One of the skills I learned in DBT is applauding yourself. It wasn’t until the past couple of years when I ended up creating a Discord server for close friends where we applaud ourselves – and get cheered for doing so. It doesn’t matter what any of us have done, if it was a challenge, we applaud ourselves and then everyone applauds us.
For example, those horrible billing calls you have to make that you know will take hours and put you on the phone with some rude, uncaring billing person. If making those calls gives you anxiety, then applaud yourself when you get through with one, or with several. Applauding yourself can be done even if you don’t have others who will applaud you. It’s as simple as saying, “You did the thing! Great job! You’re clear of that one! You rocked it like a boss!” Yes, it’s okay to say things like this to yourself. It’s EXTRA okay to say things like this to yourself if no one else says them to you!
Sounds hokey? Why? We did this as children! “Mom! I can ride a bike!” “Dad! I swam in the big pool today!” We just didn’t know that others didn’t see the things we did as such small things. That part of our brain that dismisses our achievements based on the “value” we think others give them, that’s what we need to silence.
Now, how do you teach friends to do it? It’s easy, because it’s contagious! Thanks to our social expectations that if person A says or does something nice, person B should also do so, all you have to do is start applauding your friends.
Friend: “I finally went to the store and returned that ugly shirt. Ugh. I hate the mall.”
You: “I know how much you hate it. Great job though, really, just getting it over with and not having it hanging over you anymore!”
Make sure you’re sincere and your friends will begin doing this when you handle something difficult. It won’t always be little things that are hard to do either. My friends backed me up when I applauded myself for leaving a relationship that had become unhealthy.
The neat thing about applauding yourself is that it also builds on what we talked about last Monday, about being enough. It teaches you, one small bit at a time, to appreciate your power to do things. It doesn’t matter if you do something tiny. Some days, when you have depression, anxiety, ptsd, or any other mental health troubles, cheering yourself for “I got out of bed and drank water today” is absolutely valid!
Did you take a walk down to the mailbox after spending days avoiding the outdoors? SWEET! See anything interesting? How was it?
Did you eat a healthy meal? Awesome! What did you have? (Be ready with recipes because I may want them!)
Did you call a friend you haven’t visited and are low-key avoiding because you feel bad for being out of touch? Awesome! I bet they were excited to hear from you again! Are you making plans to hang out? Even better! I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun!
See how that works? The responses to the questions are what your mind will eventually begin to feed back to you, and what you should be getting from the people closest to you.
Now give yourself a HUGE cheer, for anything you’ve accomplished in the past day, no matter how small you think anyone else will think it is. Then look for the next opportunity to cheer yourself on!