If you read my story, you know I have a history with hating myself. I certainly don't hate myself now, but allowing myself to feel proud is still a challenge. The reason is two-fold:
1. Pride feels selfish. It requires filling up your self-love tank. It requires a certain amount of ego. It requires you to put yourself in the spotlight — even if it's only your mind's internal spotlight. You first. You.
2. Differentiating achievements from expectations is hard. Knowing when you are "supposed" to feel proud is not intuitive for me. There is a line between achievements and expectations, and I'm not sure where it is. For example, growing up I often had a perfect report card. That's an achievement, right? Well, maybe. But it happened semester after semester and it became an expectation. It wasn't celebrated. Should I have celebrated those pieces of paper? I'm still not sure. My natural tendency is to assume everything is an expectation, not an achievement.
Today, I am fucking proud of myself. My self-love tank is full. I achieved something that was not an expectation. Excuse me while I high-five myself.
I didn't get here quickly, but I've arrived on Pride Island. I finished the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Half Marathon. Not only did I finish, but I killed it. My average training pace for long runs (using my stop-and-smell-the-roses training method) was 11... 12... sometimes even 13 minutes per mile. I finished in 2:04, a 9:28 min/mile pace. What? Yeah, I did that.
Some people don't seem to struggle with having self-pride. They walk around and toot their own horn all day. Mayyyyybe they need to scale back a little bit. Or maybe not. They're happy with themselves — good for them. If you're on the opposite end of the spectrum like me and you hide your horn, here's what has worked for me. Dust off that horn and toot away!
Step 1: Recognize your challenge
When was the last time you felt proud of yourself? Two minutes ago? Great! You probably have a healthy amount of pride. Can't remember? That's OK, too. We just have to make a conscious effort to feel proud. But before you can make an effort you have to recognize that you need to.
Step 2: Recruit help
My closest friends and family know that I struggle to feel proud of myself. Especially my husband. After the half marathon, my friend kept telling me how proud of me she was on the car ride home. When I got home, my husband repeatedly — I mean repeatedly — told me how proud of me he was, trying to ignite my pride. Nobody can control how you feel except you, but when other people tell me they're proud of me it helps me make that distinguishment between achievement and expectation. Oh, they're proud of me. Maybe I should be proud, too. *Cue pride, please!*
Step 3: Fake it 'til you feel it
I'm a big fan of faking it. (And no, I'm not talking about the Big O.) Sometimes, this means looking in the mirror and saying, "You are so amazing, and I'm proud of you." If feels funny at first, because it feels like a lie. That and you're talking to yourself, which is kind of awkward I suppose. But the more you say it, the more you believe it.
Step 4: High-five yourself
The last step is allowing yourself to feel proud, and congratulating yourself. A dose of self-love is a good thing, especially if you struggle with confidence. This is kind of how my internal dialogue went:
Yeah... you know what, I did kick ass. I trained for weeks. I achieved my goal of enjoying training. I was healthy this time — not a single toxic ED thought entered my mind. My hip injury didn't get in my way. And I fucking killed it. A minute and a half below my average training pace? You go, girl!
Are these selfish thoughts? Maybe. But is that bad? No, I don't think so.
Step 5: The high-five that never ends
I'm not a psychologist or a self-help author. Someone smarter than me could probably tell you why this works... or perhaps they'd tell you why this doesn't work. I just know that it works for me, and maybe it could work for you, too.
When I'm feeling down on myself, I rekindle those feelings of pride. I close my eyes and take myself back to that moment I felt proud. For most, it would probably be when they crossed the finish line/nailed the presentation/achieved XYZ. For me, it's usually after that moment because I still have to play catch-up. (Hence, steps 1-4.)
In this case, it was in the kitchen. It was in the kitchen after my husband said, "Hey, you ran a half marathon today." I think he could tell my self-love tank wasn't full yet. That might have been "Pump Cara up" comment No. 10, but after trying to fake it until I felt it, it was just enough of a shove to give me that internal dialogue above.
You could be reading all this and thinking it's stupid. If you are, feeling proud probably comes easy to you, and I'm happy for you. But I'm guessing that I'm not the only person in the world who struggles to give themselves a high-five and celebrate their achievements.
Gradually, feeling proud of myself has become easier. I found a process that works for me. My hope is that it will continue to get easier until eventually that moment of pride will come when I cross the finish line — not in the kitchen hours later.
I'm confident that it will, with practice. But for now I am proud that I am able to feel proud. Is that a thing? I'm making it a thing. PROUD TO BE PROUD!