“Self-love is knowing how far you've come instead of judging the distance you still have to go."
This is my own quote, and it’s something that I often forget to acknowledge. You see, I self-classify as a recovering perfectionist. I always received A’s in school (valedictorian for my MBA program), seemed to get the jobs I really wanted, am a serial entrepreneur, and founded a nonprofit organization… the list could go on. Yet, I never gave myself credit until my end goal was achieved.
What’s wrong with that?
I missed out on watching myself grow. Self-criticism was the norm instead of nurturing myself through the process. I was way too hard on myself, which made the journey tiring, frustrating, and I surely missed out on some soul-nourishing moments. When I did reach my goals, I sometimes questioned if the gain was worth the opportunity cost.
Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun! Yet I spent too much planning, re-planning, worrying, and meeting self-imposed deadlines that robbed me of the joy of the present, the process. I was myopically focused on accomplishments and outcomes instead of allowing myself the enjoyment of discovery along the way; that had a toll on my mental health.
I mean, nobody actually said to me, “Karen, you’re nothing until you achieve this!” or “Once you reach this goal then you’ll be valuable.” Regardless, those limiting beliefs were in my psyche somewhere because that was the program I was running.
Imagine that you only honored and acknowledged your child after they achieved their goal? After obtaining a spot on the varsity team, after they received the scholarship for piano performance, or received the acceptance letter to a prestigious university? Your heart tells you they need nurturing along the way, and that you would be proud of them—love them—for the small steps as much as the large.
You are this child!
Yet, you are so busy taking care of others, making ends meet, wearing multiple hats, that it’s natural to take focus off yourself and onto the end goal.
We know self-care is important, but not everyone can take a day to themselves when even an hour may be a luxury in a time when COVID-19 changed the definition of normal. But everyone has time to pause. Honor how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, learned, and have evolved in the last year, month… or even just today. This truly is one of the greatest acts of self-love and self-care you can honor yourself with! And it only takes a moment.
Think back to one year ago. What were you going through? Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? Notice how far you’ve come! Life is a process, not a perfect. We are always evolving, so even if some goals haven’t been met you have grown, you have learned—whether through challenge or victory.
If by challenge, what have you learned? What superpower have you added to your tool belt? If by victory, no matter how small or how large, congratulate yourself. For both, be proud.
It doesn’t matter if noticeable achievements, awards, money, or accomplishments aren’t in the picture. Cast egoic judgment aside and shift to how far you’ve come on the inside. For example, perhaps you know yourself better—have learned what not to accept the next time around, and have set better boundaries. Learning from our past to prevent repeated trauma is a priceless accomplishment of the soul!
Looking back gives us perspective.
Hindsight is such a gift because, like a trusted friend, it reminds us of how far we’ve come. We’re so trained to only focus ahead and to the future that we forget to look back at how much progress has already been made.
Yes, you have grown. You should be proud!
So, take a beat. Honor yourself and your progress. It is truly the greatest act of self-love that you can express… and you deserve it.
(Want to learn more? Visit KarenFullerton.com/lifeline)