week roller coaster. I never would have thought I’d end this week feeling like a strong dragon. Winter was being a relentless beast again, another illness took me out of commission, and an attempt at completing personal directives with my Mom went even worse than anticipated (which lead to more grief and guilt). I felt weak and was having a hard time not taking it as evaluation (“I must be worse, I’m not a dragon anymore”).
However, thanks to everything I’ve learned and the tools I now have, I knew to (at least try) not fuse with those thoughts and to practice self-compassion. After a few days of doing “strong and healthy” things I was starting to believe in myself again. And then I made a rash, super brave, decision. I scheduled an appointment to get a root canal done the next day. I decided I was tired of being afraid of it (it’s been almost a year that I’ve known I had to do this and every once in awhile the tooth starts to hurt and I panic- and obsess over it for
days weeks.) For all you ACT peeps out there, I chose to use the “As If” technique to the extreme.
Still afraid and not sure I’d make it through (I am extremely claustrophobic with the dental dam and last time I had work done I was sedated), I found myself power posing in the bathroom of the dental office repeating “I can do this, I’m a fucking dragon”. Far from confident, but determined to give it my best shot.
It wasn’t a breeze, but I’m proud to say I made it through the procedure (without drugs) and now I am so happy to have this behind me, and more importantly, to know that I can handle it.
When the appointment ended I was super proud of myself, but then I quickly dismissed and minimized it. I sarcastically snorted at myself, “Wow you did something that everyone else would be able to do no problem”. Thankfully the dragon was on fire so I didn’t listen to those thoughts long. I could not wipe the crooked smile off my half-frozen face. I felt happy, brave, incredibly proud, and strong.
I celebrated by buying myself banana popsicles, watching a comforting show, and
walking dancing around my house the whole evening singing “I’m a motherfucking dragon”.
So why celebrate?
As someone who uses the strategy of positive reinforcement with children on a daily basis (and sees the pay off) it still took a bit of adjustment to apply it to myself. Simply put, you do something good, you get something good. Being reinforced for listening to your strong and healthy self makes it more likely that you will continue to listen.
Celebrating is also important because it lets you truly appreciate the good job you’ve done. By taking the time and effort to celebrate, it gives you more space to really lean into the feelings of being proud and strong. Acknowledging and sitting with this strong feeling is important because the peaks are where we recharge.
Had I let myself cut down my accomplishment and stifle that proud dragon, I would still be feeling weak like I was the day before.
I think it is difficult for us to acknowledge when we do a good job because we have this idea that doing good should just be a given. When we don’t live up to our standards we are quick to beat ourselves up; however, when we do well by ourselves we basically say “So what, you only did what you should have done – that’s nothing special”.
Well, it is special, and we can show ourselves by celebrating those victories, both big and small.