It is important for our personal development to learn how to love ourselves. If we don’t, it is hard to expect others to love us. Whilst humans have many faults and shortcomings, embracing our faults is central to accepting ourselves as we are. Loving ourselves should become our highest priority if we wish to live authentically, from a place of non-resistance. I don’t mean loving ourselves in a self-centered way but to embrace our uniqueness and the gifts that show up in our daily life. Low self-esteem puts the brakes on our personal growth by restricting our concept of self, insofar as we may never reach our full potential if we entertain recurring thoughts of low self-esteem. Consider the following thoughts as a guide for reconnecting with your purposeful self and developing a stronger relationship with that self.
1. Know Yourself
If our desire is personal growth, it is vital we understand ourselves better, and know what makes us bloom. We may be aware of our flaws, yet embracing them and moving forward becomes our source of courage. Nobody is perfect—we may spend our entire life trying to fill an empty shoe that doesn’t exist if we follow this line of thinking. Yes, even his Holiness the Dalai Lama is subject to the conditions of human frailty. Therefore, I invite you to stand before a mirror and admire your reflection. Do you like what you see reflected back to you? What feelings arise when you look deeply into your eyes? Some people are loath to appreciate themselves and their body. Whilst you may not consider yourself as important as other people, in your life story you are the hero in your life’s journey.
2. Stop Criticising Yourself
Do you belittle yourself over small things? Whenever you make a mistake, are you aware of the inner critic inside your head reminding you of your imperfections? Criticizing yourself will get you nowhere fast. People who practice self-compassion are more successful in life with a healthier outlook. It is vital to associate with your positive traits instead of focusing on the negative ones. Be mindful you are not reliving a childhood phase of your life by reconnecting with a critical parent. Therefore, let go of your need to judge yourself and move towards a state of empathy.
3. Embrace Your Positive Nature
When you entertain positive thoughts, you are kinder towards yourself so your self-love and self-esteem increases. Kindness towards others becomes an expression of one’s self-love. You can only give out what you hold in your heart. Therefore, if you believe you are undeserving of attention and kindness, you will likely withhold sharing these virtues with others. Every person is born positive, it’s their environment which shapes them into a bitter or negative individual. Even at this stage, you can still embrace your positive nature. Nothing is carved in stone unless you give it power and permission.
4. Acknowledge Your Success
You might not have succeeded according to your terms and definition, yet the definition of success is arbitrary. What does success look like to you? There are many people who never attempt to step out of their comfort zone and yet insist success paves a path to their front door. If you made a direct effort to pursue something you desired, but could not succeed, don’t let that impair your definition of success. Failure is part of the process to reach your goals. Those who succeed will tell you they failed repeatedly before reaching success. Your success is determined by how you bounce back from your failures and the lessons gained. Trying is a big thing. It is not always about winning, sometimes it’s the effort that counts.
5. Release Your Worries
Worrying is a futile emotion that is better spent taking appropriate action. Worrying uses up vital emotional energy which can be channeled into developing emotional resiliency and fortitude. The more you entertain worrying thoughts, the more you establish a place in your mind that becomes habituated to worrying. There is a term used in neuropsychology known as the Hebbian theory which states: nerves that fire together, wire together. When you entertain worrying thoughts, you set up stronger neural connections in the brain for the worrying to exist. Set your worries aside since they may hold you back from prospering at greater levels. Surely you want to taste success and transform your worries into empowering emotions, which can serve your greatest potential.
6. Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes, some people make more than others, yet that does not qualify you or them to think less of oneself. Holding on to your mistakes inhibits vital neural pathways in the brain from learning. Your brain is engineered for growth and learning the context of a receptive environment. No one is immune to making mistakes. Therefore, learn to forgive yourself by practicing detachment from outcomes. Trust that whatever happened in the past was done so with the level of awareness apparent to you. You were doing the best you could given the resources available to you, thus forgiveness opens the door to help you move forward. Appreciate the lessons gained from your experiences by seeing them as an opportunity to gain the emotional resiliency to fight other battles.
7. Be Grateful
If you’re reading this on a smartphone or tablet, you have every reason to be grateful. If you have access to a computer, you are privileged to have electricity and more likely to live an industrialized country with suitable resources. Almost three billion people on the planet live below the poverty line and it is expected this figure will rise over the coming years. At the time of writing, the world’s population is 7.53 billion people. Yet, less than half gets by on $2.50 a day. Without turning this into a lecture on why we should be grateful, it is worth appreciating how much there is to be grateful for when we consider those numbers. Gratitude entails being thankful for what is available in our life right NOW. It does not mean being grateful when we gain something of value or someone contributing to our happiness. It means recognizing what is available to us at this moment results from the thoughts, beliefs, and energy we created to allow us to be who we are. We create our reality through the sum of our thoughts, habits, and actions.
Being grateful does not mean comparing oneself to others who are less fortunate; for we are all navigating our own journey in life. People often ask me: “Tony, how can I be grateful when people are homeless and others are dying in third-world countries?” My reply is: “It is your obligation to be grateful not for what is happening in the world, but what is happening in your world.” Consider if every person in the world raised their thought energy to one of gratitude? The collective consciousness of humanity would expand to the degree that poverty, homelessness and other diseases and illnesses would no longer be a threat to our way of life. Whilst this sounds like a Utopian existence, it is conceivable that we can make slow strides toward this possibility if we play our part in the evolution of humanity.