Everything seems like a struggle these days. Good Lord, just logging into Facebook means that you’ll be barraged with political posts, news of hate crimes, Russia, how much someone is upset over someone else’s opinions, etc. I get it. There are some times that I have to stay away from social media because, ugh…
But, sometimes there’s a win. Sometimes there’s no fight and there’s just time to celebrate.
If we’re in the habit of fighting all the time, though, how do we celebrate a win?
Let me give you a story as an example:
While in Key West recently – my favorite place in the world to be, besides home – a friend asked how one could be fabulous and gay in the city.
The simple answer? You just have to be there (and be gay). In Key West, being gay, straight, queer, or whatever is simply a-ok! It’s one the of things I love about it. Living in North Texas, albeit right outside a liberal college town, there’s much more fight still to be had. In Key West, haven for people of all walks of life and all identities, being gay or straight is just one part of your personality and doesn’t require you to fight for your space or right to exist.
After all, it’s the home of Tennessee Williams, James Merrill, and so many more interesting, artistic, and Avant-Garde personalities! Let’s put it this way: When talking with locals, I hear the word “partner” more often than I hear the words “husband” or “wife.”
In Key West, the motto is One Human Family, a sentiment and way of life coined by James Thompson, an HIV-positive activist, organizer, and designer. You can read more here: http://www.onehumanfamily.info/
There’s also a great post on Advocate by David Artavia that discusses the inclusivity of the island that you can read here because my post isn’t about how awesome Key West is, but about taking the victory.
You see, my friend couldn’t understand how to operate in a new space where people will high-five you for kissing your same-sex partner just as soon as they’ll say “aww” when they see a cute dog on a sunny patio.
The win was very hard to accept.
Pattern Interrupts Can Throw You For A Loop
Disrupting a thought pattern is one of the hardest things you may ever do. But it can become easier if you take a step back, take some time to look at the situation, and be ok with winning.
You see, there are so many people who are so busy fighting that a win seems unsatisfying. Here’s another story:
I know a guy – we used to be friends on Facebook, but I just can’t deal with the negativity – who prefers the fight over his political views more than being right or even keeping positive human relationships. We still have several mutual friends, so I see his posts every once in a while. He has the hardest time when someone of the opposite political views agrees with something he says. He simply can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that he “won” that argument.
The Brain Loves Patterns
It’s fascinating, really: The brain loves patterns and predictable experiences. When a “win,” regardless of form, interrupts what the brain has predicted will happen, it interrupts the pattern and throws things out of whack.
But really, I think the harder part is that people who fight all the time – no matter what they’re fighting for – have become so emotionally wrapped up in the fight that when there’s a win, they simply don’t know what to do with themselves.
It’s important to give yourself a break from your fight now and then. When you are in the habit of disconnecting occasionally, you’ll be able to recognize the win easier. Even soldiers on the battlefield have to take a nap now and then. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Celebrate Other People’s Wins
Want to be able to recognize your wins? Start looking at the people around you. Who just landed a new job? Who lost three pounds this month? Who is holding fast to their water challenge? Who is celebrating a good day in the midst of their struggle with depression? When you actively LOOK for wins in other people’s lives, you can see them in yours.
Yes, I’m sure you’re shocked I’m talking about gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the easiest ways to practice gratitude but take it a step further. When you write down what you’re grateful for, also write down two or three facts as evidence so you can really start to believe it. For example, if I were to write down that I’m grateful for my friends, I’d also write down how _____ is always there when I need to talk; how ______ lifts me up; how ______ makes me laugh; etc.
Give Yourself Permission
Maybe most importantly, give yourself the chance to celebrate. Give yourself permission to let loose, celebrate the win, enjoy the moment, and refill your engines.
Fighting for social justice, equality, the right thing, or even an A on an exam isn’t a 24/7 job. You’ve got to take care of yourself and experience the positives with the struggle, or else you won’t make it.
Remember, changing the world for the better is a long game – steady progress is essential. Take care of you, babe!