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  • Writer's pictureHollie

Keeping the Receipts

It’s amazing to look back at the last 20 years or so to see how much technology has changed our society in terms of how we communicate and interact with each other. No longer do we pick up the phone to call a friend. Now, we text and wait for the 3 blinking dots to appear beside their names. No longer can we find a potential partner in a cafe or at a community event. Now, we browse the meat market that is dating apps and play the numbers game. We post forced smiles and the highlights of life, and we feel validated by the number of interactions we get from an audience who we may or may not really know.  We constantly evaluate ourselves in terms of likes, comments, and swipes.


Considering the curated digital environment we now have to navigate, it’s no wonder that people today are struggling. This constant bombardment of idealised images and narratives can set unrealistic benchmarks for personal achievement, appearance, and lifestyle, which can then lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. We often measure ourselves in terms of whether we believe we are as worthy, successful, attractive, loveable, or intelligent as the next person (or our perception of them anyways). The rise of social media has just made that process a lot more efficient, as if the value of our lives can be quickly estimated by their KPIs. When how we feel about ourselves is completely contingent on what others think of us, it can be dangerous to our sense of self and impact our self-esteem. 


So, how can we maintain a healthy sense of self in the face of perfectionist ideals that tend to sweep the messiness of being human under the rug and out of sight? How can we learn to create a more positive, compassionate, and balanced view of ourselves - one that is less self-critical, and more genuine? I think one way, at least, is by living our values and keeping the receipts. 

 

Our values act as a compass that guides our behaviour, decisions, and priorities. They are the essence of who we aspire to be and what we stand for. When our actions are in harmony with these values, it builds integrity and self-trust. We also feel good about ourselves, not because someone else praised or congratulated us (or followed us on Instagram), but because we followed through on the things we agreed to do and the promises we made. However, our brains have a negativity bias and tend to forget or dismiss the good we do. Sometimes we need reminders.


Keeping the receipts means that you document actions or behaviours that have aligned with your values. It could be as simple as keeping a memo in your phone, a post-it note, a journal entry, or a check mark on a calendar. Regardless of method, it’s an affirmation that says “I did what I said I would” or “This situation was really tricky, but I acted with integrity” or “I tried my best”. These notes to yourself serve as an acknowledgement of your efforts, and provide tangible evidence of your commitment to living an authentic life. They also act as a reminder of your capabilities and resilience, especially during times of self-doubt and external criticism. 


Over time, this practice can cultivate a profound sense of self-trust. Seeing the accumulation of actions that reflect your deepest values is incredibly affirming. It shifts the focus from external validation to internal satisfaction - from what others think, to how you view yourself. It also creates a kind of self-validation loop that encourages more value-aligned actions, creating a positive cycle of self-improvement and self-respect. You start to view yourself not as someone striving to be worthy, but as someone who already is, based on your actions.

And, next time your inner-critic comes out, they won’t have a foot to stand on. You’ll be ready with a stack of undeniable proof that you are who you say you are. That’s powerful.


 

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