I have a question for you. It's a fairly simple question: Who is the one person who has been with you every day of your life? From the moment you were born to the moment you die, what one person has been and will be every step of the way? Please don't get into the spiritual aspect with me on this question as that is not where I am going with this conversation today. I want to know who is that one individual? I know you know the answer - it's You! You are the one person who has walked every step alongside yourself. You alone have experienced the experiences, those feelings, have those memories and your perception of life. Your thoughts that are unspoken, your unshared ideas, your deepest and darkest fears and wildest dreams. You know all of these. No one else. You are a unique individual, very special and deserving of the best. So why is it that we as individuals have such a hard time putting ourselves first and loving and appreciating ourselves? You can call it self esteem, self love, self appreciation or just self. A healthy attitude towards ourselves can do wonders for the soul and those souls around us. It's not being narcissistic or selfish. It's taking care of yourself so that you can then help others. Just as in the safety message in the airplane, first adjust your own oxygen mask and then you can help those around you.
When I was going through my divorce back in the late 90s, I did a lot of self discovery and personal development. It was part of the healing process for me. I read books, listened to cassette tapes (this was the 90s, remember) and journaled. I even worked with a life coach way back before folks knew what a life coach was. It was a fascinating journey of self discovery. It became the decade (my 40s) of the most positive personal growth ever in my life. But I will admit, the self love part has been the hardest for me. I can easily put others' needs before my own. I am also excellent at comparing myself to others to my own detriment. But I'm learning to change and each day I have to renew this commitment to myself. I know many people will say, oh I get my nails done, or I get a massage to take care of me, or I work out, which is great. But self love is deep, subconscious thinking, it is part of our psych and it affects our decision-making process. It is an acceptance of who we are, flaws and all.
For many, we look to others for acceptance. Our family, our friends, our work colleagues, our social network. We want those "likes" on our Facebook page. We want our tweets shared. We want to be liked. But if we don't like ourselves first, why should anybody else? When we have to look outward for acceptance, we are telling ourselves we don't trust our own judgment, our ability to make the right decisions for ourselves. One of the best quotes I have seen (I don't know who said this initially) is: What other people think of me is none of my business. That is a great message to share with yourself, especially when having doubts or feeling rejection.
So back to that first question - you have been with you your whole life. Do you like yourself? Do you treat yourself with kindness and respect? Our conversation here today is not a therapy session, I'm not qualified for that nor is this the place. But we can have the conversation on the value of having high self esteem and liking ourselves. Because when we like ourselves, life is just so much easier to deal with.
When you like yourself, you get great freebies (who doesn't like freebies!):
- Life is more simple and easier to manage. When the challenges come, you can easier maneuver and redirect. You have confidence in yourself and your decisions.
- You are more emotionally stable and self reliant. That neediness goes away and you are less likely to self sabotage yourself (fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of losing.)
- You are happier. Wow. If this is all you get, isn't being happier enough?
Enough. Are you enough? When you accept yourself, you are enough. Yes, there are always roads to improvement. We should never stop learning and growing. But do we accept ourselves just as we are in this moment?
There are a lot of great books and other resources out there on the value of self esteem, self love and self acceptance. For me personally, I have learned that I am the most important person in my life. I need and want to take care of myself first. I cannot help others if I am unable to help myself. An unknown author of a quote says it quite clearly: Self love is the very first romance. I add make it last your lifetime.