Learn to Appreciate Yourself and Take Pride in You
Psychologists have been studying the topics of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth for centuries. Sigmund Freud believed that the adult personality is formed based on childhood experiences and our interpretation of those experiences. Carl Jung believed that the collective unconscious plays a role in our personalities and behavior. However our self-esteems are formed, and through whatever external sources, the bottom line is that our own selves play the largest role in what our self-esteem looks like. We are the ones who give ourselves value and worth through what we tell ourselves about ourselves.
In some ways, pride may not be generally viewed as a good thing to have. But there is a difference between boasting and self-appreciation. It’s important for us to support ourselves in our own happiness and self-worth. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”
As with many things, learning to have self-appreciation and pride can be more easily said than done. Below are four simple practices and exercises that can assist you in incorporating more self-appreciation and allow yourself to experience more pride in who you are.
1. Start with the Little Things
Often times when we think of people who are “worthy” of our appreciation, we think of the highest achievers; Nobel Prize winners, canonized saints, or comic book superheroes, for example. While these people and characters do give us goals for who we want to be, they can also make us feel a bit bad about who we are not yet. But, just because you haven’t figured out the cure for cancer, doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of your own appreciation.
Take a look at your day. Is there something small in there that brings you even the smallest amount of pride? Perhaps you packed a lunch for your children and put in an extra cookie that you knew they love? Maybe you waited and held the door for someone even though you were in a hurry. The truth is that we all do things for other people throughout the day, but sometimes if they don’t seem big enough, we brush them off without acknowledging ourselves. Even a small good deed is a worthy good deed.
2. Practice Positive Projection
Anna Freud spoke about projection in “The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense.” In her studies, she speaks about the idea of projection and how often times people attribute their own feelings as being owned by others. For example, we might call someone else lazy or rude, but really, we feel it’s ourselves who are lazy or rude. This has often been referred to as, “If you spot it, you’ve got it.” But, did you know that this can also work in the positive way? Just as we can see the negative things we view about ourselves in others, we can see the positive. If we are able to recognize that someone is kind, generous, or intelligent, this means that we understand what kindness is, what generosity looks and feels like, and what intelligence means. The simple fact that we understand something means that we have it within ourselves.
Try it for yourself. Take a look at someone who you admire. What is it about them that you admire? Is it their sense of humor, their creativity, their strength of heart? Write down exactly what it is about them that you admire. Now, the more difficult part. How do you see these qualities within yourself? If you recognize it in them, you have it in you. Perhaps you make your children laugh with your silly jokes, you enjoy painting, or you are steadfast in your beliefs. Whatever it may be and however it shows up for yourself, acknowledge it and appreciate it.
3. Remind Yourself of Your Value
We are all busy throughout each day, working to pay our bills, spending time with our loved ones, setting ourselves up for a stable future. It’s important that we take time not only to ensure and maintain positive relationships with others but to also maintain a positive relationship with ourselves. The good news is that this doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. In fact, there are many ways you can build your self-appreciation while you’re already doing the things that need to be done.
One easy and surprisingly effective way is to work with affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that can assist us in rewiring our thoughts towards more positive pathways. Once you have your affirmation, you can recite it to yourself in the mornings while you brush your teeth, write it down on a post-it note and attach it to your kitchen backsplash so that you can read it while you wash the dishes, or keep it as the background on your computer. However you do it, make sure it’s something that you will see each and every day. If you need assistance with coming up with an affirmation that could work for you, there are a few websites that can help you, including http://www.thelawofattraction.com/how-create-own-affirmations/, or https://blog.mindvalley.com/positive-affirmations/.
4. Help Another
Helping another person may be the most effective and biggest self-esteem boost that exists in this world. Taking the time out of our day to assist another, support another, or encourage another automatically assists us in seeing the value of ourselves. Because, even if it may be hard for us to bring our attention to our own value, recognizing it in another is self-affirming regardless of whether or not we consciously acknowledge it. Schools, nursing homes, and shelters are great places to help us shed light on our own value by helping others. You can explore additional places to volunteer in your community through www.volunteermatch.org.
Remember, taking pride in yourself and appreciating yourself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing, perhaps one of the best things. Because you are worth your own time, energy, and support. And regardless of whatever negative thoughts that may come to mind about yourself, you are worthy for no reason other than the fact that you are alive.
Melissa Schoenecker is a freelance writer and co-creator of the universe based in Venice, California. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master's Degree from the University of Santa Monica. She contributes to a number of blogs and online postings, but her best work can be found in her gratitude journal.