I brag that I'm celebrating so much.
Because the truth is that my brain has spent a lot of my life being really cruel.
I want you to think about this for a second. How many times a day do you list all of the things that are wrong with you?
Do you look in the mirror and point out what you see as flaws, maybe cellulite, or your belly after having kids, or your thighs? Or a new hair that popped up on your cheek?
How many times a day do you think about what you did wrong?
I should have said that in the meeting. Ah, why didn't I let him do that? Oh, why didn't I pick up the milk when I was supposed to?
Or do you get down on yourself? You could be a better mother, a better wife, a better worker, a better coworker, a better client, a better manager… Blah, blah, blah.
The fact is that women are twice as likely to be depressed as men. One of the reasons that more women are depressed than men is that women ruminate more.
Rumination, if you're a you're a cow or a goat, is that you chew your food a lot. It's already chewed up, and it comes back up for you to chew again — as gross as that might be! The partly digested food comes back up and you chew it some more.
We also ruminate as humans — not with our food, but in our mind. This means that we think about something over and over and over again. You chew on it and you chew on it. And even after you're done with it, it comes back the next day and the next day. Women ruminate more and ruminate on the negative.
My dear friend Allison and I used to call it beating a dead horse. She and I would sit at Panera Bread for like six hours, and we would take a situation and we would beat it to death just reliving it over and over. We would ruminate. Just think about how much time we would spend on hashing out a negative situation!
Most of my family and close friends have always said that I was a master at beating myself up, that I could beat myself up better than anyone in the whole world. Our brains love to tell us everything that we did wrong, everything we could have and should have done differently.
THE SCIENCE OF OUR HABITS
This madness of thinking that there's something wrong with us has to end. And no one's going to end it for us. How are you ever going to live your purpose, get your book out in the world, if you're sitting there constantly telling yourself what's wrong with you, and that you have no business writing a book, and that nobody wants to hear you? How are you ever going to start that daycare that kids need, if you're constantly saying you shouldn't charge money because it's doing good and it's your purpose? And really, you shouldn't ask for that much money, and you're probably not worth it, or whatever else.
This beating ourselves up has got to stop.
Here's what we know from the research about habits. There's an amazing book by Charles Duhigg, about habits called The Power of Habit, where could read more about this. What we know is that it's a lot harder to just stop a habit than it is to create a new one. And this is because of neuroscience and how your brain works.
When you're born you have 600 billion neurons, or brain cells. They're kind of just like fresh and waiting to do something, to learn something, to experience something. And before you're even born, the brain is starting to make connections because the brain hears the mother's voice all the time. Some of the brain connections help the whole brain and body and nervous system feel safe when Mom is speaking because that's the voice that they hear all the time.
When a baby is born, there's a mostly fresh brain ready to absorb and soak up and learn information. And the brain can't possibly remember everything that it needs to remember, so the more the brain experiences something, or sees or witnesses or hears or thinks something, the more it creates very strong neural connections.
It builds those connections so that the brain can more easily remember something, and therefore make more space to learn something new.
So here's how it works. When my sweet baby boy was born, he had no idea what a car was. He went home in one when we could take him home from the hospital, but he didn't know what it was. However, throughout the early months of his life, he heard us say car a number of times, or that we're going into the car. Now, we don't talk about our car all that frequently, but his brain heard it enough to know that an object with wheels is a car. And so when it was time for him to start speaking words, his first word was mama. His second word was car.
His brain is doing him a favor, by knowing that that's a car, because it now doesn't have to think about what that object is with wheels every time he sees it. His brain just knows, “Oh, that's a car.” And that opens up room for him to learn something else.
So we build connections between neurons around the things that we think we have to know the most. Therefore, the more you see something, the more you learn it. The first time you looked at geometry you didn't know much about it, but by the end of a year of studying geometry in high school, it was much more familiar (even if you don't remember it anymore).
This is how the brain learns.
Why do I share all of that with you when I'm trying to talk about celebrating yourself and not being mean to yourself and bragging? Because if your brain has repeated over and over and over again that you are fat, then, of course, every time you look in the mirror, that's all you'll see.
Because your brain has a super quick highway to it. If your brain has repeated over and over again that you're not good enough, then that is what you'll believe. And now this is really like a habit that we don't even think about.
FORMING A NEW HABIT
But sister, what if you had a different habit? What if your habit was self-celebration? What if your habit was being proud of yourself? What if it was focusing on what you did right instead of what you did wrong? Now, this is revolutionary and scary for most of us, because if you're anything like me, you learned that bragging was not attractive, that women shouldn't brag, that it's not nice to talk so well of yourself. You might make someone else feel bad.
We all know that women make less money than men. One of the reasons is that men talk better about themselves, men talk about the wins that they had, they share the note that they got from their customer about how awesome they are. And even if you find it repulsive and annoying, it works.
So when I go into companies, and I've done this at many companies from Ernst and Young to Alcoa to Amazon, I talk to women about bragging and celebrating themselves.
And I will tell you, Sister, it's confronting, it's scary. For may it's so uncomfortable.
And it will set you free.
Women haven't had safe places to celebrate and brag. When we've wanted to share something exciting, someone probably thought we were full of ourselves or arrogant, and so we probably stayed quiet.
But I want to ask you, what about when you were two? Or three or four? What were you like then? I'm just gonna be honest: I was a ham. I was like, “I'm so awesome. Look at me. I'm so cute. Look at what I'm doing now!” And I would dance and I would twirl and I totally thought I would end up on stage one day singing and dancing.
Now there were other people in my life, even as a little girl, that I was afraid to be a superstar in front of. I was afraid to be a superstar at school when I started seeing that other girls could dance better than I could. In fact, I dropped out of ice skating when I was about eight even though I loved it, because I saw the other girls were better. I was afraid to brag and boast about myself in front of my older sister and my older brother.
Many things in life have been beaten out of us. Maybe it was your older sibling thinking that you were annoying. One of my clients had a teacher that told her she was being too loud. Her second-grade teacher told her she was too loud, and kicked her out of class so many times that she decided that the only way for her to be okay in life was to just totally be quiet. She went on to become an accountant, and then, 15-20 years into her career, she realized she was miserable.
And so here we are trying to be nice girls by not speaking about ourselves because we might make another girl feel bad. Here we are trying to go with the rules, right? The teacher wants us to be quiet and nice. Girls don't speak up. All that BS. Here we are wanting to look good, so what we start doing is taking all of that energy that could be used to celebrate ourselves and instead focus it on all that's wrong with us.
Have you ever noticed that when women get together, the woman who is the meanest to herself is often the most popular? The woman who hates her thighs is funny. The woman who hates her husband is relatable. The woman who hates her life gets the most airtime. We do this as women, we vent and listen. Now, there is a place for venting, but among my closest friends, we spend the majority of our time celebrating ourselves and each other. And then leaning in when we are in the shit.
And saying, “Hold me, witness me here.” Which we do. We swamp. We say, “Sister, I'm in that mud with you. That sucks. I'm so sorry.” But then we don't keep going. We say, “I see you and I know you're strong. And I know you're capable. How can I help? What can we do? We got you.”
What would happen if we started celebrating ourselves?
What would happen if you started to say, “You know what, I actually kind of do like my thighs. And you know what? I think my lips are pretty. And you know what? I like my hair.” What would start to happen if you were like, “You know what, that dream I have of writing a book — I'm gonna rock it!”
What I want is for every woman to show up BIG. The answer is not to hold back and not to play small but rather to have a safe place to practice bragging and celebrating ourselves.
That is what I love creating and providing. That is why I have Bragapalooza every Friday in the PurposeGirls Facebook group.
A no strings attached place for women to brag about everything.
And I've taught the women in my group to use the words “I brag” or “I celebrate,” or to use the words “I'm proud of.” It really doesn't matter to me. Try them all on and feel which feels good, or maybe different words feel good in different situations at different times.
Sister, you need to be proud of yourself for everything, because no one else is going to do it for you. We have to actually do it for ourselves. We have to create the new habit. I shared with you the neuroscience because I want you to create a habit of looking in the mirror and saying, “I'm beautiful. I love you, child.” And remembering that inside of you is that two-year-old before you were harmed by people in this world. Go be part of the movement and join PurposeGirls: The Women’s Happiness Network. This is a feminine purpose revolution we're on and I can't wait to celebrate you!