I recently saw a wonderful video on YouTube that has been making its way around the internet, of a little girl passionately affirming herself and her life in the bathroom mirror ("My whole house is great; I like my hair; I can do anything; I like my family," etc). If you haven't had a chance to see it, check it out -- it's adorable, funny and a beautiful example of appreciation in action.
I showed it to my four-year-old daughter Samantha (who is close to the same age as the girl in the video). Samantha loved it and asked me if she could do the same thing herself. She ran into the bathroom, got up on the counter and began to do her own affirmations in the mirror. It was beautiful, hilarious and quite heartwarming to see her cheering about herself and her life in such a positive and passionate way.
Not only was Samantha excited about doing this, there was no shame, guilt or embarrassment on her part as she did it. Her baby sister, Rosie (who is almost two now) is a big fan of laughing, smiling and kissing herself in the full-length mirror we have in our bedroom. So cute! I'm amazed and inspired by how many little ones seem to have an innate sense of appreciation for themselves, as if it's hardwired into them at birth.
Sadly, this high regard many of us have for ourselves and our lives as babies, toddlers and even little kids is often "trained" out of us as we learn the ways of the "real" world. Directly and indirectly we hear and see things that lead us to believe that we are not good enough, need to be fixed and are fundamentally flawed. We also learn early on that it's not cool, socially acceptable or even appropriate to act, think or speak about ourselves in ways that may be perceived as overly positive or downright arrogant.
Even for those of us, like me and most of you reading this article, who understand the importance of self appreciation and self love, the act of expressing and experiencing love for ourselves can be tricky. Once we get over the negative stigma or our fear of being judged (which is often an ongoing process), we then have to deal with our own obsession with criticizing ourselves, as well as the fact that we may not actually know how to love and appreciate ourselves in an authentic way.
However, when we truly love ourselves, most of what we worry about and even much of what we strive for in life becomes meaningless. We may still have some worries, and we'll definitely continue to have goals, dreams and desires. However, from a place of true self appreciation and self love, the fear behind our worries and the motivation for our goals dramatically changes from something we have to avoid or produce in order to be accepted and valued to something we're genuinely concerned about or really want to accomplish.
In other words, when we wait for other people, the accomplishment of specific goals or the manifestation of ideal circumstances to create the excitement, joy and inspiration for our lives, we give away our personal power and live in an insatiable way. Cheering for ourselves with passion, and with a true sense of love and appreciation is not arrogant, it's actually required if we're going to live a life of fulfillment, gratitude, and meaning.
Arrogance is based on fear and insecurity. Whenever I catch myself doing or saying anything arrogant (which I do on a pretty regular basis) it's because I'm feeling insecure, wanting someone to like me or be impressed with me, or trying to compensate for some perceived "lack" within or about myself. There's nothing "evil" about us being arrogant, it's just not all that much fun for us or others -- and living our life from a place of arrogance can cause a great deal of pain, suffering and hurt for ourselves and those around us.
Authentic self appreciation is about loving, valuing and honoring ourselves, our gifts and all of who we are -- both light and dark. The words, thoughts, and feelings may seem similar to arrogance; however, they're not. Energetically, self appreciation comes from a very different place within us than arrogance does. The more we practice loving and appreciating ourselves, the easier it is for us to tell the difference.
- Speak about yourself positively
- When someone compliments you, breathe, let it in and say "thank you" (don't discount it)
- Say affirmations to yourself in the mirror, and use your first name (i.e. "I love you, Mike")
- Write down things you appreciate about yourself in your journal on a regular basis
- Send yourself an email or card of appreciation -- from you, to you
- Buy yourself flowers or some token of appreciation that makes you feel good
- Ask for the acknowledgment you'd like
- Make requests of others (remember that you don't have to do it all yourself)
- Take time for yourself and by yourself
- Celebrate your successes (big and small) and pat yourself on the back regularly
If we start to think of ourselves as our most important ally, friend and, ultimately, cheerleader, we can alter our own internal relationship and begin to count on ourselves in new, inspiring and important ways.
Being our own cheerleader is not about bragging, boasting or being better than anyone else. It's about honoring, appreciating and loving ourselves in a real way. On this journey of life we are with ourselves in every moment -- the more capacity we have to love ourselves, the more ability we have in turn to love others and share our gifts with the world.
Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info - www.Mike-Robbins.com