Why is giving credit to ourselves so important?
You’re about to leave the house but you notice you don’t have your keys.
You start scanning your room, specifically for your keys, your eyes only registering objects made of metal or whatever fabric the keychain is made of.
There could literally be a bunch of weird stuff on the table (“what’s a mousetrap doing here?” “why do we have currency of a political unit that doesn’t exist anymore lying around?” “this looks like a ransom note…”) but nothing else gets noticed. It’s all about the damn keys now.
I think this is the energy and intentionality with which we should look at 2020, but instead of our keys, we should place our achievements at the centre.
“Achievement” might be too big of a word. Too arrogant, too grandiose. Like a keychain, an achievement can be rather small and completely unimpressive.
Think ‘a small victory that doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else but you’.
Maybe you’ve learned how to cook something new this year?
Discovered new authors?
Found weird yet enjoyable ways to exercise?
Reconnected with an old friend?
Made your parents happy by checking on them?
Made yourself happy by reassessing some of your relationships?
Didn’t cry as much as you could have?
Allowed yourself to cry and “let it all out”?
Discovered new parks?
Made a meal for your housemates?
Thanked a housemate for a meal?
Thought of new places you wanna visit once you can?
Refrained from potentially irresponsible travel?
Travelled irresponsibly but didn’t deny it was irresponsible?
Signed a petition?
Marched with the protestors?
Had an uncomfortable conversation?
Realised how comfortable all of your conversations have been?
Supported your community?
Supported the people who supported your community?
Juggled work, family life, and studies?
Dropped one of them?
Stayed relatively sane?
Enjoyed a crazy insanity ride?
Whatever it is, well done. However you’ve arrived at the end of 2020 (bruised, bored, broken-hearted, in grief, or in strange sweatpants), you’ve made it.
But I’d say, don’t let go of 2020 just yet. Own the year and give yourself some credit for it.
Evolutionarily, our brains are wired to pay attention to negative experiences better than positive ones (it has helped us to survive, so it’s not as horrible as it sounds).
But precisely because of this tendency of our brain, giving ourselves credit for seemingly small things is, in fact, a big deal. Neuroscientists tell us it helps with our resilience and our overall sense of contentment.
More resilience and contentment, you say? Yes, please, sign me up.
Yet I think, just like with many things in life, the gap between knowledge and action can seem like a huge crevasse (maybe even more so in 2020). Knowledge: giving yourself credit is good for you. Action: giving yourself that credit.
So just freakin’ do it. I believe what’s on the other side of that crevasse is not arrogance of “Look how well I did in 2020!” but gratitude, self-compassion, and, who knows, maybe this is where we also find some hope that we could surely use in 2021.
Once again, I don’t think we need that much – or something tangible – to give ourselves that credit. I think it’s not just about what we did in 2020, but how we felt, how we showed up for others, how we showed up for ourselves, what we let go of or reassessed.
Functioning while clinically depressed.
Checking on people while not necessarily feeling wonderful, either.
Keeping your kindness. Keeping your kindness tight.
These are all so credit-worthy.
Give yourself a pat on the back, my friends, or accept my weird virtual pat then.
You don’t want it, you say? Too late! It’s there, it’s already happening like an unwanted hug that, if kept for long enough, will result in an oxytocin release.
Cheers to having been on this crazy ride together this year. I guess we’re always on the same ride but man oh man this was a bumpy one.