One of my friends recently celebrated her birthday. She’s in her first year of her medicine residency, her intern year which is unbelievably busy, so she had to celebrate her birthday on call. When she told me she was on call for her birthday, I responded with “that’s a bummer…” She quickly responded with, “No, I’m good. I worked really hard to get to this point, so I don’t think it’s a bad way to celebrate my birthday at all!”
“I’ll celebrate my birthday at work every year!”
Shame on me, right? I don’t want to work on my birthday, so I assumed why would she. I didn’t mean anything by it, but I projected my feelings on her experience based on my own. And as she is one of my close friends, I know how hard it was for her to get to this point and yet, I still responded based on my own feelings. (I’ve actually talked about my friend’s story here before, so check out that blog post for a little insight into her journey.)
Have you ever done that? Responded to someone else’s situation with how you think they should feel or behave or made an assumption about what they must be feeling?
We all have. And it’s not intentional, it’s just based on our own experience or our belief of what certain situations should look and feel like based on what society says about what we should do or feel.
We have this idea in our head of what success should look like, what we should look like, how we should dress, what kind of car we should drive, how many followers we should have, and even what we should be doing for our birthday.
People have an opinion about everything and if you’re not careful, you will end up living someone else’s life.
Truth be told many of us are in search of something different than where we are today. And we look to other people’s lives for an idea of what we might want for our own. This realization can be hard to accept and it’s hard to acknowledge that we may feel jealousy or inadequacy when compared to someone else’s latest post on social media. No woman really wants to admit to these feelings, and yet we all experience them. I characterize these feelings in The Cycle of Proving™, which I detail in my online program and journal.
I created The Cycle of Proving based on my personal experience and that of so many other moms who are constantly trying to prove to themselves and to the people in their lives, that they are worthy. You see, one human condition that we never outgrow is our desire to be included and our desire for connection. And sometimes that desire adds another layer of stress, both emotional and physical, to our already full lives. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be accepted and appreciated, it’s human nature. But sometimes we make decisions to solely satisfy that desire and compromise ourselves in the process.
So to prevent that, I want you to take a few minutes today to write down your ideal day. Think about how you like to spend your time and what makes you feel good. No judgment attached, no words like should, or anything my husband would probably like it if….None of that, just what do you want? This exercise can actually be hard. We never really sit down to think about what we really want. So don’t be surprised if you’re not actually sure. But the more you take time for yourself to write out your thoughts and feelings, the easier this task will be for you.
There is another point I want to make about my friend’s comment on celebrating her birthday. And that is about gratitude. She is unbelievably grateful to be a physician and expresses that every day. She never complains about being on call, spending the night at the hospital or working 16 hours days.
So often we ask for something and yet still complain. We don’t show gratitude for that which we asked for or anything else for that matter. Second task is to write down 10 things you are grateful for. And whenever you think about complaining, pull out those 10 things and remember your gratitude. Try to grow that list daily and show gratitude instead of complaining.
Now your turn, have you done these exercises before? How do you express your gratitude?