Think celebrating is only for big occasions? You’re doing yourself a disservice and the chance to build your resilience, feel stronger and experience more joy, comfort and hope.
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 59 The surprising benefits of everyday celebrations
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a coach and writer, and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to overcome your overwhelm so you can feel calm, confident and in control.
Welcome to episode 59. Before we get stuck in I have some news regarding The Calm Mind Club. It is closing to new members on 3 December and it won’t be open again until probably February next year. And when it does reopen to new members the price will be higher but anyone who becomes a member before 3 December will pay that lower price forever.
The Calm Mind Club is where you can overcome your overdoing, overthinking overwhelm with a supportive community, which is not on Facebook I’ll add. Each month we focus on a different topic, you get teaching, insight and support from me as well as guest experts, plus practical tools and techniques including written and recorded material, a resource library, plus free and discounted online courses. You get access to everything from previous months so there’s a lovely back catalogue building up. Everything is designed for you to take in when it suits you, there’s no pressure and there’s no trying to keep up.
This is far and away the most affordable way to access me, my courses and what I have to share so if you want to overcome your overwhelm so you can find calm and confidence with a supportive community, go to thecalmmindclub.com straight after this episode and join us.
Now, I talk a lot on this podcast about what you can do to feel less overwhelmed, to overthink less, to be kinder to yourself, to feel better. In this episode I want to talk about what to do when something goes well, when you’re having a good moment, so that you can really make the most of this flash of positivity. We have a tendency to skip over the good stuff and we’re doing ourselves a disservice because there are real, and perhaps surprising, benefits to celebrating.
Let me start by explaining what I mean by celebrating. We can think of a celebration as being something big, a milestone or a noteworthy achievement. So we celebrate birthdays, exam results, job promotions and weddings, perhaps by spending time, energy and money on presents, a party, a dinner or a trip.
When we celebrate these events we’re taking time to acknowledge a difficulty we’ve overcome, a milestone we’ve reached or the start of a new chapter in our lives. Before we move on we’re pausing in this moment to give thanks, to recognise what we’ve done, to share what’s important to us with others and to cement it firmly into our memories.
These are important and valuable occasions to celebrate but celebration doesn’t need to be limited to the big stuff in life. Something isn’t considered worthy of celebrating just because you can buy a greeting card for it. What we gain from celebrating these landmarks in our lives can also be felt in the smaller, perhaps more mundane instances.
So if we think about celebrating not in terms of big occasions but instead as a way of acknowledging a moment that feels good, that we’re proud of, where we overcame a challenge (however small), we will find moments throughout our days that are worthy of celebrating.
This doesn’t mean that we have to celebrate every teeny little banal thing in our day. We still need to be discerning or else the celebration will be hollow, it’ll have little meaning to us and we won’t reap the benefits that celebrating gives. But what it does mean is that we can allow ourselves to feel the joy, the sense of relief or achievement that we may have previously told ourselves we shouldn’t feel or that we skated straight on over in our haste to get on with what’s next.
We’ve all experienced that feeling of elation when we parallel parked between two cars on the first attempt or we finished a piece of work ahead of the deadline or we navigated our way through an unknown area without getting lost, and almost straight away we stop, tell ourselves we’re being ridiculous and brush that good feeling aside. It happens so quickly we barely compute what’s happening in our brains. That mean little voice in our heads shames us for being so pleased about something so seemingly insignificant so we cut short the happiness and sense of achievement with a metaphorical clip round the ear and a sharp word. Within seconds we’ve blown past what could have been a moment of beneficial celebration and we’re back on to striving forwards to what’s next.
When our inner critic pipes up it’s coming from a place of protection. It’s trying to stop us from the possibility of being hurt in some way. If it allows you to be so pleased that you parked so neatly that you tell someone else there’s the risk that the other person will laugh, roll their eyes or contradict your celebration in some way. And that could hurt so better to not go there.
Or if it lets you feel the boost in confidence that comes from navigating an unknown area you might be less cautious the next time you’re in a new place and get lost, which would stress you. So better to keep a lid on that good feeling.
When you celebrate you allow yourself to feel good in the present moment, you’ve not sprung forward into the future thinking about what’s yet to come or what you have to do next. You’re simply feeling joy in the here and now. And that can be unnerving because what if something goes wrong? What if what you’re feeling good about gets taken away? What if the next time you park you scrape a car? What if the project you handed in early is actually rubbish and your boss thinks you’re incompetent? What if you get lost on the way home?
And just like that you’re out of this present, joyful moment of celebration and you’ve leap frogged into the unknown future. We think, thanks to our inner critic, that we’re protecting ourselves from future hurt by curbing our joy in the present. I talk more about this foreboding joy in episode 45. But we’re not just stealing our own joy, we’re preventing ourselves from other benefits of celebrating too.
When we do something that we find difficult, that perhaps we’ve struggled with in the past, whether it’s parking a car, figuring out formulas on a spreadsheet, baking a soufflé or talking to strangers at a party, we’ve proven to ourselves that we can do it. That the thing we found hard, that perhaps we failed at in the past, that maybe we doubted we could do, was possible for us. So now we have the evidence that we can do difficult things. Which means that not only do we have the proof that we can do it the next time we’re faced with the same challenge but the evidence that we are capable also applies to brand new challenges.
By taking even just a tiny amount of time to pause, recognise that you overcame an obstacle (even one you think is small) and celebrate it you’re banking this experience into your memory. You’ve building your resilience by proving to yourself that you are capable and boosting your confidence at the same time.
This comes up with my coaching clients. They’re faced with a challenge that feels daunting and they doubt how they’re going to cope with it. It may be a situation they haven’t faced before so they don’t feel they have direct experience they can call on. But what they do have is experience of dealing with other difficulties in their lives, they have proof that they coped and the memory of what helped them in the past. And that’s what they can call on to help them move forward with the next challenge.
By brushing past moments to celebrate, whether they’re big or small, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to build your resilience, to strengthen your confidence and to collect evidence of what you’re capable of.
It also takes away the opportunity to feel comfort and hope in the future too. So imagine something happens and in that moment you feel a shot of happiness – perhaps your dog came back on the first recall, or your son tidied his room when you asked him to, or you had a great night’s sleep. By focusing for just a moment on that instance, on how happy you feel with your dog or your son or how good you feel for the sleep, you’re not only feeling gorgeous positive feelings right now in the present, you’re also banking it in your memory.
So the next time that your dog is bounding around the park paying zero attention to you, or the next time that your son has a hissy fit about picking up his toys or the next time you have a restless night’s sleep, and let’s face it, there will be a next time for all of these examples, you have these past memories to recall. And by remembering that it happened in the past you’re reminding yourself that it is possible for it to happen again.
Plus, by replaying your past experience and recalling those feelings of joy you’re giving yourself the strength to deal with the current situation with the belief that your dog will recall, your son will tidy his room and you will get a good night’s sleep again. You’re widening your focus from this instance where you’re feeling frustrated or fed up to the bigger picture which shows you that this is not how life has always been or how it will always be.
So there’s more to celebrating than you might have first thought! And there’s plenty more I can say on this topic.
Here’s what I want you to remember: by only celebrating the big, obvious stuff you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re robbing yourself of opportunities, every day, to feel joy and a sense of achievement, to build your resilience and strengthen your self-confidence, and to remind the mean and scared little voice in your head that she doesn’t need to protect you. You’ve got this.
So what has already happened in your day that you can celebrate now? I’m going to celebrate finishing this 59th episode of the podcast by making a cup of tea and cuddling my dog who, in case you wondered, can be a little fickle at coming back when she’s called.
As I said at the start of this episode, The Calm Mind Club is closing to new members on 3 December. So, if you want to overcome your overwhelm so you can find calm and confidence with a supportive community, go to thecalmmindclub.com now and join us.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
Copyright ©2020 Gabrielle Treanor
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