Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

Are You Celebrating Small Victories?

Matthew Cuddeback LCSW

           Something that I have been hearing more and more recently is a reluctance from people to admit that they feel good about something small. We all do this at times, we feel awkward admitting that something felt good, or we are proud of a certain achievement but feel we cannot indulge this feeling. We should always allow ourselves to feel good about the things that actually feel good instead of pretending we don’t, but this is especially important when there is a lot going on our lives that we don’t feel are going well. Let’s talk about a few reasons why it’s important to allow ourselves to feel good.

  •       Experiential Acceptance-One of the key reasons it is important to allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling is because we are feeling it whether we want to admit it or not. If we try to pretend, we don’t, we end up feeling it in a less pleasant and more problematic way, and often more exhausted because we fought that feeling. We can allow ourselves to feel things without becoming that thing. If you are sad, disappointed, or angry pretending you not won’t change it, and it will come out somehow. The same is true about feeling happy, admitting you felt good about a compliment, or finishing a book, or beating a game will not change or taint the experience. If you don’t, that feeling persists but can become problematic resulting in unhealthy patterns and resentments.
  •       Positive Psychology- This is a therapeutic model that takes a lot of cues from neurology. We know that when we feel happy chemical reactions inside us create a feeling of a type of euphoria. This is an incredibly powerful experience, so why would we want to avoid it? If you feel good because you feel like you really nailed that work project, admit it. Tell yourself why you feel good, explore it. This chemical reaction will continue to grow and build into even more happy feelings.
  •       Cognitive Restructuring- A part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is particularly apropos here is Cognitive Restructuring. The idea here is that we can change negative or unhealthy thought patterns in part by recognizing faulty thinking. A common struggle we have here is all or nothing thinking and catastrophizing. We often convince ourselves that everything is terrible when we are feeling negative, and when we catastrophize, we unintentionally only focus on the negative and look for proof of our negative thoughts. When we restructure these processes, we are trying to identify that it is rarely the case that things are all or nothing, that everything is terrible. Allowing ourselves to see that some good things are happening too breaks down this negative thinking and allows us to see the whole picture and feel a bit more hopeful.
  •       Filling in The Picture- Finally, all of these steps are really intended to help people see there is always more going on in any given situation than we often let ourselves see. You had a couple of problems at work in the last week and now you are convinced everything in your life is falling apart. But, if you do the things mentioned above you start to see that what actually happened is that you had a couple problems at work, that’s it. People make mistakes, other things may not be going poorly, and in fact you felt really good some other things that happened but lost track of that. Allowing yourself to celebrate the good, even if it’s small will help you see a fuller and more accurate picture and can help to create hope.

None of this negates the negatives, there often are terrible, difficult things we are dealing with and trying to force yourself to feel happy because your friend sent you a nice card isn’t going to change that. However, admitting that card, or video game triumph, or kind word at work did actually feel good and that is worth celebrating because it will help balance the negative and help you see that some things are good too. Even if it is a small victory, it is a victory none the less.

Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More