The Trophy Doesn't Prove It
Lately, I've been unpacking some of my desires, beliefs and thoughts. I feel like I'm being blocked and held back from taking more of the actions I want to take, but I also feel that it's from my own making...so I started journaling about it to try and identify what beliefs or lack of beliefs were and are holding me back.
[Note: As part of Cycle-Synching, I take full advantage of my menstrual phase by doing A LOT of journaling at that time because the communication between a woman's left brain and her right brain is at it's greatest during her menstrual phase.]
The result was kind of shocking to me. And, a little embarrassing to admit. Sometimes that happens though. Sometimes we have beliefs at the surface that aren't deep-rooted yet. Sometimes it takes up-rooting the old beliefs that aren't serving us before we can begin to really and truly replace them.
For me, I have issues with believing I'm good - as in skilled, talented, etc. But, I didn't always have this issue - in fact I used to be on the opposite side of the spectrum - and walk around KNOWING I was good. I don't think I ever took it to an arrogant, I'm better than you are as a human being because I happen to be better at this particular skill, level - but I can't quite remember. If I did that, I apologize to the people who experienced that and who are most likely not reading this anyways, but still, I'm sorry.
I uncovered a connection between this belief, my motivation to work and the "trophies" I want in life, be it words of affirmation from loved ones [and strangers], so many clients that I have to waitlist people, thousands of people on my email list, etc. etc.
Behold, the somewhat embarrassing conversations I have with myself...
"What am I hiding from? What am I afraid will happen if I'm successful? Do I believe I'm not worthy of success?
In Elementary, Middle & High School I KNEW I was smart, talented, artistic & creative. I got excellent grades, got awarded for my art skills, got trophies for my performances, plaques for my academic achievements, certificates and medals for races...
I also worked hard. I ran 5 days a week, sometimes 6 - I drew every day, I studied every day, I wrote every day, I did my homework every day, I practiced my speech pieces every day. [I was on the Speech Team in HS - background info necessary for a lot of this to make any sense.]
I did those things [the work not the activities themselves] because I believed I had to but I also really enjoyed them - but did I enjoy them for what they were or did I enjoy them because I was naturally good at them and got awarded & recognized for them?
When I was younger, I always expected to win and be recognized because I did the work, was good at the work and knew I was the best. [You can tell this is a real journal entry - no holds back.]
Am I not succeeding [the way I want] now because I know I'm not the best? Am I not working the way I should be because I'm not getting the recognition? But wouldn't the recognition come if I did the work?
I think I'm not doing the work because I haven't convinced myself that the recognition will actually come. [Sucks to admit this to myself.]
Our society glorifies people who have thousands and millions of followers while simultaneously scoffing, shaming and belittling anyone seeking that for themselves. [Gross reality.]
If you grow up getting recognition for what you do, then the recognition goes away - wouldn't it make sense to try and attain that recognition again? Wouldn't you look to see where the recognition went [where the attention is] and try to do whatever it is that requires you to achieve that recognition again?
You can't stand up and say you like recognition though - because then you're labeled as someone who is fake, arrogant, self-absorbed and who's intentions and motives aren't pure. [YEP.]
Are accomplishments and recognition my fuel? Yep! You bet! But I'm supposed to ONLY be fueled by the love of the work and the impact it makes, no matter how small - not the recognition it may or may not bring.
Don't get me wrong - I love that stuff too!
But I've been living with so many false and negative beliefs that are keeping me down and making me feel bad that I've been completely sabotaging myself. If the accomplishments drive you, why can't you pursue them? [For reals though.]
Why can't both drive you? Why can't you love what you do and need recognition to keep lighting your fuel tank [bad metaphor... lighting your fire or filling your fuel tank, not lighting your fuel tank hahaha] because you also love all the good that comes from your work?
I agree that accomplishments can't be your only fuel because that will leave you miserable when they don't come through... but you also will be miserable if accomplishments are part of your fuel and you're trying to beat that desire out of you. [Cough cough something I've been trying to do because I believe the desire for recognition is shameful because I've seen it shamed so much in our society cough cough.]
So. Why do I do what I do? [Getting back to basics.]
Because I feel called to it. Because I believe in it. Because I'm good at it. Because I like it and because it feels awesome to be noticed and recognized for doing it. [All of the above.]
When I was younger I knew I was good, so I did the work, expected the reward, got the reward - which then reinforced that I was good and that started the whole cycle over again.
My problem is that I don't believe I'm good anymore - so what can I do to rebuild that belief?
[I'm going to put a disclaimer here and say that it's not that I don't believe I'm a good person or that I'm called to the kind of work that I do, it's that I don't feel like..like I'm good - yeah hahaha - didn't need the disclaimer after all... People have told me I'm good, but that doesn't seem to be making the connection with me.]
- Know I'm good at what I do.
- Do the work of what I do.
- Expect to be noticed because of what I do.
- Get recognized for what I do.
- Get reinforced for being good.
- Rinse & repeat.
It's not the recognition or trophy or award alone that makes me feel good or believe that I'm good at the thing I got a trophy for...
Case in point - I used to get trophies for Softball. They were participation trophies and not a single one of them ever for a second made me feel like I was ANY good at Softball. Never happened.
I KNEW I was bad at Softball and getting a trophy for doing Softball wasn't going to change that, and also...
When I got 6th place for Poetry at States [Speech team stuff] my Senior year in HS I was PISSED. I knew, and still know, that I should have at least gotten second place. [Wish I still didn't get bitter when I think of this...]
I was unanimously ranked #1 in my Semi-Final round of six people with the top three moving on to the final round which meant, at worst, I would get 4th place in Finals if I wasn't better than the top three in the other Semi-Final round. But this was States, which meant I had competed against these people before and every time I got first or second. [So I knew I could and should beat them again.]
I knew my only real competition was another girl on my team who was also doing Poetry. She unanimously got ranked #1 in her Semi-Final round as well and so first and second should have been between us and we knew it.
When the awards came and my name got called first because I had gotten 6th place - everyone was shocked! Everyone knew I was good and that I deserved better and yet - I got 6th place. [Seriously, the looks I got from the other Poetry participants as well as the other folks in the Final round confirmed this.]
I was pissed because I knew I was good, I had done the work, I expected the reward, I didn't get the reward and instead of feeling like I wasn't good because I didn't get the reward - I was pissed because I KNEW I was good and deserved it and yet I didn't get it - but my belief that I was good didn't change.
The trophies in both cases never altered my belief, but for some reason, now, my lack of reward that I want is massively affecting my belief. Why?????
The lack of reward is discouraging me from doing the work [at the level I know I need to], but if I believed in myself and my ability, the lack of reward wouldn't matter. Right?
Right now the lack of reward is proving to me that I'm not good.
Right now the reward that I want is more clients, more money & more subscribers. I believe that if I have those it PROVES that I'm good and that if I don't it PROVES that I'm not good.
Right now, the trophy is holding the power over my beliefs and I need to reverse it. I need my belief in myself and my ability to hold the power - not the trophy.
When I reverse who has the power - the trophies and rewards will come. How do I flip the belief?"
This journaling exercise was INCREDIBLY helpful. It made me realize I've got some more work to do around my own beliefs in myself, and you know what, just writing this, talking about this and sharing this has been enough to start turning those beliefs around.
[Giving voice and space to the negative voices and false beliefs swimming inside of your mind is the first step in calling out their BS, recognizing how ridiculous they are and doing the work to refute them.]
If I'm honest, I DO know that I'm good and that I just need to keep showing up and trying new things and doing the work in order to get to the level that I want.
Maybe I'm impatient? Is that it? Sigh. I don't know.
But I do know that the "Trophies" we want in life prove NOTHING. That realization and the memory of those two particular stories truly brought that to light for me.
The trophies don't prove that we're good or bad at something. The trophies are subjective.
My Softball coaches felt the need to make everyone feel good about themselves and feel like "winners" so they gave everyone a trophy. Those judges in my last round at States either truly hated my piece, or they wanted to try and take down my HS from winning States for the 28th year in a row and thought they could do that by giving me 6th place instead of 2nd which would give our school less points - but it wasn't enough because we still won, so there. [And my teammate won first place - something she absolutely deserved!]
In both cases, the presence of the trophy or the lack of the trophy didn't change anything for me. I still knew I was bad at softball and I still knew I freaking rocked Poetry [and Prose and Dramatic Duo and Declamation and HI/DI...super humble.]
It's not the trophies that prove it - it's the belief in ourselves that proves it.
Just because you like "trophies" and recognition doesn't mean you're being fake - in fact - you're being truly authentic to yourself by recognizing that.
My love language is Words of Affirmation - which means I love me some "trophies" - it feels great! And although I never do what I do for the sole purpose of those trophies, I'd be lying if I said they didn't motivate me to keep going.
If you're like me in that recognition and trophies and words of affirmation are a part of your fuel, don't let the pretentious gate-keepers of "authenticity" shame you into thinking that's something you shouldn't want or desire. Just don't let the lack of those "trophies" tear you down.
I'll keep you posted on how I go about the process of building this belief that I'm good back up - because I'm sure there's someone out there who is feeling the same - just know that you're not alone and I've got your back!
Love & Blessings,
P.S. I'm really good at coaching myself - like really good. You would think that that in and of itself would be enough to convince me that I'm good at what I do...but there's another level to this that I WILL unpack! [Jazz hands emoji.]