My coach, Emily Benson, suggested that I read Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles. Wow, did it boost my self-esteem. Listing your victories is one of the most powerful, life-changing things you can do. Why? Because we focus on our mistakes and not our victories.
Remembering mistakes undermines our confidence. Whereas acknowledging our victories is empowering and boosts our confidence that we will be able to succeed and triumph over new challenges.
The exercise asks you to first list the victories in each third of your life. That was easy, but not life-changing. However, listing the top 100 victories of my life did change my life.
First, I have little memory of being happy from 14 to 17. So I was surprised to find I had many victories during that time:
- studied piano – after 9 months got 5-year certificate [was told talented enough could play as a concert pianist if continued to study]
- learned to drive a stick (manual)
- drove myself to school
- paid for gas, car insurance, clothes and doctor appointments
- made most all of my clothes
- girlfriend of Ted Gostin
- elected President of Aurora, elite girls’ club
- moved out on my own at 17-years-old
- had five jobs in high school
- learned how to run professional sewing machine (20x faster than household)
- offered officer position in US Army in top secret intelligence
- fell in love with Kent
- decided not to go into Army, honorably discharged
- manager of Zip’z Ice Cream
- took Evelyn Wood speed reading
- wrote first poem (probably my best)
- Always wanted to write novels
- But read cheap paperback romances
- All by the same author
- Drinking Tawny Port
- Twisting lipstick-smeared butts
- Into an ashtray.
- graduated high school early with honors and got a small scholarship
- accepted at UC San Diego, attended first quarter
- accepted at UC Santa Barbara
Acknowledging these victories flabbergasted me. I remember being mostly miserable to the point my aunt whom I lived with said, “My God child, that is the first word you have spoken in three months.”
What stands out of those years?
- being molested repeatedly
- no one believing me or protecting me
- abhorring my step-father
- the SHAME of going blank mid-performance of my piano recital in front of family and friends
- the SHAME of amnesia playing piano to this day
- the SHAME of not being able to play even easy songs
- the SHAME and confusion of having amnesia in high school
- my father sending me back to live with my step-father
- deciding I was crazy
- my mother’s horrific death
- the SHAME of believing I caused my mother’s suicide
- SHAME so bad I didn’t tell childhood friends she had died because then I’d have to confess my unconscionable crime of pushing her to suicide
- SHAME so bad I stared over cliffs
- SHAME that I didn’t have the courage to jump
- violent nightmares
- wanting to never see anyone I knew or loved again which is why signed up for the Army
- believing God was justifiably punishing me
- believing that I didn’t deserve the air I breathed
- wishing I was dead.
So you can see how destructive our thoughts can be. And how all it takes is a kind, wise soul like Jack Canfield to redirect your thinking. All of the sudden, I felt better about my past. I had been functional and participating in life during those teen years. But because I was fundamentally confused and mostly miserable, I thought I was failing.
One wise therapist explained years later that it is common for children to decide they are crazy.
- It means the child is safe if the adults are sane.
- The adults will protect and take care of the crazy child.
Hence, if I’ve one piece of advice for EVERYONE who is depressed, scared, confused, overwhelmed, or apathetic: list your 100 top victories.
And keep adding to your list.
Why? Because WE FORGET OUR TRIUMPHS. That sounds ludicrous and it is. Yet too many people are on the life sucks train. Self-pity, feeling victimized, blaming others, getting mad, proving others wrong, trying to change others, etc., is the gist and focus of the average person.
Decide to stop being average.
When your esteem is raised, so is your willingness to try new things, have new thoughts, able to be more tolerant of others, less sensitive to slights and criticisms, and best of all, feel better. You smile more. Life seems easier. And what you want starts showing up more in your life.
DON’T WAIT! MAKE THAT LIST TODAY!
And leave me a comment! I truly want to hear how this changed your life, and if it didn’t, tell me that, too. Either way, SEND ME YOUR LIST! Celebrating your triumphs makes me feel better, too. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone lifts you out of isolation and overwhelm.
ASK FOR HELP! That warrants a whole new post.
Hugs and joy, Kathryn