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Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

Looking within ourselves is not often second nature to us. When we’re young, we get into the habit of looking to our parents and peers for recognition in order to validate ourselves – it’s how we tend to learn about the world around us and our place within it.

In our structured school systems, we’re used to waiting for a teacher’s approval and recognition and rarely learn to actually recognize ourselves. Doing this often led to accusations of arrogance rather than self-empowerment.

Our Culture Teaches Us to Focus On Our Weaknesses

It’s this early structure in our culture that limits our sense of discovery about our inner selves. But it also transcends throughout our lives through our general mindsets on self-improvement.

When we talk about improving ourselves, it tends to come from a space of lack.  We sense we’re not doing something right or we’re heading down the wrong life path and it’s usually in these circumstances that we feel the need to improve the flaws that have taken us there.

When we ask for feedback, more often than not it’s our flaws and what’s not good enough that’s highlighted rather than what we did well. The danger of this comes when our strengths aren’t celebrated and instead neglected in a way that is never developed into great ones.

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What Recognition Does to Our Brains

Recognition from others can be important but not when it’s your only source. Recognizing our own achievements and strengths is much more powerful than any outside validation.

Studies show writing down and recognizing our accomplishments, no matter how small, actually creates activity in the reward circuitry of our brains. Dopamine, along with other key chemicals, is released causing us a sense of energy around our achievements and allows us to get that feel-good factor.

This is why waiting for recognition from others can be futile. It may seem positive to get that feedback and validation from other people but when it doesn’t ultimately come from within, it can wear off easily. When we do well, often we’re the first to notice and we can overestimate how much others care about our accomplishments. This is why you shouldn’t wait for recognition but instead feel the power of recognizing yourself.

How To Recognize Your Own Achievements and Gain Empowerment

Write Down 3 Small Achievements Each Day

We can go through our whole day and assume we haven’t achieved anything but this is never the case. Even the smallest things such as meeting a new person, walking 10 minutes more than usual or helping a stranger should be considered accomplishments and celebrated.

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Writing down at least 3 small achievements each day can get us noticing that we do achieve more than we think. And it’s the collection of these small achievements that add up to the huge successes.

J.K Rowling spent many years achieving small tasks before she became hugely successful. Persevering with writing every day with the odds seemingly piled against her would have been extremely hard with no outside validation and constant rejection from publishers. Instead, she took note of how well she did every day and how much closer she was getting to accomplishing her goal.

For Every Weakness, Write Down a Similar Strength

We can easily focus on our weaknesses but a good strategy is to counteract any weakness with a strength. In other words, putting a positive spin on something seemingly negative. This helps you see the glass half full and see strengths that you haven’t necessarily recognized.

If you’re an over-thinker, write next to it that you’re detailed-minded. Being a perfectionist means you take pride in attention to detail. Having a tendency to be over-eager means you’re passionate.

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Writing these down enables you to see things from a different perspective and you’ll recognize not to dwell on weaknesses as completely negative.

Don’t Play the Comparison Game

We are all victims of comparing our lives to the success of others. But this causes us to focus from a space of lack and stops us from seeing what we do have going for us.

We have to remember that everyone is on their own path and at their own pace. Most of the time we only see a small fraction of someone’s life so it’s futile to believe someone is ultimately doing ‘better’ than us. Social media presents us with this constant opportunity to see a small window into others’ lives but be aware that feelings of envy are pointless and diminishes our sense of achievement. Don’t get sucked into the comparison game.

Keep Listening But Remain Detached

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The modern world has a competitive nature about her. We feel we need to be the best, and to do so, struggle and strive to be better – but at the cost of what? The feedback we get tends to focus on the negative but the key is to be able to filter out the helpful from the unhelpful.

It’s up to us to decide what is constructive in our growth and what is just unnecessary. Don’t get caught up dwelling on other’s opinions about you but instead accept if it’s something you genuinely want to work and focus on or not. Recognizing this from within rather than relying on outside validation will help you grow much more quickly and in your own way.

So, while being recognized for your achievements will give you a boost, it has the danger of being very conditional to your sense of worth. By learning to celebrate and recognize your accomplishments from within, you will move forward and grow in much better ways than you thought.

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on May 16, 2019

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in America, according to the latest mental health statistics.[1] Approximately 17.3 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode.

In this article, we will take a deep look into depression, what a depression brain is like, and how to prevent the damage from depression.

What is Depression?

In order to tap into treatment options for depression, we must first examine what defines this disorder.

Apart from differing scientific and medical jargon, depression – also known as Major Depressive Disorder – is best categorized as a serious mood disorder.

While it is common, it is anything but innocent. The symptoms of depression have serious effects on daily living, and leave the afflicted person with an inability to carry out normal tasks, such as working, interacting with friends and family, and sleeping.

Depression itself is an umbrella term for a list of specific types of depression, such as Postpartum Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which leads into serious symptoms of depression), Bipolar Disorder, and Psychotic Depression (which is depression with symptoms of psychosis), just to name a few.[2]

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While everyone experiences moments of depression in their life, being clinically diagnosed with depression is usually done with the aid of medical help. This diagnosis typically relies on a baseline of depression symptoms that have been present for at least two weeks.

Symptoms of Depression

Because depression is categorized as a serious mood disorder, most symptoms will begin with a person’s behavior. A person may feel persistent sadness that simply won’t go away, or they may experience a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed, like gardening, traveling, or working out.

Other symptoms, although not a complete list, may persist:

  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Angry outbursts, followed by a complete mood change (from happy to sad in very quick shifts)
  • Struggles with insomnia or significant changes in sleep schedule
  • Inability and lack of desire to get out of bed in the morning
  • Significant decrease in personal hygiene, nutrition, and maintenance of their home or space
  • Decreased interactions with friends, family, or colleagues
  • Lack of energy and physical weakness, apathy, or pains and aches
  • Trouble concentrating on specific tasks or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts about death, or even suicidal plans, thoughts, or attempts
  • Back pain and headaches

While this list is not complete or exhaustive to a person’s struggle with depression, it does provide a general picture of some of the common symptoms.[3])

Causes of Depression

Mental health disorders still very much pose a mystery to medical professionals and science, in general. While depression is treated in a variety of ways (medicine, therapy, alternative healing, etc.), professionals are still learning more about this disorder and how it affects people of different genders, ages, and backgrounds.

However, a variety of factors are known to be possible contributors to depression, such as:

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  • Hormones – in cases of giving birth or going through menopause, women’s hormones quickly change, which can trigger depression or similar symptoms
  • Genes – while not everyone gets depression from inherited traits, it is a factor, and research has seen a correlation between depression in families that is carried through generations
  • Brain chemistry – one of the key factors in understanding cause of depression is brain chemistry, specifically neurotransmitters that work with the neuro-circuits in the brain to balance mood stability. If these neurotransmitters are not working properly, it could lead to depression or similar symptoms

We already mentioned brain chemistry, and how it plays an integral part in understanding how your brain works in relation to mood stability. Neurotransmitters are your body’s chemical messengers. They transmit these messages between neurons for a plethora of reasons – cognitive function, organ function, dopamine release, etc.[4]

In terms of relating this to depression, however, those transmitters also regulate mood stability, and if they’re not relaying messages correctly or connecting to the brain circuitry in normal, functioning ways, we see a correlation between that “misfiring” and mental illness.

To paint a picture, imagine your brain split in half, the two lobes or hemispheres perfectly separated from each other.

Now, imagine the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters like tiny little ping-pong balls that bounce from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, relaying messages that connect the brain as a whole. This is what we normally see in a healthy functioning brain.

However, if there is a change in this chemistry, and the ping-pong balls are not crossing and relaying as they should, that change creates a shift in your brain circuitry that may cause depression or similar symptoms.

Because our brain is an extremely complex and intricate organ which scientists are still studying and learning about, it wouldn’t be complete to say that only chemical imbalances cause depression.

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In fact, recent Harvard research suggests that a slew of factors are involved in creating a correlation between depression and your brain function. These are inclusive of the neurotransmitters we described above, but they also include your way of life, medication, stress levels, and even genetic contributions or ways in which you were brought up.[5]

Because depression is a mood disorder, we have to look at our behavior, and how it is influenced by our brain chemistry.

Behavior is shaped by our temperament, and much of that comes from our genetics. We are predisposed to act in certain social situations in ways that tie us to our family chain.

How we react to life circumstances or other people is very much a reflection of what we picked up from our parents, guardians, friends, or social upbringing. From this, we may make different choices in life, for better or worse, depending on these genetics.

Similarly, our view of the world and our relation to it also have a hand in how depression may form. We create our world view early on in life, and while it is influenced by our family and life events, it’s also very much our own.

If you’ve experienced loss or disappointment, you’re likely to fall back on your world view to cope with it and allow it to protect you. As an example, you may close yourself off from new relationships because you’ve endured heartbreak and don’t believe that you’re worthy of real love; or, you come from an upbringing that wasn’t emotionally available, so you don’t create habit patterns or behaviors that show you how to handle emotion in a healthy way.

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All of these scenarios create behavior. In turn, that behavior creates habit patterns, that in turn, create your daily life and your interaction with it.

While chemical imbalances can have a direct role in manifesting depressive episodes, we have to be aware that our own, inherent behavioral traits are just as powerful contributors.

Medications to re-balance any chemical disruptions in the brain are a proactive tool against depression. These can be explained and provided to you by a medical health professional.

When it comes to our behavior, however, and how we deal with stress, trauma, loss, medical problems, and the like – all of which are triggers for depression – we can implement new habits[6] that can decrease any damage to our state of body and mind, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga or any body-conscious movement or workout
  • Journaling about life events or problems we encounter on a daily basis
  • Therapy or group-sharing
  • Acupuncture, Reiki, or any alternative-healing modality
  • Diet and nutrition rich in foods that cleanse and empower (rather than numb and overpack the gut)
  • Hiking, running, biking, or any cardio-increasing activity
  • Spending time with others who support you

These are habits and tools that you can implement on your own, as well as with a professional. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new regiment.

The Bottom Line

Depression is a disorder that affects our mood. While research has uncovered that depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, it also suggests that our behavior and inherent genetic traits are strongly connected to how depression manifests.

How you deal with the many ups and downs of daily life are strong indicators of where you may want to make changes, whether medicinal or alternative, to decrease your chances of depression and its damage, and embrace a life of health and well-being.

Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Major Depression
[2] National Institute of Mental Health: Depression
[3] Mayo Clinic: Depression (Major Depressive Disorder
[4] Queensland Brain Institute: What are Neurotransmitters
[5] Harvard Health: What Causes Depression?
[6] Help Guide: Coping with Depression

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