What do you do when you appreciate someone for what they have done?
Most likely, you would say, “Thank you”, or you would be nice, kind and courtesy towards the other person.
But how many times do we say “thank you” to ourselves? How many times do we give thanks to our body for functioning properly? Not many times I guess.
Self-appreciation is about turning the kindness you give to others inwards.
The Meaning of Self-Appreciation
Self-appreciation is a not a commonly used term. Most people confuse self-appreciation with self-esteem and self-confidence. But self-appreciation is actually very unlike the other two.
Self-appreciation is not the same as self-esteem.
Self-appreciation is the process of appreciating yourself. Appreciating yourself is about being grateful for yourself. You can be:
- Thankful that your body is functioning properly.
- Grateful that you are given your natural talents and gifts.
- Appreciative towards your weaknesses too.
For example, even though I’m not good at leading a team or negotiating a deal, I do appreciate my quiet and reflective nature as an introvert.
Self-esteem, on the other hand, is a personal evaluation of one’s self-worth. It’s a judgment. Esteem itself is defined as respect and admiration. If you value yourself as someone who’s worthy of respect and admiration, then you have high self-esteem. If you don’t, then you have low self-esteem.
People could have strengths in something, but they may not value them. The same strength could be valued differently by two people.
Take the introvert as an example again. One may think being quiet is good, while another may think it’s a bad trait to have. Self-appreciation is neither of those. You don’t judge your introverted nature as good or bad. Because a quality can be both a strength or a weakness under different circumstances. You are just grateful to have what you are given.
Being self-appreciative is not the same as being egoistic.
Also, there’s nothing egoistic about self-appreciative. Some may think, “I can’t toot my own horn. I’ll be so conceited or arrogant. Praises and acknowledgment should come from someone else.”
But that isn’t true. Unlike self-esteem, which may have an element of egoism involved, self-appreciation is all about being kind to yourself. Dr. Kristin Neff called this Self-Compassion in her book of the same title.
When you appreciate yourself, you don’t enhance your self-image.
You are just thankful.
Our bodies come in different shapes and sizes. People who are appreciative of themselves, would treat their body with kindness and make the best use of what they are given.
On the contrary, people who are driven by their ego would judge their body as either beautiful or ugly. If their body isn’t the same as the self-image they desire, they would shape it to what they perceive as perfection. And that’s nothing wrong with having a better-looking form.
Your body’s main job isn’t to make you look beautiful.
But when you are self-appreciative, you don’t judge the form you are given. You are just grateful for that your body is still functioning. Grateful to be able to breathe. And grateful that your heart is pumping blood to your whole body.
Your body’s main job isn’t to make you look beautiful. That is a job your ego assign to it. Its job is just to keep your form alive.
Why Do You Need to Appreciate Yourself?
Recently, I saw a photo of a Mother’s Day cake. On the cake, it writes, “To the greatest mother who ever lived in the history of the world.” But below the photo, there’s a caption: “My mother ordered her own cake this year.” This is what I called self-appreciation.
Don’t wait for other people to appreciate you.
If you have done a great job as a mother, father or teacher, you don’t have to wait for others or a special day to acknowledge your effort. Why not appreciate yourself first for your effort?
Most of us let others determine if we are good enough or not. We let other people determine our worth and happiness. But appreciation doesn’t always come. Just because you put in time and effort in something, doesn’t mean that others will appreciate what you do.
What if no one appreciates what you have done? Does it mean that what you have done is worthless? Are you going to blame them for not being appreciative?
Instead of waiting for or seeking approval from others, self-appreciation is a better choice. Because it’s something within our control. Furthermore, people are more likely to appreciate someone who appreciates themselves.
How to Appreciate Yourself?
1. Don’t wait.
Like with you don’t wait for others to appreciate you, you don’t wait till you achieve something great before you appreciate yourself. Do it now.
You don’t have to achieve anything to appreciate yourself.
There are simple things we or our bodies do or have which we can be appreciative of. These are things we pay the least attention to when we are busy and things we most likely to take for granted. When it comes to appreciation, it’s important to see what we have, and not what we don’t have.
Start with all your body parts — the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the ears, all your fingers, and toes. How do you use them in your daily life? What roles do they play? Then, proceed to your inner organs such as your heart, stomach, and lungs. Can you be thankful for them too?
2. Use kind words.
Being appreciative for yourself is as simple as using kind words on yourself. Change how you speak to yourself. Think of the language you would use when you are being appreciative towards someone else. Use the change language on yourself. Use less of those words that creates judgment and drama.
There is an opportunity to appreciate every time you want to beat yourself up.
When you forget to do something, instead of scolding yourself, why not appreciate all the times when you did remember to do the things you plan to do? Humans tend to focus on their mistakes and forget all the times when they are doing things right.
Being aware of how you speak to yourself will help you to appreciate yourself more.
3. Keep a gratitude journal.
Using a gratitude journal have many benefits. One of which is to help you uncover things which you have taken granted for about yourself. Having a fixed schedule to write your gratitude journal would also remind you to appreciate yourself.
Appreciating yourself frequently makes it a habit.
Not only does having a gratitude journal let you review what you are grateful for over the years, it helps you develop the habit of appreciating yourself. Once you have developed the habit, you would realize that even if you don’t write your journal daily, you would naturally appreciate yourself more.
4. Give yourself a gift.
Giving yourself a gift is one of the best ways to show yourself appreciation. You can be like the mother who gave herself a Mother’s Day cake.
Gifts can be something material such as a cake, a new phone, a car or a holiday. It can also be something simple such as taking a break from work, walking in nature, giving yourself a massage or hugging yourself.
Give yourself a gift, not get yourself a gift.
You may be wondering what’s the difference between buying yourself something you desire. The difference is the intention and feeling behind it. Instead of buying something because you want something, you do it from a place of giving and appreciation. You give because you want to give thanks to yourself.
When you give yourself something, you have to receive too. The act of giving and receiving feels great. But when you desire something, you expect to get it. It’s a feeling of anticipation. The feelings between the two are very different.
5. Be yourself.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate yourself is to just be yourself. Only someone who is appreciative of themselves would allow themselves to just be. They accept who they are as a person. Having weaknesses isn’t a big deal to them. They know what they have to offer others and know when to step back.
So there’s no need to hide from others or be someone they are not. They are just appreciative and grateful for all that they are given.
Question: What are you appreciative of yourself? Let me know in the comment section below.
Featured Photo Credit: Happy in nature / Steven Vanden Broucke