Be your own cheerleader!

Last night there was a monumental event in our home. My daughter, ate something she had never tried before. This might be a regular event at your place, or you may also have the challenge of a fussy eater who balks at the sight of anything squishy, green or jiggly. I understand completely, I have yet to get over my fear of beetroot.

The best part was, just as I was videoing the attempt, with her sister and I encouraging her, I heard her say to herself “I’ve got this!” before she popped the spaghetti bolognaise into her mouth and swallowed.

I was there waiting with the spittoon, a little bowl in case she spat it back out. I was prepared.  The half chewed morsel often goes back onto the plate, meaning no one will touch it. She is sensitive. For her, some foods can be too slippery, soggy or like tuna, too smelly. Every day I throw out food, (and yes every time, I think of the poor children in Africa). Eating one meal as a family doesn’t really happen for us. So this was a major celebration with cheering and high fives all round. Now we can all eat spaghetti bolognaise, which is brilliant, as it’s close to the only thing I can make. I have tried sternly suggesting she eat other meals, but she is stubborn, she would rather not eat at all. Then, I feel like a terrible parent. I have offered money, bribes and chocolate with little result. I filmed this moment as her father was stuck in a meeting and I knew he would be impressed if she could eat a family staple.

Later, she told me that it wasn’t as good as we were all making out. It wasn’t my best effort, I agree. I told her next time if we are all lucky, Daddy might make it. She was pleased.

I think the only reason she managed to eat it was because she cheered herself on, psyched herself up and completely backed herself, to have the courage to face it. Mind you, it’s not mince she has a problem with as she manages to smash a cheeseburger in under a minute. It has become more of a habit now, to stay with the familiar, the known, the safe. Safe is fairly limited to mac and cheese, homemade pizza, bacon or fish, the occasional carrot, yogurt, an apple, a cucumber.

I’m thrilled she is now stepping out, supporting herself and becoming her own cheerleader. I love the phrase “You’ve got this!” I love hearing it from people who are cheering me on, I like saying it quietly to myself when I have to drive along a highway in a semi-trailer sandwich, or make a difficult phone call or face a work challenge. I love how we can be our own cheerleaders.

I think about my personal cheer squad, I can see them in my head, my close friends who say things like this to me all the time. Even though sometimes I shrug it off or it’s hard to believe, these are the words I say to myself as well. “You are awesome!” “I believe in you!” and “ You’ve got this!” These words are the words I say to my friends, or text, or iMessage. I have a local and international cheer squad I call on. Everyone needs a cheer squad. There are moments when I have to talk myself up, when I am anxious, catastrophising, or I am afraid. The moment when I feel like it would be easier to chicken out and do nothing instead.

Yesterday, I emailed a manager I worked with over a decade ago. I was hoping he might have some insight into a business idea I had. He replied to the email with his mobile number and suggested I call to discuss. Immediately I was nervous and felt like I was about 10 years old. It took enough courage for me to email him and I was sort of hoping he would email me back. I prefer email as I feel more in control. It gives me time to format my thoughts. I can delete things, use a more impressive word after I read it over, and not get all verbally jumbled up.

With the phone, I am unpredictable. Words just come out of my mouth. I left a garbled message like “Oh hi, it’s me – Rachel Wilkinson, well Britton, that was my name last time, so, alright, I’m just calling to talk about the thing we emailed about and um, if you can call me back, we can talk some more, about the idea I had, about the thing, this is my number, which you probably already have because I’m calling from it (maniac laughter) and um. Right – speak soon.” Then I said my name, like it was an email.  So I felt even more of an idiot. So many times, I wish I could erase my voicemail messages. I was walking around the kitchen berating myself, feeling inadequate, thinking about what he might think, when he called. I took a moment, looking at his name which I had added to my phone not five minutes ago. I breathed, and said to myself “You’ve got this” and took the call. I knew if I didn’t take the call, I would miss out on his wisdom and experience.

“Who is this?” he said, after I greeted him, my imaginary cheer leaders gathering into formation in the back ground. I told him and he said “ I never check my voice messages.”  Relief swamped me. We spoke about the idea, he told me it had merit, then said he was about to walk into a long meeting and he would call me in a few days. More relief.  Cheer squad starts to shake around their pom poms. He doesn’t know what a dickhead I am.

Then I realised I am my own worst enemy. I understood, that as much as I talk myself up when I need to, I am very quick to talk myself down at every other opportunity. I know every time I am thrashing out the last two minutes on the tread-mill, I am saying  things like “You’ve got this, you can do it, just 120 seconds now.” I am also the one lying in bed saying “ Ah screw exercise, who has energy for that stuff, I need sleep.”  I am a pretty good critic as well. I can now see I am the other team booing and hissing, I am not on my own team at all.

So today – I am imagining my cheer leaders, my brave friend in Canada facing her own trials every day, my sister in Minnesota and another in London who support me and cheer me on, my own family, and my adopted family. I am lining them up into formation, I am dressing them in red, white and blue cheer-leader outfits and getting them to pyramid for me. It’s those I am calling on every day in my mind, not the critics, not the 10 year old me. I will stand at the front and start the call “ Give me a Y” because we all need to tell ourselves, “You’ve got this!” Even if  you are on the treadmill, facing a big challenge or hovering over a plateful of slimy greens.  You are brave. You are awesome. You’ve got this.

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