This isn’t your typical “love yourself ” sermon. You probably hear it all the time but it goes in one ear and out the other. So I’m taking a different approach. Before we dive into the topic of being kind to ourselves, let’s first talk about self-awareness.
Self Awareness and Self Love
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of your own character, feelings, and motivations. To be self-aware is to see yourself as you truly are: a person with flaws and also strengths. While it’s sometimes easy to only see the flaws, you have to train yourself to also see your strengths. Focusing on your strengths is an act of self-love.
These four key talking points below are on how you can learn to be kind to yourself and be confident in who you are. There’s also a self-love exercise for you to try.
Your self-worth should not be dependent on outside validation
I’ve been reading about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation lately. We need both but the former is the key to truly mastering yourself. Everyone wants accolades. It feels good to be applauded, recognized, and rewarded for our achievements both small and big. However, if that’s all you rely on, then you have the wrong motivation. It sure helps and it’s nice to be applauded but when the applause is absent (which is the reality of life), you should still feel good about yourself. External validation is not sustainable and you have no control over it. What you have control over is your internal drive.
Situations will occur where you feel unworthy or undeserving. Events will happen that make you feel like sh*t and doubt yourself. These are temporary and do not define you. So when you feel tempted to put yourself down, instead be on your own side, encourage yourself and hype yourself up.
Do the work
I write from experience when I tell you, that oftentimes wallowing in self-pity is easier than doing the work to identify your worth and to love and value yourself. Being kind to yourself takes work because it’s so easy to self-hate and self-criticize.
Do you focus only on your weaknesses or the ways you’re not good enough because it’s easier? Are you being hard on yourself because it’s now second nature and doesn’t require any emotional or mental work? It’s time to stop being lazy. There is a certain rush that comes from always feeling sorry for yourself and a soothing moral one-upness of being self-hating. Snap out of it.
Loving yourself shows people how to treat you
Just like being boastful is unseemly the other side of the spectrum of always self-hating is just as bad. People recognize when a person values themselves and they follow suit. People will treat you the way you treat yourself. If you carry yourself with dignity and confidence you will be treated as such. A confident person is also more fun to be around.
Focusing on your strengths is an act of self-love.
Confidence is Maturity
You cannot be the same self-hating and self-criticizing person you were a few years ago. If you struggle with confidence, you should make a conscious effort to work on it. Most of you (Clever-ish readers) fall between the ages of 22 to 36. This means you are at a time in your life where you have to make crucial decisions about your careers and relationships. While you work on these, you must also work on yourself and your identity as an individual.
The world is full of things and people that will try to undervalue you and make you doubt yourselves. When this happens (or before), learn to take an objective look at yourself. You are a flawed human but you are also a person of value.
Self-Love and Self-Awareness Exercise
If you’re particularly struggling with being kind to yourself, this exercise will help you to put your self-love and confidence into practice.
- Write down two things you’re really good at.
- Write down two ways you have been a good friend/sibling/co-worker/neighbor this year.
- Write down an aspect of your job you are really good at.
- Share some of the things you write down in a text message to someone close to you and. Try this format:
I believe I am good at ……………………….or
I am a good person because ………………….. or
I love myself because…………………..
… and I’m sharing this with you not because I want you to validate it or give your opinion but because I want to get comfortable with not being afraid to declare my strengths. (or because some cheesy writer told me to).
Remember! You are good, you bring value, you’re worth it, you deserve to be happy and you deserve self-love and the love of others.[/vc_column_text]
This article was first published in an issue of the Wandering, Not Lost Newsletter f/k/a The QLC Newsletter.
The Wandering, Not Lost newsletter covers topics like finding your purpose, self-actualization, job dissatisfaction, mental health, relationships, money anxieties, and more. Every two weeks our founder Jiji Ugboma, shares advice, insight, and unique perspectives on these topics and issues that are typical and unexpected stressors for emerging adults.