The Art of Self-appreciation

self-appreciation
from Pinterest (Brian Tran via Flickr)

How can you find self-appreciation in a world full of reflections that want you to believe you’re not good enough?

It’s important to find it, because it can reduce stress, increase well-being and engender heightened feelings of success.

What is healthy self-appreciation?

There’s a certain humility and relaxation that comes of confidently, quietly acknowledging your innate talents and gifts, and using them in ways that light your heart.

It’s not an ego-driven, vociferous exhortation of all your best assets, followed up by proof in the form of photos, documents and extraordinary testimonials.

 

Drop the comparisons

This is a biggie. It’s easy to appreciate yourself when you’re the only one around. It becomes more difficult when someone else enters the picture and suddenly one of you is ‘less than’ in your mind. This is not only when self-judgements kick in, but also judgements of others as a way to make yourself feel better (which doesn’t work).

So, take it back to the initial idea: learn to appreciate yourself when you’re the only one around. Appreciate how you look, how you feel, the sound of your voice, the way you smell. Appreciate the amazing things you do in a day (even if they’re seemingly ‘small,’ like getting up, making a healthy breakfast and starting your work).

Your body is a miracle! It can move on its own, you can see, feel and breathe! Don’t compare today to yesterday, last week or last year, it’s all new. Every day offers a chance to be reborn and to begin appreciating more.

As you go out in the world, acknowledge and appreciate the diversity you see. Some people are tall, some aren’t; some are round, some are lean; and skin comes in a variety of shades. This is the incredible diversity we have available to us, to add to our unique journey through life. Everything you encounter adds a new piece of information to your day, and your life. Each person you meet has a different sense of the world, seen through their eyes. There can be no comparison, because the starting points are completely dissimilar.

Observing and comparing are two different things. In order to find resonance, discernment is necessary. If you take the value judgements out of comparison you’re left with observation and neutrality. That’s what you’re aiming for. As ever, it begins with you.

Relinquish expectations

This will feel incredibly freeing as you begin to notice how much unhappiness springs from the expectation-disappointment cycle. Holding expectations of events or situations that haven’t yet happened is entirely unfair. It’s future-baiting, and it’s dishonest.

It’s one thing to feel anticipation or excitement for an event that holds mystery and potential, like a first date. Expectation is different; it feels weighty, laden with limitation and control, like an ‘if… then’ formula. If ____this____ happens… then I will feel ____this way____. The unspoken limitation is ‘if not… I will be disappointed.’ This is a subtle manipulation tactic, and isn’t an honest assessment of a situation because the intention on entering isn’t pure.

With an intention of appreciation, life flows smoothly and you’re open to infinite possibilities. This includes everything to do with the self. When you hold yourself to standards defined by you or someone else, you don’t appreciate all aspects of whatever arises. When you fail, you’ll believe your self to be a failure, instead of appreciating the experience as a great opportunity for personal growth.

Without expectation, it’s easier to appreciate every moment and every experience.

Ease into the flow

This ties in to and expands on number 2.

So many people have their lives planned down to the last second. We live in a busy world, and are expected to be productive and active all the time. Planning seems to be a necessity, trying to fit all the activities, chores and fun into a day.

Here’s something to think about: over-planning limits your possibilities. If you have every moment of your life planned, it can lack spontaneity, which leads to incredible things.

When every moment is planned and there’s no room for flexibility, what happens when external circumstances (weather, traffic, etc) throw a wrench in the works? It’s harder to appreciate yourself and the moment when you’re in a state of worry that you won’t make the meeting despite your best-laid plans.

When you’re in a state of appreciation, you’re in a far better condition to respond to events that might throw you off. You’re relaxed, calm and know you can handle whatever arises in a creative and dynamic way. Then this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: the more you ease into the flow, the more you appreciate your natural ability to respond to life creatively.

Head towards your Joy

Self-appreciation begins within. Obvious? One way to find it quickly is to follow the joy. Experiences that leave you feeling light and joyful are sure ways to appreciate whatever is happening in that moment, including ALL the choices you made to be there.

In a state of worry, constriction or anger, it’s hard to appreciate anything, let alone yourself. You might chastise yourself for poor decisions or awkward choices. That doesn’t help! As often as possible, head towards your joy, and you’ll find yourself appreciating life more and more.

From that point of view, you can turn the appreciation inwards, noticing how your joy affects the world around you (as within, so without). From the perspective of joy, it is easier to see past or current ‘mistakes’ as stepping stones, leading you on a merry path to a life filled with diverse and expansive experiences.

Do a self-appreciation life review

This is a great way to find appreciation for yourself and your life, with all its ups and downs. Think of all your accomplishments and wisdom with pride and gratitude. What things do you feel you could have done better? Start making lists. List them all, the good, the bad and the ugly.

For example, if you had never failed or caused another pain, would you have learned to change the way you approached certain situations or people? If you had never owed money, you might not have had the opportunity to explore your feelings of value . All of life’s experiences have valuable information to offer, and all of them can be appreciated for one reason or another.

As you take stock of your life, you’ll find many reasons to appreciate yourself. You’ll likely find examples of things like resilience, strength, the capacity to learn and grow, the ability to love deeply, flexibility, a sense of humour, and many gifts and talents you’d forgotten about. You can do this regularly, adding new experiences to the list to see how they contribute to your constantly developing self.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* I am the author of this post. You might find the original, which was used with my permission, without attribution, on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *

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