“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul” – Henry Ward Beecher
Two weeks ago I wrote about appreciating others and others appreciating me.
This week I’d like to discuss a matter which has always been very difficult for me, and possibly for many others, too: appreciating yourself. Can you actually be grateful to yourself for something you did for you? And if so, would that be weird or perfectly normal?
I was raised with the idea that you should always put other people’s needs first. This message was not given in words, but in actions, with my mother being the prime example. She always put other people’s wishes before hers and, of course, with three young children it’s easy to see some reason in that.
Whenever I would openly claim I’d like something for myself or wouldn’t share my snacks or colouring pencils or clothes or whatever, my mother would get upset and tell me off for it. Or someone else would. The bottom-line here is: I felt like I was instantly punished whenever I expressed my personal wishes or opinions and the eventual result was that I felt they didn’t matter.
So I started trying to please everyone else around me, completely forgetting about myself.
Now we all know how that worked out, right? You can’t take care of someone else if you haven’t taken care of yourself, first!
By which I don’t mean to always put yourself first, that’s the other end of the scale. But it’s also unhealthy to push away your own desires and always focus on someone else’s wants.
Somewhere in the middle lies the better, healthier option.
Recently, I have taken up monthly goals: I make sure I go out all alone and do something I’d never imagine doing on my own, like visiting the cinema or eating out for lunch. By doing this I try to enhance my self-esteem and –confidence, as well as stretch out my comfort zone.
I find that every time I overcome another hurdle, my appreciation for myself grows. It’s as if I allow myself to be happier by doing all these things. As if I am taking myself by the hand and showing me I am much more awesome than I ever thought I was.
And because I make myself do things I actually find scary (you don’t want to know what mental state I was in when I forced myself to go on a hike alone – I could already picture all the rapists hiding behind the trees and foliage!), I also treat myself afterwards. Sometimes with a snack or wine, other times with a good book.
This way of enhancing my self-esteem works for me and I can highly recommend it to anyone who’s battling the same demons! As an added bonus, my self-appreciation has increased, too! Every time I’ve successfully gone out and did my thing, I pat myself on the back. Literally (but when nobody’s watching).
In that small gesture lies the deepest appreciation I could possibly feel for myself, because I know I do this for me.
Do you appreciate yourself? How do you show yourself you do?
End of Heart Two
Appreciation – Heart One appeared on Thursday, September 13th