How do you appreciate yourself? Or do you? Did you learn that being good to yourself was selfish? If you said 'No' were you bad? If you praised yourself or were praised, were people afraid you might get a 'swelled head'? Most of us get the message loud and clear that praising ourselves or others would lead to 'becoming conceited' or 'slacking off.' The tragedy of this belief is that, in fact, the very opposite is true. What you pay attention to expands. Self-appreciation and appreciation of others is based on love and acceptance. In other words, as I am willing to love me, I am capable of loving you.
Much of what we say and do is called 'constructive criticism.' This means I tell you something supposedly for 'your own good.' What actually happens is that I judge what you do and say based on 'should' then I tell you how to 'do it right.' In other words, criticism is destructive and leads people to feelings of inadequacy: love and acceptance lead to feelings of self-worth. Remember: the most important task you have is loving and accepting yourself.
What is Self-appreciation?
Self is defined as the entire person of an individual while appreciation is defined as a judgement or evaluation; an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude. Self-appreciation is about saying: 'I accept myself exactly as I am.' It is about acknowledging our unique gifts and knowing within each of us is a highly creative, skilled being just waiting for discovery.
Self-appreciation is not about putting others down or thinking yourself better; it is about loving ourselves the way we are and in turn loving others the way they are. Remember: I can only accept and love you if I am willing to love and accept myself and acknowledge my own self-worth.
In the final analysis, as the Dalai Lama states, "The purpose of our lives is to be happy." Happiness in my mind equates with joy. The joy, without which all other joy is diminished, is joy in one's self. Self-pride and self-joy are as vital to the individual as are air and water. Self-appreciation is the cornerstone in determining one's health, one's success, and one's abundance and prosperity in both our public and our private lives.
Practical Steps to Self-appreciation
1. Declare your uniqueness. There will never be another you; another who is exactly like you; another who will make a contribution to the planet in exactly the way that you do.
2. Look for the things you like about yourself. Write them down and then focus on one thing a day, e.g. 'I am competent' or 'I am creative' or 'I am now creating my ideal life.'
3. Forgive yourself. The past is over; know that you were doing the best you could with your level of knowledge and understanding at that time.
4. Use affirmations to remind yourself of your sacredness. Put them on the fridge, mirrors, wherever, to remind yourself that you are unique. For example, 'I like and appreciate myself,' 'I am a loveable, valuable person and deserve the best life has to offer.'
5. Read books that inspire you. Books such as daily meditations, thoughts for the day, sayings and quotations from inspirational leaders set the tone for creating an attitude of joy and/or peace before you start your day.
6. Practice an 'attitude of gratitude.' We have created much to be thankful for, our health, our abundance, and our freedoms. Carry a small notebook with you and write down everything that you are grateful for all day long. You will be amazed at all the blessings in your life - your friends, your family, your job, your warm home, the fact that you don't have to worry about stepping on landmines or getting your head blown off as you step out a door.
7. Be true to yourself. Live the life you have envisioned for your self. Don't look to others for approval; look within, and you will find it all.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart