One of the hardest things to do in life is learning how to appreciate one’s self. Really, truly, appreciating one’s self.
It is fairly easy for us to recognize our blessings. We can recognize how life blesses us, and how the people around us bless us. We can even recognize how we bless others. But can we learn how to take it a step further, and recognize how we are a blessing in our own lives?
This is the great challenge of self-appreciation: recognizing that we wouldn’t be were we are, without us.
Why We Need To Learn How To Appreciate Ourselves
We live this life focused mostly on our “outward vision.” After all, our eyes look outward for signals to respond to; our eyes often do not know how to look internally. Our eyes cannot leave our own bodies and look at us from an objective plane.
This is why, most of the time, we witness life subjectively. We see the people around us, we see life, but we cannot see ourselves. This is why it is a challenge to recognize what we do for ourselves, because, often, we do not witness it. We literally cannot see what we do for ourselves on a daily basis.
This is why, of all the people we could lack appreciation for, the person we are often the most unappreciative of is us.
How ungrateful are we, right?
To overlook the ways in which we care for ourselves, help ourselves, and work for our happiness is to commit a grave injustice against our soul.
When others take care for us, help us, and work for our happiness, we know to thank them. This is just common courtesy. We see that the intentions of others are good, and even if they do not care for us perfectly, help us perfectly, or work for our happiness perfectly, it does not matter: we still thank them for their effort. We thank them for trying. We thank them for caring. We thank them for their work. We thank them for their help.
We appreciate them.
So, why would we lack this same common courtesy for ourselves whenever we care for ourselves, help ourselves, or work towards our own happiness?
Why are we so unappreciative of all our efforts to better ourselves? Why are we so ungrateful to ourselves?
I think it’s because we don’t take time out of our day to recognize all the good things we do for ourselves.
This is why we must engage in an exercise of self-appreciation. If we don’t engage in such an exercise, we will always find our efforts lacking, we will always see ourselves as “not good enough,” or, worst of all, we will consistently punish ourselves for not living up to our own expectations, instead of celebrating our efforts–efforts which were born only out of love.
An Exercise In Self-Appreciation
Today, I’d like you to join me in an exercise in self-appreciation.
Today, both of us are going to learn how to appreciate ourselves–really truly appreciate ourselves–for the very first time.
Here is what I would like you to do:
Get Alone. Get Quiet.
Sit down in a quiet, private place where you will not be disturbed.
Appreciate Yourself for Caring For Yourself
While you sit there, meditate on your daily routine. See if you can’t step outside of yourself for a moment and recognize all the little things you do each day to take care of yourself. You might recognize things like: you take care of your teeth by brushing them, you take care of your body by exercising, eating healthy, and resting, you take care of your soul’s calling by writing your book (or engaging in some other passion), and you take care of your relationships by spending time with friends and family.
Once you recognize how much work you put into taking care of yourself every day, tell yourself how much you appreciate all this effort in self-caring. Thank yourself for being a blessing in your own life.
Once you are done with this part of the exercise, stay seated.
Appreciate Yourself For Working So Hard For Your Happiness
Now meditate on all those tasks, or goals, you believe you have failed to achieve or accomplish. Now, before you go into your usual routine of negative self-criticism, stop yourself. Instead, I want you to look at the effort you exerted in accomplishing those goals or tasks you have “failed” at. Can you appreciate yourself for the effort you exerted in trying to achieve something good for yourself? Can you see that even though you did not get what you wanted, or did not execute the task perfectly, you were still willing to work hard for it? Don’t you think that hard work and effort deserves your appreciation and thanks?
Today, instead of going the route of negative self-criticism, be appreciative of all the effort you made to work for your happiness. Thank yourself for being such a loyal and dedicated worker for yourself.
Once you are done with that part of this exercise, stay seated.
Appreciate Yourself For Helping Yourself
Now meditate on what you did to improve yourself after you “failed” at that task you were trying so hard to accomplish. What classes did you take to master your craft? What books did you read to enhance your knowledge? What guides did you consult to help you grow in skill and capacity? How did you handle yourself in the “failure”? Did you give yourself a break? Did you allow yourself time to heal from the wound? Did you surround yourself with friends, family, and counselors who could support and encourage you to keep moving forward?
Can you recognize how much you help yourself on a daily basis? Can you find a place in your heart to thank yourself for all the help you have given to yourself?
Today, recognize how much you have helped yourself on a daily basis and then, out of common courtesy, show your appreciation to yourself. Thank yourself for being such a good friend, mentor, and guide to yourself.
Once you are done with this part of the exercise, stay seated.
Bring It All Together
Finally, review all the ways you care for yourself, help yourself, and work for your happiness.
Then, today, make a pledge that you will not allow yourself to get overly negative about your talents and abilities. Instead, pledge to focus on how much you care for yourself, help yourself, and work towards you happiness on a daily basis. Then, promise yourself that you will practice self-appreciation as much as you can. Promise yourself that you will thank yourself for being such a vital part of your life.
Because if it weren’t for you, you wouldn’t be where you are today.