Being Nice to Myself)
In my last post I spoke about a practice of giving myself words of validation and appreciation. I explained how this process has helped to satisfy my need to have my good deeds seen and acknowledged. By providing this kindness for myself, I able to let go of unhealthy obsessions, such as trying to coerce love and attention out of others.
The way that I give myself this validation and appreciation is very simple, with only a few steps to follow. Basically, these steps come down to showing myself the same consideration and attention that I would to another person. I certainly don’t want to be sending myself a message that I am being taken for granted!
The steps I follow in this process are:
- Set aside time. I wouldn’t want to praise the good someone else had done in an offhand manner, so I don’t do that to myself either. I like to wait until the evening, after the kids have gone down and I am able to have a conversation with myself free from distraction. This practice doesn’t ever take me too long, but I make sure it can last for as long as it needs.
- Look myself in the eye. This, of course, requires a mirror. I don’t want to hear these words of kindness from a faceless, inner place. I make the effort to look myself full in the eye and show my sincerity as I speak.
- Speak out loud. It’s easy to be self-conscious about this practice, and at first it was tempting to just think the words in my head or mutter them under my breath. But I realized that I needed to literally hear these words. This is another reason why I wait for the evening, when I can go to an isolated place and not suddenly have someone walk in on me.
- Be specific. The last thing I want to do is broadly tell myself “good job, today.” The whole point of this is to call out all of the individual things that I did that I feel proud of. One-by-one, I go through each point and acknowledge and express gratitude for it directly. And I use my knowledge of my own inner workings to call out things that no one else could. Like “I know you were a bit unsure about approaching that stranger to see if he needed help, but you were bold and went forward anyhow.” As you can see, I’m not only specific about the event (approaching the stranger), but also about the good quality shown (being bold).
- Pause and listen. Once I’ve covered all the things that were at the forefront of the mind, I pause to listen to my own heart. Have I forgotten something? Did some of my words not feel right? I make sure that I stay in this moment until I feel totally seen and appreciated.
- Reiterate my love. Last of all, I make sure that I know that I love and care for myself, that I see and appreciate myself, and that I will continue to be there for myself.
And this is the process that I follow. When I am on top of my self-care and recovery, I try to do it once every day. It does take a commitment of time and effort, but frankly that’s a big part of what gives it its value. All of us want to know that we’re worth it for someone to go out of their way to care for us, and why shouldn’t that someone be our own self? Honestly, even if we had another person who perfectly fulfilled that need for us, we still need to learn to treat ourselves this way as well.
I can attest that as I have done this work, I have seen a marked improvement in my emotional outlook and a definite increase in my life satisfaction. I highly recommend that you give this practice a try and see what it does for you.
All that being said, self-appreciation isn’t the end of the story. There is one particular source that I still feel we all need to feel the approval of: God. The rest of these posts will be exploring that side of things, I’ll see you tomorrow as we dive into it!