Somewhere along the path to adulthood, we tend to lose that clarity and willingness to see ourselves in all of our gloriousness. It tends to happen more to women than to men, although some men would debate this! How does that happen? When do we lose our joyfulness and the focus on celebrating?
Remember when we were kids and we could so easily say “I did it! Look at me!” We could acknowledge our wins loudly and clearly. Somewhere along the path to adulthood, we tend to lose that clarity and willingness to see ourselves in all of our gloriousness. It tends to happen more to women than to men, although some men would debate this! How does that happen? When do we lose our joyfulness and the focus on celebrating?
Women in particular have struggled to overcome the strict and traditional gender roles imposed by society. And although we have many more options than our grandmothers had, particularly in the U.S., we still struggle with believing in ourselves. Research has shown that this “gender confidence gap” is real as women tend to underestimate their abilities and performance. There are many external factors involved in this as well very entrenched male focused mindsets that are barriers to women. In addition, the scarcity of women mentors also adds to the struggle. Changing mindsets takes time and patience, yet that is the path: other women who have broken the glass ceiling to continue to help younger women believe that the climb is possible and worthwhile.
Celebrating our wins and our losses, including the small ones, is one way to pivot our mindset to the possible. Celebrations are opportunities to boost our self-confidence. The wins give us direct evidence of our talents and abilities. The losses can give us wisdom and lessons learned in order to do better next time. Shining a light on your abilities does not mean bragging. It means allowing yourself to enjoy the talents you were born with, and the talents you have acquired along the way. Positive thinking about yourself allows your brain to create the pathways to strengthen your beliefs.
Here are some tips to learning how to celebrate yourself:
Practice makes progress, not perfect. Women tend to set their bars very high, sometimes unreasonably high, and then judge themselves mercilessly for any deviation from them. What tends to hold us back is our perception of our abilities, not our actual ability.
Replace “should” with “could.” Shoulds are the foundation for guilt and guilt can drain the joy out of your life. Using could can allow you some breathing room to include what you truly want to do and say.
Befriend your internal critic (Susan Brady: Mastering Your Inner Critic). Recognizing that it exists as part of your instinct for self-preservation can help you to tame its frequency, intensity and duration. Some feedback helps us avoid the potholes in the sidewalk. Too much negative feedback paralyzes us!
Embrace your individuality. Male ideas of power, confidence and mastery are not the only way to be respected and gain the support you deserve. Being You, in all your glorious ways, will come across more genuinely.
Celebrate other women. We have been a part of a competitive and individualistic society, yet men have known how to encourage, help and raise other men up, i.e. “old boys networks, men’s club, etc.” Women have competed against each other instead of with the outside world. This scarcity mentality, that there is not enough success for all women, continues to keep women sidelined. The benefits to encouraging diversity in thoughts and actions, and celebrating differences are huge.
The more you believe in your Self, the clearer your path can become. When you can acknowledge and celebrate your progress, even the small wins, you can change your Internal Critic and broaden your perspective about your Self. That leads to a more compassionate and energized Self. Simultaneously, encouraging other women to dream, championing their success and singing their praises. That is how change happens.