Every day in my office, I see people who have accomplished amazing things! But rather than celebrate their achievements, they usually negate them with some statement that begins, “Yeah, but…”
“I have a PhD in mechanical engineering and recently got promoted BUT none of that really matters because I can’t seem to lose these last 20 pounds.”
“I am a medical doctor with a thriving practice BUT I have $100,000 in student loan debt…”
I’ll be honest here—I, too, downplay my accomplishments, which is one reason I understand the problem so well. Here’s one of my own examples: I wrote an excellent book about emotional eating called Feed Your Real Hunger. It earned great reviews, was a finalist in a writing contest, and is very well-written…BUT sales of the book were kind of underwhelming, so in some ways it feels like a failure.
Really, now. Who cares that much about 20 pounds? And most people have at least some debt, but how many are saving lives every day? Lastly, very few people write and publish books, even bad ones, so why focus on sales numbers? (I’m talking to myself here)
It seems like women are particularly prone to diminishing their triumphs. I once had a client who grew up in abject poverty, often going to bed hungry. When she came from her country of origin to the U.S. at the age of 12, she spoke very little English. This same disadvantaged woman overcame all of that and went on to be the first person in her family to get a college education. Then she blew past that and got a master’s degree, all while working two jobs, living with three roommates, and basically having no personal life for six years. How could she possibly have a “Yeah, but…”? According to her, she felt like a failure because she had a really hard time with public speaking. In her words, “I still feel like that confused 12-year-old girl who doesn’t understand what the teacher is saying to me.”
It doesn’t help any that the world will try to knock you down and convince you that even a one-in-a-million feat doesn’t really count. Unfortunately, the success of others often has the effect of bringing peoples’ insecurities to the surface, and the more they can criticize and discount, the less they have to face up to their own shortcomings. The thing is, life is not a bank statement where you look at your success-to-failure ratio to determine net worth. Life is something else far more satisfying than that.
Jill Thomas, Board Certified Hypnotherapist, weight-loss consultant, & author, has been a health and wellness professional for over 15 years, specializing in stress / anxiety reduction and attainment of holistic wellbeing.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
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