Or learning to celebrate your wins
Last week my flatmate was having lunch with me and told me how anxious she was feeling about posting a couple of pics on Instagram. She had sent the pics to a friend of hers and got good feedback. She had sent them to her sister and got told “that she had better pics, but those were okay” (I think this comment destroyed her).
She was unexpectedly anxious. And we kept talking about it until we reached what was REALLY going on, she was afraid of getting less than a thousand likes, but honestly, she was afraid of what would others think of her. Sometimes I forget that’s something worth dealing with and incapacitating for many people.
We went through all the logical things to consider:
- How do people like a pic? They barely watch it, and if they have been scrolling for a while it’s not really a choice anymore, it’s like when you get tired on tinder and you just accept or denial on autopilot. Point being: the decision of giving it a like or not is quite arbitrary and RANDOM
- It was objectively true that she looked good in the pictures. However, some subjective opinions would like it less, a lot less and some would praise her on them.
- Her fear laked basis, none of her pics had less than a thousand likes.
After a while I told her that, honestly, the decision was made, she had to post them, not because of the pics, but because of how uncomfortable this was making her feel. And it was the only possible answer to the anxious state she was in. By the end of lunch, she took her phone and posted them with a nice text vaguely referencing what she had felt. Immediately after she wanted to go check how it looks and, being barely a decision, I took her phone.
Her heart raises and tried to argue why she wanted to check the pics, she couldn’t, she obviously knew how a post looks like. And I told her I would give her the phone back when her heart-raise? had gone down. Bear in mind that we have a close relationship and I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing the whole time and constantly looking out for any kind of sign that told me that I was overstepping her boundaries.
She went to the bathroom and I told her I was going out for Nutella (we had made a cake, forgot to put in the sugar, so we were in need of sugar stuff to make it edible) and, IN A INSTANT? I told her I was taking her phone, she argued, but also laugh, I felt it was safe to do it. I also told her I was taking her computer, however, I just hid it under my pillows.
Going out to buy Nutella and going back up was less than ten minutes and she had also cleaned the whole floor, washed and dried the dishes and transplanted a plant that was long overdue. She was anxiously happy when I came back and, still unsure why, I persuaded her to wait until we had the un-sweetened cake rubbed with nutella on our plates to check the post.
When everything was ready I pulled out a candle from my bag and light it on the cake. I told her to blow it to celebrate both, posting the pic and also being able to calm herself down. She was happy. She said that if every time we handle a fear we got to celebrate it with a cake and a candle, getting over fears would become incredibly easy.
And in retrospect, it was stunningly easy to do what we did and it was incredibly effective and meaningful for her. I tried her to convince a video we made where she was explaining why she would blow the candles, no luck was found there.
Why is celebrating wins important?
It might seem dumb, a waste of time, but it is anything but that. It builds a very key memory: doing something scary is worth celebrating, the pain you might feel while doing it and way after then is also liked with a wave of pleasure. Next time, this memory of the pleasure of celebrating will come back to your mind.
James Clear, in Atomic Habits, emphasizes this aspect when struggling to build a new habit with the best of examples: why do you think football players celebrate with such emphasis a goal? To build up the pleasure that concludes the tiring effort it is to train for the game.
And lastly, it’s just fun
We are very concerned about building productivity habits, improving our routines, and making the most of every action. Having fun might no seem like it fits into any of the just mentioned categories, however, it fits into all and every one of them. It helps to build productivity because if it’s fun you will keep coming back and building consistency and when an action it’s fun, what else can you ask for? Life tends to be a bit too much overwhelming and crowded, having fun helps us cope with it’s most demanding efforts.