We are about to end another decade after our normal holiday celebrations. As I communicate with many individuals throughout the year I typically hear more about what we are not happy with, what we wish we would have done differently or what we did not do well enough. We also commonly communicate those kinds of messages to our kids and families. It is part of our culture for us to be achievers and to not settle for less than we feel we are capable of. In some regards I like that motivation to always excel and do better.
However, it often ends up that we are feeling “not good enough.” In my years of dealing with individuals who are struggling with their identity or self-esteem some of the reflections I hear about their past is that they consistently heard messages that emphasized how they could have done something better. Sometimes it leaves them with a sense of never accomplishing the expectations set for them by parents, teachers and others close to them. It can be quite alarming how powerful those messages can have an effect on us. I have even talked to individuals who were still attempting to please their parents even though their parents have passed away. It can become a very stressful and destructive life preoccupation.
One important fact that we know is how powerful affirmation can be to healthy brain development for our kids. It applies to adults as well. Some comparisons have been done that showed that as a culture we are rather weak on our affirmations even though our children thrive on it. It creates stability, healthy self-worth and a deep sense of well-being.
As we conclude this year I want to encourage us all to take some time to reflect on the many good accomplishments, moments, experiences, events and highlights that happened throughout 2019. In a world with so much negativity, taking some time to emphasize what was positive and went well may be both motivational and inspirational. In a society that places a great deal of stress on us to achieve and sometimes shames us if we don’t, imagine the impact of creating moments of affirming reflection on all the good that happened.
I often ask individuals who are perfectionistic, unfulfilled or who struggle to acknowledge their positive impact to take a moment near the end of each day to create a small celebration of what happened well and what achievements were accomplished. Going to sleep with thoughts of claiming such good space in our lives can allow us to drift off to sleep in a positive mindset and to wake each morning with anticipation of what lies ahead that can be equally gratifying.
So, as you reflect on the conclusion of this year for yourself or your family, it may be a really good idea to revel in the many life occurrences that we can celebrate. Even the most mundane achievements can be an opportunity to recognize, affirm and comment on those moments. Doing so can help us all be more confident, self-assured and genuinely valued for what we are contributing to our families, friends and community. What a great way to end a decade!