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How we can celebrate our small wins to achieve big goals

When it comes to achieving goals, sometimes it can seem as if we just aren’t making any progress or it feels like a really slow, long slog. There could be a number of factors that contribute towards this. For one, society throws us very conflicting messages. We are expected from an early age to do well, to try to win and get the best results, but we are also not supposed to be too joyous about our achievements. It’s very frowned upon to say that we’re good at something or to talk about our achievements, as we are then accused of bragging or being big-headed. We’re praised for being humble or by down-playing our accomplishments, especially in the UK, it’s a very British thing. If we then do achieve something, we are usually asked what’s the next thing we’re doing, so the pressure to move on and keep doing better becomes the norm.

There are several downsides to this, firstly, if we don’t win but we’ve had a great personal best, it’s usually dismissed and we end up feeling very devalued. Secondly, if we need some encouragement or validation from others in order for anything to have value, then we’ve stepped into precarious territory, as we might not get it. If we get no recognition, then it’s easy to feel invisible or of low worth.

How can we start to make a change?

When we are trying to make changes in any area of our lives, then we have to look at it as a process. Hardly anything just changes overnight, most things take work and will progress in stages. If we can’t put any value on the first stages, then we also can’t build on those stages. Often these first steps are the most important, they are the foundation stones of what is yet to come. When everything seems overwhelming and it feels like a struggle, but we still manage to get one thing in the day done, even if we don’t finish it, it can be hard to put that in the positive pile. It’s more likely to get devalued by things we say to ourselves like, ‘it’s nothing’, ‘other people managed twenty things, I only did this’, ‘I’m never going to get anywhere if that’s all I can do’. This mindset makes it hard to try working on the same task the next day, as it seems of little or of no value. If however, we could do that one small task every day and we celebrate it, then at the end of the week say we can say, ‘I did that four times this week, maybe I can do it five times next week!’ We can then make progress. If we hold any progress as a positive, then it’s got a chance to develop or become the norm of what we can do. We can build on it. If we keep dismantling the first foundation steps, we won’t be able to build anything. We have to learn to celebrate small wins.

For example, if we were to train for a 10k run, we would never expect to do the whole thing in the first day. We will however, be pleased that we ran to the end of the road. We know it’s a process but we often don’t apply the same principles to other things.

It’s much easier for us to look at what we can’t do and end up feeling less-than. In the last two years, we have had much less at our disposal to make us feel good and uplift us. It becomes very hard to value the little things when we have lost so many of the big things. However, this gives us a great opportunity to start from a foundation level. We can find things that we value and make a point of praising them, giving them the value they deserve. Whether that’s the plants you have grown, the lunch you have prepared, or just that you got showered today. No matter what it is, practice giving it value, celebrate all your small wins. If the inner-gremlins show up to minimise or devalue what you’re doing, then remind yourself of the good qualities, make it important. It’s surprising how differently we can feel about the small things. It’s similar to the idea of having gratitude, it makes us look at things in a positive way rather than a negative way.

We also have to be able to do this for ourselves, as it’s unlikely to come from others. If we are dependant on validation externally, then it can be taken away just as readily as it’s been given. When we hold it ourselves, then no-one can take it away from us because our value is solid, we know why we value the little things. If we can start to do this for the small things, then it naturally becomes easier to value the big things without the fear of ridicule, or fear of being made to feel vulnerable because of what others might say. Celebrating our small wins enables us to achieve our big goals.

All of this is a process and it takes work, but it’s a journey that is well worth doing. It’s something we can all do without much at our disposal.

A girl on the beach at sunset, deep in her thoughts Featured

How to stop negative thoughts

Since I began my own experiment with working on my own judgments and negative thoughts, it’s opened up all kinds of things for me. My first task was to really check out in my daily life, how judgmental I was towards others and to myself. My next task was to then observe a judgmental thought came up when it came up, and question what it was about, what I was basing it on and where it had come from. It was such a revealing and freeing experiment as I realised the judgments and negativity I had about certain things were very limiting and not conducive to curiosity at all. I realised a dismissive judgment about something would shut the door on that subject and not let me wonder about it, so I payed special attention to those things.

Just talking about my journey with judgmental and negative thoughts again feels quite vulnerable and exposing, it’s good to acknowledge that. If I wonder about that, then I see that I am assuming a judgment from others that as a psychotherapist I should be judgment free, therefore I shouldn’t be exposing this side of myself. That’s also shutting another door and would mean me pretending that I’m not like every other human on the planet, so instead I’m putting this out there to widen my own curiosity and others.

How our judgements have impacted us

The vastness of what we don’t know is mind-blowing. Everything from the brain, to the body, to the cosmos, the universe, quantum physics, spirituality and so much more. My sense of the world right now is that it is becoming more polarised, and for a lot of things we’re being asked to pick a side, one being right and one being wrong, then we are defending those positions. If, as a species, we could learn to be less set in our beliefs and judgments and be more open to hearing others beliefs. We could allow ourselves to learn things that could be so eye opening, that in turn there would be less disagreements.

If we hold any negative judgments about the way we look, it’s because we have believed other peoples views or opinions about the way we should look, we’ve held onto that and chased that ideal. This makes acceptance very difficult and if we hold those judgements about ourselves, then most likely we’ll hold them about other people too. The same goes for intelligence, the type of job we do, our relationship status and where we live, etc. Just being able to catch a negative thought or judgment about something or someone can really begin to change those set beliefs.

If we are having a conversation with someone and we hear something we strongly disagree with, then we stop listening to what’s being said and just wait for the opportunity to say our bit. We all do it and we have all had it done to us. We can begin to change the way we do things by starting to observe ourselves and be more mindful about what we do or say next.

How addressing our negative thoughts can make a real change

My curiosity and observation of myself has allowed me to look at all kinds of things in more detail, from astrology, astronomy, religion, biology and energy, etc. It’s also made me much more friendly and sociable, as I now want to chat to people more and be curious about them. I’ve learnt loads about my surrounding area and things that are going on, just from speaking to people as I go for a walk along the river during the day.

As a being, we are made up of a small amount of matter. Each cell in our body is mostly a liquid jelly substance, water and energy are mostly what we are made up of. It makes so much sense to then start to pay attention to our energy and positive vibrations. If we are being judgmental, we are then being negative and that emits a flat, dull energy. When we are open, curious and enthusiastic, it means we are vibrating at a much higher frequency. This is not only felt by us, but by everyone around us.

We need to learn to be more open, there is so much we don’t know. The universe is made up of so much dark matter, which we know so little about right now, we are still learning. The connection to ourselves, leads to better connections with others and the whole world around us. We should be prepared to be amazed, not stay in the trenches of what we think we know, and stay in our cycles of negative thoughts. Raising our consciousness means we can be open to learning and having new experiences. I’m aware this is a very big journey, but I’m up for starting it and I’m excited about what comes next.

To read about the beginning of my journey with judgemental and negative thoughts, click here. If you’d like to start your own journey of exploring your judgemental thoughts, to learn how to begin observing, we created a resource to help you. Our Body Work Course, will take you through step-by-step, so you can begin to learn so much more about you and your body, you can find the course here.