Feeling Good About Yourself Shouldn’t Be A Reward

Ajigaura Beach, Ibaraki, Japan

Rewarding oneself is not particularly uncommon. We reward ourselves for a variety of reasons, usually after accomplishing something considered a goal or an important task. If a quick internet search on the topic of rewarding oneself proves anything, it is that, at its core, people are seeking reasons to feel better about themselves.

How we choose to reward ourselves also varies. However, some examples are going out to eat, shopping, or taking a vacation. Using food, in particular, may tap into childhood experiences, where food may have been used either as a reward or punishment, based upon behavior. Ultimately, how you choose to reward yourself for your achievements is how you choose to reward yourself.

Lately, I have been reading about motivation and engagement, particularly within the workplace. After all, I spend a great deal of my working, and understanding how and why I am working is important to me. Just so you know, I tend to be a more intrinsically motivated person, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Regarding engaging with life, I am finding my flow.

Journeying toward the within is lifelong. When I first started this blog, just over a decade ago, I little knew my direction, only that I was moving towards something or self that was different from what I knew or had come to accept. Ten years later, I have come to realize that…

I have spent a long time thinking that feeling good about myself was a type of reward. It wasn’t something that I was allowed to experience on daily basis. It was a treat, as it were. I could reward myself with feeling good about me and my life after I had accomplished something meaningful, after I became someone useful, etc. Feeling good just because I exist wasn’t a concept I inherently understood.

This, of course, may seem rather strange, considering my background as a therapist. Being a therapist doesn’t mean, however, that you have your own psychology completed sorted. After all, therapists need therapists, too. It may be far easier to see the problems of others and understand how to effect positive change than to see and make changes in one’s own life.

I am certain that I am not alone in this thinking pattern of feeling good as a reward. It is telltale of a life defined by expected perfection and overachievement. It can mean a life of never feeling quite good enough and of rarely, if ever, acknowledging what one has done…because there is always some way that one can improve or that something more that should be done. An accomplishment becomes a brief signal that for a moment you can feel good about your existence.

Such a difficult way to live life…

Kashima Shrine Gate, Japan

Feeling good about yourself can be an everyday experience. It comes with acknowledging your existence as being meaningful–that as you are, you are worthy. Worthy of what? Worthy of self-love, self-care, self-regard, self-trust, etc. The life you have built up until now is yours to do with as you will. It isn’t a race that you either win or lose. It is simply a life, one that can be lived positively (if not always happily).

So, where do we go from here? Well, I have a couple of recommendations:

  1. Start simple – Think/write about how you have been viewing you and your life up until now.
  2. Inform yourself – Learn about ways you can improve enjoying who you are in your everyday life.
  3. Step back – Take time to yourself, just for yourself, to do something/experience good.

I enjoy reading. Here are some books that I have been using to help my journey:

Feeling good about yourself, if it is unfamiliar to you, may be likened to forming a new habit. Let’s be real, it will take time, consistency, and a patience. There are various theories and approaches to how one can form a habit. My recommendation is to keep it simple and focus on the moment you are in and how you are feeling.

You may not always feel great about your thoughts and your actions. However, you can always feel good about who you are and your existence.

Check out this interesting article on rewards by Gretchin Rubin (PsychologyToday.com): “Why We Shouldn’t Reward Ourselves for Good A Habits…With One Exception.”

Until Next Time,

Diedre

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