By Brit BarkholtzNovember 17, 2014

If I asked you what has been your biggest accomplishment in life, it might be difficult for you to decide. Perhaps it’s difficult because, over the course of your life, you’ve had several accomplishments and you aren’t sure which is the most significant. Perhaps it’s difficult because you aren’t sure what qualifies as an accomplishment. And if I narrow the scope of the question, it gets even harder: What has been your biggest accomplishment this year? This month? This week? What has been your biggest accomplishment today? Now you might really be stumped – “Have I accomplished anything today?”

Most people tend to think of accomplishments as the things we see celebrated in the paper or on TV: a wedding, a graduation, the birth of a child, or a new business venture. You know the things I’m talking about. And it’s true; those are wonderful achievements, things to truly celebrate. 

Now let me tell you about some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of today: getting out of bed. Eating lunch. Telling a friend how I feel about something. Letting someone help me. Accepting a compliment. 

Are you confused? Those may seem like little things to you, like odd things to be proud of. But the truth is this: Sometimes the little things are big things. 

You might not think that the “little” things in your life are a big deal. But if you are depressed and you got out of bed today: Congratulations! If you have a hard time reaching out and you talked to someone today: Congratulations! If you struggle with self-injury but made a different choice today: Congratulations! If you made a choice of self-care today: Congratulations! 

If you are alive today: Congratulations! 

You do not need to wait for a major milestone in your life to take pride in what you’ve accomplished. Celebrate those seemingly small victories as the big victories they truly are. It’s all too easy to get weighed down by the burdens we carry and the pain in our hearts. It’s all too easy to think we have nothing to celebrate. It’s all too easy to think that you are worthless, that you don’t do anything right – but you do. 

If you’ve been feeling down about yourself lately (or even if you haven’t), I have a challenge for you. Take a couple of minutes and jot down a few things you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing recently. They can be as “little” or as “big” as you like. Just remember: All of these things are big.

If this is your first time thinking about your progress this way, you may still not feel very proud of yourself for your accomplishments. Often, when we get stuck in these patterns of self-hate, it’s difficult to see things as accomplishments even when they are pointed out to us. It might be helpful to ask a friend or family member to help you think of the first few things. Even then, you may not fully believe them. That’s OK. I still sometimes struggle to believe the things on my own list. 

But write them down anyway. Put them somewhere you’ll continue to see them, maybe on your fridge or in a notebook you use often. Keep the list with you and look at it every once in a while as you go about your week. Add to it, too. 

Even if you aren’t 100 percent convinced, the more that you see that list, the more you congratulate yourself on those things, the easier it will be to believe them. Repeat this pattern as you go about your days, recognizing even the smallest steps you’ve taken, acknowledging them, and congratulating yourself for taking them. Turn it into a habit: recognize, acknowledge, congratulate. It will not only help you feel better about yourself on a day-to-day basis, but then you will also have that list for the bad days. On the days when nothing about you feels right or when you’re feeling worthless or hopeless, you will have that list as a reminder of all the things you’ve done.

You’ve already done so much. And you will continue to do so much more. 

You are here. You are living and breathing and facing each day. You are alive. 

You are you – and that is enough. 


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Comments (8)

  1. Sara

    Not only have I cooked, but I have kept the sink free of dirty dishes for 5 days straight!

    Reply  |  
  2. Leonie

    Right now you can add another thing to your list. It is a beautiful blog! Well written!
    At the moment, I’m trying to make a list for myself, but it’s harder than I thought it will be. Anyways, in the end I will get somewhere!

    Reply  |  
  3. Louise

    I am proud that I’m learning to accept and recover. And that relapse is part of recovery. I am proud for getting up today and fighting the urge to self-harm , that makes it 4 days now. Thank you for this post its a reminder that the little things make up the big things.

    Reply  |  
  4. Anonymous

    I didn’t drink today 🙂 even tho all I wanted was to pick up a bottle

    Reply  |  
  5. Robyn C.

    This hits right at the heart of it. There are definitely days where getting out of bed is a herculean effort – and I should be proud to have done it. Thank you for making me feel less alone.

    Reply  |  
  6. hrindfleisch

    Today I got out of bed. I attended class. I smiled. I didn’t let my thoughts win & spiral me down into darkness. I WON. Thanks for reminding me.

    Reply  |  
  7. Gracie

    this week – and especially today – my accomplishment – my feat – is what i have NOT done rather than some big fancy thing… like the article said. i have NOT done any of the things i have urge to do… whereby i am still alive and unharmed. one breath at a time, i am non-accomplishing my way back to being glad to be alive. thanks for listening.

    Reply  |  
  8. Shannon

    I cried for ten minutes after reading that phrase. At first it was out of sadness, but it quickly turned into joy as the words sank in. I am alive today and I could not be any more proud.

    Reply  |  
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