21st December 2017
We live in a self-deprecating society, and as someone who has social anxiety I know that it’s all too easy to put myself down instead of celebrating my own achievements. Maybe it’s just part of our reserved British nature, but I know that, personally, I really struggle to shout about the things I’m most proud of. The end of the year is a prime time for reflection, and it’s easy to overlook what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months. Instead, we should be using this time to look at how far we’ve come, as opposed to how far we still have to go.
The past 12 months haven’t been easy for me, but something that my counsellor taught me this year was that I need to look at all the things I’ve managed to achieve despite going through personal struggles. I was getting bogged down in the things that I hadn’t ticked off my to-do list, and ignoring some of my proudest moments as a result.
Switching focus and reframing your mind-set is never easy, but it can make a world of difference. Instead of looking for your failures, look for those moments that made you smile, big or small. When I’m feeling my most mentally fragile, I try to take a few minutes to make a “gratitude list” of the things I’m thankful for in my life.
Success means different things to different people, and if your version of success doesn’t quite look the same as that old friend from school that you’re keeping on Facebook for some strange reason – don’t worry. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, and just because they’re shouting about their own achievements, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t had any struggles either.
If you find yourself stuck in that constant comparison trap that’s often associated with social media, it can be a good idea to change your environment and maybe sever a few virtual ties. Surrounding yourself with the right people can be so important in the way you view both the world and yourself, and this includes the people you associate with online. Unfriending people for the sake of your mental health isn’t a bad thing to do, it’s a form of self-care, and should be done regularly to help rid your life of negative influences or people who make feel bad about yourself.
Sometimes, if you’re feeling like you haven’t really achieved anything, it’s worth considering how realistic you’re being with yourself. It can be tempting to set all these amazing goals that you want to achieve in the next year, but if it’s not actually attainable then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Using realistic benchmarks to measure your achievements is the best way to see where you’re really excelling, instead of pressuring yourself to live up to warped expectations.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that life doesn’t always go to plan. Unfortunately, we can’t control everything that goes on around us, and we end up on a different path than we first intended. It’s okay if things change, that’s just the way life is!