Throughout my years of working with clients and observing human behavior patterns, I’ve come to understand that the origins of distress are typically aligned with the expectations that we place on ourselves, others, and the world. During the time I was working at a drug rehabilitation center, I learned a valuable motto . . .

Expectations lead to premeditated resentments.

We are setting ourselves up for disappointment when we expect something. Oftentimes, we can place unrealistic expectations on ourselves daily. This will lead us to experience negative emotions such as worthlessness and fear of inadequacy. It can be challenging to overcome these feelings when our inner critic takes over. This unsettling occurrence relates to our programming—all that we have accepted to be true about ourselves—and as I have mentioned in previous reflections, not everything we think is true. It is important to retrieve evidence to challenge negative beliefs. If you have recently found yourself feeling like a failure, I encourage you to find your journal and a pen and complete the following activity . . .

I would like you to identify five times when you have succeeded at different levels. For example, I consider obtaining my education and my master’s degree to be one of my most important successes. I would place this achievement at the top of my list. I can recognize that committing to my health and following through on the choices I’ve made for my body is another victory, which deserves the second spot on my list. I have also felt successful regarding my continued effort to write. Sharing my knowledge about mental and spiritual health is something that is significant to me, but I think this would be most appropriate for the last spot on my own list.

It is important to acknowledge that your successes do not have to match Mount St. Helen. I would encourage you to look for your everyday successes and include those on your list because they are there. When you are struggling with self-deprecating feelings, reflect on your list. Add to it! Remember to connect to the moments when you felt successful. Find your silver lining.

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