Last week, I wrote on article on the value of focusing on and sharing about your successes and celebrations because what we know about energy and our neurobiology is that what we focus on grows.  So I was experimenting with taking my own advice and had shared with several folks how proud I was that this week was my private practice’s fullest week!  Over the course of the next few days, several folks cancelled, which happens pretty regularly. But what I didn’t expect was the creeping in of a sense of shame…a sense not being good enough.

So I started to get curious about my experience.  Why was I feeling shame? Logically, I knew that it’s normal for clients to cancel but emotionally I felt like the wind was knocked out of my sails.  I thought back to the story I wrote about from grade school where I stopped celebrating my successes and remembered another aspect of this story–shame.  My self-worth was intricately connected to my successes and to how others’ perceived me.  When I made a good grade, I felt smart enough and when I didn’t, I didn’t.  When friends’ liked me, I felt likable and when they didn’t, I didn’t (of course, I tried my best to make sure the latter never happened!)  When I felt this tinge of shame related to client cancellations, I realized how often I still link the two together–my good-enough-ness with my ‘success’ and with others’ perception of me.

The thing with this is that there will always be ups and downs with success and people will always have feedback and some people won’t like you, but you don’t want this to affect how you feel about yourself and more importantly, you don’t want this to affect your willingness to be your AMAZING self!  It feels great to get positive feedback or to share an experience we are proud of, but this can be a slippery slope when we start equating our value with success and positive feedback.  How do we celebrate our successes without getting attached to them meaning something about who we are?  And how do we sit with the discomfort of receiving negative feedback or ‘failing’ without it rocking our sense of who we are?

Here are some ideas:

1)Know that you are worthy regardless of any external or internal circumstances.  When we are born, we are perfect, worthy, pure love and nothing can change that core part of us.

2)Write affirmations: I am good enough. It’s okay if people don’t like me. It’s important to speak my truth. Find one that feels right for you.

3)Practice mindfulness.  You can do this just by noticing your thoughts, feelings, sensations without judgement.  You can plan regular times each day or just pause when you have the opportunity, waiting in line or at a red light. I love the app for both guided and non-guided mindfulness practices.

4) Notice the judgmental thoughts as your inner critic (who is trying to protect you from any negative emotional experiences) and not the truth of who you are.

5)Know that feedback tells you more about others than it tells you about you.  Know that you are good enough regardless of others’ perception of or opinions about you.  Know that when feedback really resonates or is painful, it might point to a negative core belief we have about ourselves–let this be an opportunity to create a different core belief.

6)Know that when you have a success or celebration, it’s because your effort is paying off not because you are worthy or good enough.  Know that ‘success’ and ‘failures’ are just stories, meaning we attach to experiences.

8)Notice when you judge yourself or parts of you as good or bad. Practice accepting and feeling compassion for all parts of yourself.  Get curious!

Let’s choose to celebrate our successes but be careful not to equate our success with our self-worth.

Challenge: Next time you celebrate a success, take a moment to notice what you did that led up to that success, let the celebration be a celebration of your hard work, deep listening, relationship-building, whatever it is that you did and let go of any attachment that your success had to who you are as a human being. Remind yourself that you are AMAZING with or without that success!

Affirmation: You are worthy of love and belonging.