I just published my first post last night. Immediately afterwards my anxiety had a field day with me.
Part of the purpose behind this writing journey is therapeutic…to help work through and relieve a little of my own anxiety. However, once I hit the “publish” button that nasty little anxiety monster (I picture him as Gachnar, the little Fear Demon from Buffy) sat smug and all scary looking on my shoulder, whispering diabolically in my ear … “you overexposed yourself”, “no one wants to read about your shit”, “you’re wasting your time”, “people are going to judge you”, “your friends and family are going to be disappointed in you when they learn how fallible you are”, “you’re embarrassing yourself”. I was so full of self-doubt, worry, fear. I expressed myself in writing to help my anxiety but ended up riddled with it! Oh Alanis…sing it, girl.
Then my daughter sent me a text and said “I’m proud of you”. That’s all it took. All squinty eyed, I glared at that little shit-disturber on my shoulder, he looked back at me defiantly, and I gave him the finger and flicked him off. He begrudgingly crawled back to wherever it is he lies in wait for the opportune moment to perch himself right back up there on my shoulder to fuck with my reality. But he retreated. He retreated because of those four simple words from my daughter.
Then I read comments on my blog and on social media from family and friends that made my eyes sweat. I teared up with the feeling of acceptance and support. It wasn’t at all what I expected…because that little monster had filled my head with irrational worries and fears. It’s difficult not to listen. It’s hard to differentiate between what the little monster is filling your head with and what is actuality.
Telling someone you are proud of them has an extremely profound effect. Whether you use the exact words “I’m proud of you”, or just take a minute to give recognition and praise in some small but genuine way, it will have a powerful impact. Especially on someone who is struggling. Don’t underestimate that. It can help correct their perception of their reality. It can also help them recognize that they have achieved something positive, regardless of how small the feat. It might have been an incredible win for someone to just get out of bed that day and your words of encouragement, no matter how simple they are, could make all the difference for them to keep going, to continue making an effort.
The thing is, we don’t always know who is struggling or with what. Some of us are really skilled at hiding it behind the smiles, the jokes, the laughter. So never assume that anyone is exempt from needing a little praise, a little recognition.
So tell the people you care about that you are proud of them for something. Anything. Even if you get an eye-roll or an “oh, whatever, it’s not a big deal”, trust me…it hits home…and it IS a big deal. It might seem trivial, but you will have made a huge difference in their day…maybe even their life.