Column: Aspire Unplugged, by Cheryl Patterson
“Self-respect, self-worth and self-love, all start with self. Stop looking outside of yourself for your value.” – Rob Liano
What would you say if I were to ask you what you loved about yourself? Would you feel tongue-tied and at a loss for words, or be able to easily list some things? Although most of us would prefer to be on the latter end of the spectrum, it’s not an easy feat for everyone.
For many of us, it takes half a lifetime to come into our own, finally shedding the insecurities and cares about what others think, and learning to accept and love ourselves as we are. But it doesn’t have to take that long. Just as we can have high regard for others, we can nurture it in ourselves, once we determine what it means for us.
Self-love is often confused with areas such as self-esteem, worth, respect, acceptance and image. Probably because they are all important elements to loving ourselves – they all contribute to positive personal regard and contentment.
For instance, when we love ourselves, we make sure we’re treated respectfully and are valued (by ourselves and others), we set boundaries in support of our esteem and worth, accept our great and not-so-great parts and have a positive self-image.
However, no two people are alike. We each have our own areas we struggle with. For one person, loving themselves more might mean less pressure for perfection and greater acceptance, and for another it may mean being more selective about the kind of people they have relationships with, and so on. So, the following are tips to help you nurture the area/s that are impacting you, to help you on your path to greater self-love.
- Identify strengths – things you’re good at – and use them more often and in creative new ways.
- Focus on your accomplishments. High self-esteem comes from being proud of one’s achievements – no matter the size – not from self-criticism. Acknowledging your achievements helps you realize you can accomplish things, which inspires you to do more and increases your confidence and success.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”- Vincent Van Gogh
- Dispute negative thoughts. Instead of being hard on yourself when something doesn’t work out, remember there are variety of factors that can cause a situation to fail, including time, energy, other people and external circumstances.
- Persevere in spite of shortcomings. Think of challenges you’ve risen above in the past, and been successful at, and have faith – in yourself – that you can do it again.
- If you’re in any situation that you suspect isn’t supporting positive feelings about yourself, take a moment to check your self-worth. Where is it on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being excellent)? And ask yourself, “Do I feel good about myself when I’m in this situation, or not?” You’ll get your answer instantly. All you have to do is trust and listen to it, and strive for more supportive situations.
- Fake-it-till-you-make-it. Sometimes it can be hard to get out of our own head and change our thinking patterns. The good news is that research supports the theory that we can behave our way through it. According to happiness researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, behaviors associated with particular emotions, intensifies that emotion. Get in the practice of creating changes in support of greater self-worth.
- Challenge what you find difficult to accept about yourself by putting yourself in situations that support them.
- Change self-criticism to self-compassion, with kindness and appreciation for your efforts. Self-acceptance is unconditional, much like love. And it’s tied to how you look at yourself, not to things you do.
- How do you see yourself, positively or negatively? If your descriptions about yourself highlight characteristics you like, you have a positive self-image. However, if you’re focused on your flaws and describe yourself more critically than kind, it’s time to start viewing yourself in more positive ways. Create a kinder self-description. Just like when we say kind things about others, it makes them feel good about themselves…it does the same for us.
- A person that respects themselves has standards regarding how they want to be treated. Some people might say the way they practice self-respect is by not allowing others to ‘walk all over’ or take advantage of them. Assertiveness is essential here, and can be practiced in small ways, such as setting realistic limits about what you can give of yourself to others and in your daily endeavours.
- One of the strongest ways to send a message to anyone about how you want to be treated is to treat yourself well – to value yourself enough to make positive efforts and choices on your own behalf. Caring about your needs sends the message that they`re important.
- One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and that has an impact on all of these areas above, is to surround yourself with positive, kind and supportive people that will value you for the special person that you are.
Self-love is more than just saying you love yourself; it’s about self-care – taking a glimpse at some of those needs that may have been neglected or dormant a while. “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi, thirteenth century Sufi poet