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Yay Me!

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

My son, who will be two years old in May, has become quite self-congratulatory. The other morning he woke up singing the “ABC” song, and it went something like this:  “Ah-B-C-C-B-D-A-Eh-Eh-Eh……    YAY DYLAN!!!!”

“Yay Dylan!” can often be heard around our house these days. If he throws something away in the trash or chases his sister or cleans up a mess or figures out how to do anything on his own, you can bet he will celebrate that with a “YAY DYLAN!” or, at the very least, an “I DID IT!”

My husband and I were laughing about it, and thinking that we could probably all take a cue from his actions. Why wait for someone else to praise you? Did you finish a report? Do the dishes? Build a shelf? Run the vacuum? Find a solution?  Well, why not take a moment to throw up your hands with a hearty “YAY (insert your name here)!”

Now, while a robust and vocal congratulatory self shout-out might make others turn their heads and keep a safe distance, I do think there is something to this. How often do we wait to get our worth handed to us by someone else—a boss, a spouse, a friend?     The need for external validation is so powerful that sometimes it feels like something isn’t good until someone else says it’s so. When I look at that through the eyes of my almost-two year old, who proudly marches around the house declaring himself AWESOME at every turn, I think he’s the one that’s got it right.

The other interesting thing about it is, because my son finds it so fun to congratulate himself on every super cool thing he does, he also loves to congratulate all the rest of us. If he catches any of us doing something neat, the sounds of “YAY, MOMMY!” “YAY, DADDY!” or “YAY, MARLOWE!” are also just as likely to ring through the house.

It’s like the book The Pig of Happiness, where one pig just decided to be happy, and his happiness got so big that he couldn’t contain it so it burst out of him and spread to the other pigs, and then their happiness got so big it spread to the other animals in the farm. Genuine love for self, which is what I see in Dylan and his delight in learning, discovering, and doing new things, is different from arrogance. Genuine self-love is not restrictive; rather, it’s expansive.

So go on, get to loving yourself. Don’t wait for others to tell you you’re “good.” I bet what you’ll find is that you not only feel better about yourself, but that the world, and the people in it, start to look better too.

Where can you say “YAY ME!” today? 


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.