How to Celebrate the Small Wins

When you acknowledge the weight you’re carrying, every step feels important

In the past year, many of us have had to alter, expand, or completely re-conceptualize the definition of progress to make room for the daily tasks that, one or two years ago, wouldn’t have appeared remotely noteworthy. You watered all of your plants? Congratulations. You finished reading that book you bought in 2016? Huge.

Planning to run a marathon or even organizing a jam-packed social weekend might have once seemed easily in your grasp, but changing realities require adjustments to our capacities. After a long day of working, Zooming, tending to yourself and your loved ones, it might take all of your energy and focus to just take the trash out before going to sleep and starting the day over again.

On top of mounting personal obligations and goals, there are a plethora of social issues that, on any given day, feel utterly disempowering and hopeless. Despite the easing back of Covid restrictions, we’re still in a global pandemic, confronting escalating anti-Blackness and anti-Asian racism, continuing to witness police brutality in HD, and facing a crisis of human rights at the border.

With so much darkness and suffering in the world, it may seem futile to celebrate something as small as making dinner on a day you would normally order out or celebrating the fact that you responded to every email in your inbox. In the grand scheme of progress that needs to be made, sometimes these small wins feel more like small potatoes.

But in my quest toward healing and affirming my humanity, I’m learning to strengthen my ability to hold multiple truths at once. When I grant myself permission to sit with the heaviness of present times and its effect on my capacity, I create space to celebrate any small steps toward creating a collective future that feels less burdensome and more hopeful.

This delicate dialectic — according to the radical healing framework for people of color and Indigenous individuals created by Drs. French, Lewis, Mosley, Adames, Chavez-Dueñas, Chen, and Neville — highlights the value of sitting with the “acknowledgement and active resistance of oppression” while remaining open to the possibilities of a future fusing justice and well-being.

One of my key takeaways from this framework is the audaciousness of radical hope, one of five key components to radical healing (i.e., collectivism, critical consciousness, radical hope, strength and resistance, and cultural authenticity and self-knowledge). Each time I take any step forward, no matter the magnitude, I move toward something that I have to believe is bigger than myself and any present darkness. That hope allows me to make meaning of my progress and instills faith that these small wins become something greater. It’s important that I celebrate these small steps so that I can motivate myself to show up every day and take another.

So maybe all you could muster up today was enough strength to return a few calls or write in your journal for the first time in weeks. Know that this movement — any movement — is important progress toward building a future for yourself and others that feels substantially lighter and more expansive.

The world is on fire. Yet you still found a reason to wake up and take strides forward. Those small wins feel much larger and more meaningful when you acknowledge the weight of everything you and the entire collective are carrying.

Black woman, mental health counselor, researcher, wellness consultant, PhD in counseling psychology, and Beyoncé stan. IG: black_and_woman_IG

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