We’ve always been taught to take pride in our accomplishments, and recently there‘s been a focus on nurturing pride in other facets of our lives too – in our sexualities, our bodies, our heritage, in our differences.
But pride is a tricky emotion for people with mental health issues. It’s hard to feel pride when you’re overwhelmed with feeling broken, feeling different – with shame. You suffer impostor syndrome at work, feel inadequate at home. However hard you work, however much you try… you’re Just. Not. Good Enough. There’s no pride to be found in being sub-par.
Often when you’re ‘on the journey’ of tackling mental health issues – of understanding feelings, processing emotions and moving past trauma – the ultimate goal always seems to be self-acceptance. Accept who you are. Nothing more than that.
But is that the sum total of what we should be aiming for? What if we dare to suggest that our goal be pride too? And not as an unachievable end goal either, in everything, in the small, every-day things. Pride in ourselves for trying, for talking, for supporting. Pride in how our anxieties make us thoughtful people, sensitive partners, empathetic friends. Pride for, not just accepting ourselves, but being ourselves. Pride in who we are. Just like everybody else.
And whilst we’re at it, let’s try changing the things we’re criticising ourselves for into things to be proud of.
OK, you’re right – it’s not easy. We are so used to living our lives according to the big bible of self-criticism, and I certainly haven’t reached peak guru level where I can confidently start the morning by reciting positive affirmations to myself in the mirror.
But we all know that the small things add up. Every time we make an effort to praise instead of chastise, to feel pride instead of shame, we chip just a tiny bit away from that big stone block of anxious inadequacy. Let’s ALL strive for pride.
Now, how do I go about illustrating someone converting ‘intense anxiety over an incorrectly packed dishwasher’ into ‘pride in attention to detail’ for our Anxiety Pride flag……..?