle…

I had a friend who gently and kindly reminded me constantly that perfect didn’t exist and that I may have to be “ok” with an A- or B+, or to give myself a break if I was frustrated with the lack of time to be all things to all people. In addition, through one of my psychology classes, I understood finally that ‘should’s’ were not all that healthy… we often don’t stop to think where our should’s come from and frequently, they are handed down from old family customs that don’t apply because of newer technologies; from society and social constructs that no longer exist; or from dysfunctional learning patterns we adapted to survive as children. Louise Hay, the author of You Can Heal Your Life, aptly suggests replacing the word ‘could’ with any should that is in your vocabulary. In doing so, you are empowering yourself with action instead of moving in a direction that may be dictated by some external – uninformed – place. I share this advice with clients on a regular basis and there is always an ‘ah ha’ moment as they consider where should’s exist in their life that may not need to be there.

I wasn’t sure why I thought I ‘should’ get all A’s… Undoubtedly, I wanted to set an example for my daughters who were students and had several years yet in front of them. In addition, I knew that for people to take me seriously as a middle-aged woman, it would be helpful if there was some ‘evidence’ substantiating my efforts, but mostly… I wanted to know that I could do it. I was proving something to myself as much as anyone else. I wasn’t always convinced that I was smart or capable. I did things that had required intelligence but, I never had a good measure of how strong it was. As a college student, I was under the impression that my grades were a good indicator.

To further impress upon me that total excellence was essentially unachievable, I questioned one of my professors who continued to give me a 99% on the weekly reflections we were required to do. “What do I need to do to get 100%”, I would ask “there are no markups to tell me what was missing”.  “That’s as good as it gets” he replied. “Perfect doesn’t exist.” He went on to tell me that if I wanted to be a good therapist, I needed to adjust to the idea that I would never get there – and “get comfortable with imperfection” he encouraged. It wasn’t a concept that I easily adapted.

Most days, if I was busy with schoolwork or taxiing the girls from one place to another, life was good. As long as Hubby and/or Abee weren’t front and center, my life and emotions were manageable. I was getting through the days and weeks with less and less discord as time went by. One evening in early March, the phone rang and my Aunt was on the other end regretting to inform me that Grandmom had passed away. She was eighty-seven and had congestive heart failure so it had only been a matter of time but… she had been unable to reach mom – who… was in Cabo San Lucas visiting a cousin. It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime as that cousin had mega bucks and was treating mom to yachts and mansions.

Life was about to get serious again.

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