I recently started the Beach Body 80 Day Obsession workout plan, in conjunction with my Advocare One80. I was finishing my Leg Day work out, sucking wind and pushing myself while my husband was watching the girls, and trying to occupy them so I could concentrate on a workout that was kicking my @$$. He was in and out of the living room during my workout, and when I finished, after what felt like 5 Hours, he said to me “you did great babe!” He genuinely motivates me and means it when he says it. However my immediate response was something along the lines of “well it wasn’t much, but I tried. It doesn’t look that hard, but it really is.” His reply has been ruminating in my mind since the interaction; he said “why are you discrediting something you just worked hard on?”
I clearly worked hard. He saw that and I felt it; yet my immediate reaction was to criticize my own experience. Why? In my life, I try to be an encourager. I try to lift people up and help them see the great parts of themselves. I try to be someone who is a cheerleader to their accomplishments. And yet in my own life and events I found myself in this situation, diminishing what I accomplished. Even as I write this post, I think about how I have described my blog to the few people I have told about it. I generally say something along the lines of “It’s not big deal, it’s just a way to keep myself accountable, you don’t even have to read it.”
I know I’m not the only one who does this. I hear women do this all the time (and I correct them, pot meet kettle). This got me thinking, do we put ourselves down as a defense mechanism? Like if we point it out first, and beat someone to the punch, then we take their power away to put us down and feel judged? Rachel Hollis touches on an aspect of this concept in Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be; She describes having to make herself small in order for others to feel big. She had to diminish herself throughout her life as a defense mechanism in a dysfunctional environment. And although I am very fortunate to have a strong supportive environment for myself, I still find myself participating in this pattern of undervaluing something I am working hard on. Deep down I wonder if this is one of the reasons I hear women (and men) use this type of self-deprecation. Like if we acknowledge an accomplishment of our own, it would someone take away something from someone else?
We don’t have to make ourselves feel small to allow others to feel big. There is space for everyone. There is space where we can all take pride in our achievements whether large or small. There is space so we can make those around us feel adept and accomplished and also include oneself in that space. There is space where we can be open and excited about our accomplishments without fear of judgement. These work outs are a commitment to myself. Just as my happiness project and this blog are commitments to myself. And in many ways there is a fear in sharing this commitment. Putting yourself out there can be scary. In openness there can be judgement.
How do we then move past self-deprecation, fear of judgement, and discomfort in our accomplishments, even the smallest ones like finishing a workout and receiving the compliment? We do this by cultivating and by creating an environment to grow. Growth isn’t comfortable, it’s when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone that we see change. Perhaps if we could sit in our discomfort, even momentarily, we would learn to accept and celebrate what we are working toward. Instead of minimizing our own experience, we treat ourselves as kindly as we treat those around us.