“When you say of anything that it is too good to be true, you are telling yourself a ghost story.” – Imelda Shanklin
For most of us, the hardest person to cheer for is one’s self. We might believe that it is selfish or conceited to say positive things about ourselves or the things we accomplish. We believe that there is virtue in diminishing our own accomplishments, perhaps even going so far as to treat them as if they were nothing at all. While this might look good in the movies, in real life we benefit from loving who we are and appreciating what we do.
I worked with a kindergarten student who did not speak much in class. When he arrived at the lunch group, the same thing was true. He said few words and when he did speak his words were often nonsensical. One day, another member of the group let me know that he only spoke to his older sister when he was at school. When I heard that bit of information I realized that he had a voice, he was simply choosing not to use it. From then on, I focused all of my attention on encouraging him to let it out.
Each lunch group session, I would let the boy know that I knew that he could speak and that I was looking forward to hearing his wonderful voice. I also insisted that he at least nod his head to answer questions when I asked them. Over time, he started using one-word and then three-word responses. Every effort he put forth was rewarded with praise and enthusiasm. Eventually, the dam broke and the young man started talking in full sentences, requesting help when needed, and engaging in conversations with his friends. I was amazed.
The key to success with this young man was praise. Every step in the direction of the goal was praised. We can apply this lesson in our own lives. We all have things that we wish to improve upon and goals that we wish to attain. Too often we do not appreciate our progress. We may experience a major success and then think that it is too good to be true. That inner voice might also tell us that it is good, but it will not likely happen again. This is the opposite of appreciating yourself.
To achieve real success, you must learn to applaud your own efforts. Find ways to celebrate life and your wonderful role in it. You can begin by simply diverting your efforts from thinking and speaking negatively about yourself. You can also make lists of all that you have accomplished today, which includes simply showing up. The gifts you bring to the world are helping others even when you are not aware, so heap on the praise.
One of the most amazing things about celebrating who you are is that you feel better. You feel the kind of inspiration that naturally inspires you to pass the praise on to others. As you recognize your own value, you automatically see the value in others. You also become more receptive to compliments that people give. When you openly receive praise from other people, they feel even better. All of this because you decided to start celebrating yourself.
It is time to celebrate yourself and everything you do for the world. This seemingly selfish act will awaken and give you access to more of your own gifts and talents. As you move through life with more joy, you will experience greater success and deeper satisfaction from everything you do. The more you practice, the better you feel. After a while, you will wonder why it took you so long to get the party started.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org