THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SELF APPRECIATION IN YOUR LIFE: Self-esteem plays vital role shaping our personality especially when we look at ourselves
You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. – Louise L. Hay
The meaning of love and respect is something we are taught or come to learn and understand as we grow up. We are taught not to be selfish and always be forgiving towards others. Well, except for a few people. Emotions such as “selfishness” and “narcissism” are considered negative as they hamper a person’s understanding of empathy and growth. And, of course, these feelings are, in a way, a hindrance to our growth. We become more consumed with ourselves as we feel like there is no one better than us. It makes our minds stagnant and stops us from learning something new. The meanings behind these two “positive” and “negative” emotions are pretty basic if you look at them. In a general sense, children are supposedly taught to be kind and respectful towards others while not being too self-centered or overconfident. However, are we all taught about the meaning of “self-appreciation” or “self-love”?
Significance Of Self Appreciation
In today’s world, we know how much we value the meaning of “self-appreciation.” You can open the internet and see thousands of quotes and stories about it and can understand the meaning and the reason behind why self-love is necessary. But is that really easy to love yourself? I think the answer would be no for a lot of people. I am not trying to be a pessimist here but let me say something which I think you might all agree with- it is usually easier for us to look at our negative side than appreciate what’s good about us.
Well, isn’t that true?
Psychologically speaking, the concept of self-love can be conceptualized both as a basic human necessity and as a moral flaw. And usually, our mind likes to understand the latter one. This term can confuse some of us that we even start to look at it in a complete sense. You may think that you love or pamper yourself by buying new things and listening to happy songs for some of you. You may even think that reading motivational books and improving your lifestyle is also a part of the self-love routine. However, that is not true. Yes, pampering yourself from time to time and improving your lifestyle may help you keep a happy “materialistic” life, but to say that it’s self-love will not be right. In fact, we usually do such things when we are trying to keep ourselves distracted. And distraction is in no way helpful for keeping a healthy mind.
Our self-esteem plays a vital role in shaping our personality and mind, especially when we look at ourselves. Although, don’t confuse self-esteem with self-appreciation as these are two completely different terms for people who don’t know how to love or appreciate themselves is usually the cause of low self-esteem. For people like this, they cannot or maybe even refuse to look at their positive side. They feel like they are not worthy of any compliments, and when they do get complimented, they feel uncomfortable. They are usually looking for perfection in their work, but when they cannot make it perfect, they feel worthless, as if they are not capable of doing even a single job properly. They want to please others and make others happy and comfortable, but they forget how to love themselves when it comes to their own self.
You may have heard it somewhere “if you cannot love yourself, then how can you love someone else?”. And this question genuinely makes us think about how it is even possible. Finding your happiness in someone else is an act of compassion and selflessness, but throwing your own worth away simultaneously does not fit well. If you feel like you are unworthy, then it simply means you are letting other people take you for granted. Your insecurities and low self-esteem do not let you see what you are capable of. But honestly, I cannot blame the person for that. Studies state that people who strive for “perfectionism” are also the ones who suffer from mental illness. Almost in every part of the world, the concept of perfection is ingrained in almost every person’s mind in such a manner that they cannot escape it. The desire to do something in the best way possible but not keep putting a strain on the mind. When you look at someone else’s work, you start finding flaws in yours because you cannot match their “level of perfection.” This constant pressure only worsens the situation as our minds start to believe that we are incapable of doing anything properly.
But calm down. The way you think you are is not true. Even though you feel like you are unworthy, you can still change.
Generally, if we are incapable of appreciating ourselves, it actually means that we fear the concept of “self-appreciation.” In our minds, questions such as “what if I become overconfident” or “what if I fail” keep coming. We feel like if they start seeing our good side, we might end up becoming selfish and narcissistic, which we definitely don’t want to become. We also tend not to expect much from ourselves. Before we could actually let someone down, we already act like we have given up. Underplaying our good points, we try to surprise others by doing well rather than disappoint them by doing poorly. However, the question here is how long we can act like this? We may feel like we are playing safe here, but no, we are just butchering our minds by being so harsh and cruel to ourselves. It may seem like we are helping others, but if we cannot keep a healthy mind, how can we expect to help others? A dying man cannot save anyone, and so a dying mind. We only continue to let our insecurities cloud our potential while making fun of our own capabilities.
So, let me ask you. Is it impossible to love yourself?
You may not know how to love yourself, but how about you give it a start with being a little compassionate towards yourself? Buddhism states that the desires of self are the root of all evil. However, this is balanced by karuna (compassion). Although in the past centuries, self-love was considered to be selfish and evil, with time, it leans towards the positive side, which is necessary for human welfare. You can still give your admirable capabilities a chance by showing yourself some compassion. Instead of being dissatisfied with your negative qualities all the time, show some appreciation towards your positive traits. Acknowledge your mistakes, your weakness but do not try to throw away your strength. This will help you understand that every person comes with their own good and bad qualities. If you realize what you can do while understanding where you lack, it can help you reveal your goodness without evoking emotions such as arrogance and overconfidence. By doing so, you can expand your horizon of understanding without giving in to your negative emotions.
Being kind towards yourself also helps you appreciate your good qualities. Like I said before, if you continue to remain harsh towards yourself constantly, you will not be able to receive any peace of mind. At the end of the day, you are only human, not a robot. You cannot just fill your tank with some fuel instantly and continue working again. If you try too hard, you will only feel more pressure because you want it to be “perfect,” which will only lead to an unsatisfactory consequence. That’s why you will have to be a little more empathetic towards yourself. Instead of telling yourself that “you have to do it!” try to give yourself a breather. Just like how you acknowledge your friends’ good qualities and help them in the time of need, acknowledge your hard work too and be a little more appreciative instead of pushing yourself too hard.
Showing yourself some common humanity from time to time will not harm you. You may think that by acknowledging yourself, you are maybe becoming a “narcissist,” but no, you are not. It just shows that you also treat yourself like any other human being, and of course, you don’t see yourself as some superior being. Seeking your gratitude and appreciation towards other people while constantly putting yourself down is not a healthy mindset. As I said, you may think it’s helpful because it makes you a “humble” person; you are just letting yourself believe in a false concept. Remember, acknowledging a person’s good and bad qualities while understanding your own strengths and weaknesses helps you gain more life experience. You honor others only when you honor yourself. Just like the Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn writes, “You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible.” We all are different from one another, and even if we feel like we are not “unique,” it does not mean we are worthless. We should see ourselves for who we are instead of becoming someone else who we can never be. We know that we are giving our fair share of contribution to this world, and so, showing a little gratitude towards ourselves is not a selfish thing to do. Instead, we humbly come to appreciate everything which has helped us reach where we are today.
Celebrating your achievements or your capabilities does not make you a self-centered person. We often misunderstand the concept of being “confident” with “overconfidence.” As I said, we fear becoming a dislikable person because we see ourselves appreciate our good qualities. But that’s not how we should perceive it. Instead of continuously beating ourselves up, we will have to understand the difference between “self-love” and “narcissism.” I believe that there is a skinny line between these two terms, and that is why it is necessary to know what separates these two. Focusing on yourself is not bad; you will have to understand if you focus “too much” on yourself. Self-appreciation does not intend to teach you the fact that you are “perfect” and that “no one is better than you.” Instead, what it should teach you is the fact that every human being comes with its pros and cons, you being no exception. You start looking at the world from a broader perspective, accepting the good and others’ bad. It is not about which side you belong to. It is about how you should try to maintain a balance between the positive and the negative.
Whether you believe it or not, self-appreciation is necessary for your mind as well as for your body. After all, the role of this concept in mental health was introduced as “mental hygiene” by William Sweetser. Research shows that people who do not show any signs of self-love are way too harsh upon themselves. Along with having low self-esteem and neglecting their good points, they also put extreme pressure on their mind, which affects their performance. In this case, severe stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, and even heart problems. Studies also suggest that many people choose to commit to dying because they cannot see anything good.
It is only natural to feel needed and approved by people. Wherever we go, we do want to be appreciated for our work at whatever stage of our life. But, as I said before if we don’t appreciate ourselves, how can we expect others to appreciate us. If you ignore your good point while procrastinating over your bad points, then you will never get to know who you really are. The way we think about ourselves is only reflected when we meet others. And the lack of appreciation we show ourselves usually make us think that people around us don’t appreciate us. This misunderstanding can severely affect our relationships with other people as well as our professional life. We talk about peace of mind, but how can we achieve it when our mind is already full of so many chaotic thoughts? We wish for a life with fewer problems, but if we become our own problem, we will have to find a proper solution. And it can only be changed if we start showing ourselves a little gratitude.
There are several reason for you to appreciate yourself. I will list some of them here:
1. You will feel more content with your work. Instead of finding your flaws, you will be able to look at the things you are good at.
2. With self appreciation also comes a healthy lifestyle. You will be able to nurture your mind and body more positively.
3. You will gain more confidence. As you will start appreciating yourself, you will become more confident with your work.
4. You will find happiness in your own company. Instead of feeling lonely because you are “unworthy” of companionship, you will be able to enjoy spending more time with yourself.
5. You will be able to enjoy more quality time with your friends and family.
6. You will be able to focus on your betterment, which will help you become a better person.
7. You will be able to enjoy find new hobbied as well as do all the things in your To-Do list.
8. You will become more compassionate with others and acknowledge them for their work and support.
9. You will not achieve enlightenment but you will find yourself in a much peaceful state of mind which is healthy for your growth.
Remember, showing yourself a little gratitude once in a while does not make you a selfish person. Instead, it helps you become someone better who can look at the world from a better perspective. As I said in the beginning, we are taught the meanings of several emotions- positive and negative- during our childhood, but self-appreciation is something we grow to learn. Ups and downs do come in our life; criticism, backlash, and even negative comments, but we should still try to become better people. I know it’s easier than done; loving and appreciating yourself can be a tedious task for many of you. These tips and benefits that I listed above may not be able to achieve immediately, but there is one thing you can definitely do- try.
Buddha once said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.” We have gotten a life, and that too a tiny one. We know we are mortals so that we will die one day. But there is always a chance of us becoming a better person the next day. And this, we can start with self-appreciation. Whether we can bring a drastic change in our lives, we cannot always say for sure what the consequences will be for our actions every time. However, the only thing we can be sure of doing is to try.
So, try to give yourself a chance. Look at yourself from a different perspective. Who knows, you may end up finding something new about yourself.
Also read: Self Empowerment: A Complete Guide