If someone asks you how your week is going, what are you most likely going to focus on? Too often we get caught up in the things that we didn’t do well, the tasks we didn’t complete, or simply the daunting things piling up in front of us. And sometimes, all of those things start to sound like a negative committee in our head that is communicating that we are not good enough or working hard enough to celebrate exactly who we are in this moment.
What if you paused today and simply asked the question: “What did I do well this week?” There is something powerful about this question because it holds the answer to where our strengths are found. Through examining this question, we can reveal what we do automatically, and sometimes with little to no effort. Herein lies the key to what really makes us strong.
Now for those of us who have a particularly loud inner critic, this exercise may prove to be more complex and require careful attention to avoid the desire of focusing on deficiencies. However, if you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to a stronger you:
- First, gather your writing paper/pens (this is better than the computer to decrease the likelihood of distractions).
- Next, sit and allow yourself to feel calm. This will look different for everyone, but do what works for you. It may include abdominal breathing, remembering self-compassion, smiling, soothing music, or even just thinking positive thoughts. Whatever works for you, take as much time as you need. Being calm and present is the most important part of this task.
- After you feel calm and relaxed, reflect on your week and think about all the events from the past 7 days. You may want to jot down certain names/places/things that happened.
- When you have brainstormed for a minute or so, begin documenting the things that you did each day that you enjoyed, brought you satisfaction, made you smile, and/or you want to repeat.
That’s all. Don’t worry if you had one great day and then one really crappy day….you are focusing on the positives. If you woke up early one day, had a good workout, connected with a friend over dinner, and noticed a beautiful sunset, then you write it down. However, and this is VERY important, if you find your mind wandering to the day that you overslept, had a conflict at work, ate all junk food, or argued with your partner; take a deep breath and focus on listing out only the things that you feel good about. Sure, maybe you had a crap day for the most part, but can you find something that was positive? Maybe it was the fact that you got up and dressed that day? Or maybe it was that you decided not to go bed angry. If you sincerely look for the best parts of your day, I believe you will find it.
Every day we do something that supports us, that makes us feel whole, that motivates us to try again the next day; but we can get so caught up in the one or maybe five things we did ‘wrong’ or not quite good enough that we overlook and even forget the small awesome moments. Please do not think any act was too small….if you smiled at even one person one day; that is something work celebrating and acknowledging.
The whole exercise should only take a few minutes and the most time-consuming part may be the getting to calm but it can be incredibly powerful to consciously acknowledge all of the good things you did this week. And as with any exercise, you will need to repeat it often to reap the full benefits. So start today, see how you feel, then try it again next week. Hopefully with a few intentional exercises of highlighting your own strengths you can start to recognize that you really are stronger than you realized and that you have incredible potential to become even stronger.
Be happy, be healthy, be strong.