We never said that recovery from abuse was easy. In fact we quite often comment on the fact that it is really really hard. It is a long journey, and one where we can feel impatient about our own progress. I know, because I have been there. Those days where you lament that you will be a victim all your days (because let’s face it, on those days you call yourself a victim instead of a survivor).
Acknowledge Your Progress
The frustration we feel with our “lack of progress” is because we are not yet where we want to be. We feel we should have moved faster, or reached further. When we think like that, we do ourselves a huge disfavor. Firstly because healing goals are not S.M.A.R.T. goals, especially that T is impossible. We cannot add a time frame to our healing.
The second disfavor is that, by beating ourselves up about not meeting our goals yet, we do not acknowledge the progress we have already made.
Just showing up every day and continuing our healing journey, even when it is hard, even when it takes long, even when we are retraumatized, even when we remember some new thing that we had repressed.
That is why you should be celebrating your success!
It’s not the size of the celebration that counts, what’s important is acknowledging that you are growing and creating your best life
(from: Why You Should Always Acknowledge Achievements, by Marquita Herald).
Increase Positive Emotions
Marquita is right about that, it is not the size of the celebration. As I discussed in the podcast on financial abuse, the simple act of paying my bills sends me into a state of panic and anxiety. My celebration is a high five, every time I overcome that panic and pay my bills. It is just one step on the road to recovery on these issues, but it helps me feel pride and confidence at this simple act of self-care (yes, getting your finances sorted counts as self-care too).
It is those positive emotions that are triggered by celebrating your success that are so important. We talk about the importance of positive emotions for your healing journey quite often. In ‘A Positive Mind is a Joy Forever‘ I explained how our mindset during positive emotions is much more open-minded. It makes it easier to think of solutions, make new connections, gain new insights. It gives us the right mindset to learn, grow and heal in other words.
In The Emotional Thermostat I shared a few ways that I keep a positive mind. Celebrating my success is another way in which I do that.
Build Your Healing Confidence
One challenge that survivors of abuse face, is building up their self-esteem and confidence. We have been stripped of every sense of self and accomplishment. Having confidence helps us face the world, it helps us learn to trust ourselves, it helps us continue on our healing journey.
On our forum I quite often refer our members to a specific affirmation exercise that we included in The Basics of Coping With Emotional Abuse. I particularly like this affirmation method, because it takes our accomplishments as the starting point for affirming our self-worth. As such it comes with the “evidence” we may need, build right into it.
Proving your achievements builds confidence (from Psychologies).
By using your achievements as a starting point, you are essentially celebrating your success in those areas. It is an exercise I try to repeat regularly. I stick my results on a note on the white board next to my desk. That way I get to celebrate my own strength a little every day.
If you feel unsure about listing your achievements. just start off small. If you are in a dark place, maybe just getting up and into the shower before noon every day is something that you are proud of. Or perhaps it is cancelling a party invitation in order to prioritize self-care. It can be anything and everything that you did that made you feel proud of – or at least better about – yourself.
I promise that once you start looking for small achievements, you will begin to see them more and more. Before you know it, you will be able to see your big achievements too.
The Drive To Improve Is Great
It has been a few years since I cut contact and started on my healing journey. I don’t feel so utterly broken anymore, I have come such a long way. I continue to strive to learn and improve though. I think that is a good thing, and it makes for a life worth living. Having that drive, and setting myself goals is great. It also makes it potentially more important still to celebrate my success too.
While it feels wonderfully productive to set goals with the aim of bettering yourself, it is equally uplifting to celebrate the things in your life in which you have already found success
(from: It’s Time to STOP and CELEBRATE Your ACCOMPLISHMENTS
by David Riklan and Sam Etkin).
For me, remembering where I am coming from is so important. It makes me feel so proud of myself. It shows my strength, and allows me to meet new challenges head on. It gives me trust that the future will be okay, and that takes a lot of anxiety out of my day.
Without that anxiety I am able to enjoy my days, enjoy the little things that bring a smile to my lips.
How I Celebrate, and How You Could Be Celebrating Your Success
Have I convinced you of the importance of celebrating your success? I hope I have. In case you need some “how to” inspiration, here are some of the big and small ways I celebrate my success.
1. I High Five (a lot).
The perfect way to celebrate the small victories.
I was tired and I still cooked dinner from scratch! High Five!
I paid that bill, on time! High Five!
2. I Commemorate Important Dates
There are certain days that mark important victories, like Freedom Day – the day I cut contact.
3. I Allow Myself Rest
Part of my celebration is just allowing myself to rest. I don’t run right into the next challenge.
I worked hard this week, and cleared my to do list – time for a glass of wine and a nice movie.
I have done so much soul searching of late, time for a day of pampering.