Over the years, I have beaten myself up over business breakdowns, lost relationships, and countless other failures. I would only look at what I had done wrong and where I was at fault. And, of course, this would only make me feel worse.
People would tell me, “Rob, you need to love yourself.” Wow, that sounded great, but the problem was I didn’t know what that meant. I knew that they didn’t mean that I should be self-absorbed or narcissistic. I also knew it didn’t mean soothing myself with several shots of whiskey.
I understood how to love others—at least the feeling that made me want to give attention, caring, respect to someone—but feeling that for myself? I was completely confused on where to even begin.
It took me years to learn, but I finally did; and I would like to share with you what I found. Here are 13 ways you can start loving yourself:
Acknowledge Your Gifts and Talents. Whether you realize it or not, you have knowledge and skills that other people do not have. Work with your strengths. Find ways to share these with others for fun and fortune.
Be True to Yourself. I’ve previously written about this. Pursue your passions. Find work that you genuinely enjoy. When you do what you love, you will be so fulfilled that you’ll never again watch the clock in anticipation of quitting time. Also, by following your own interests, you will attract people to you who share your excitement, dedication and joy.
Know Your Own Value. Don’t assume someone is better than you. Find ways to assess your skills, abilities, and achievements without comparing yourself to others. Malcolm Forbes once noted, “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” And, when you do see someone who has already achieved what you haven’t yet, try to understand that you cannot know what advantages they started with or what sacrifices they may have made.
Stop Calling Yourself Names. How often have you proclaimed, “I’m such a screw up!” The fact of the matter is that you are not a failure; you have merely not met the success you desired from a particular endeavor. Respect yourself and give yourself a break. As many successful people have observed, “If you're not failing, you're not trying often enough.”
Focus on the Positive. Eliminate your bad habit of only focusing on the negative aspects of your life because it makes those things seem disproportionately important. I have friends who are police officers, and I see how their constant dealing with criminals has tainted their view of people and tends to make them see nearly everyone as bad. Make a habit of observing the good things in your life every day.
Correct Negative Self-Beliefs. Self-perception will affect the outcome of your pursuits and can determine success or failure. Henry Ford said, “If you believe you can or believe you can’t; you’re right.” A positive self-belief will produce confidence and success. A negative self-belief in our abilities will make us flinch in the moment of opportunity. Often we unconsciously broadcast our self-belief which affects the way others perceive and treat us. A hindering self-belief of “I am not good enough” can be resolved with positive affirmations, visualization, and tallying up your successes regardless of size.
Avoid Perfectionism. I’ve also previously written about this. Perfectionism leads to procrastination. Procrastination is all about fear of failure. My solution is to take imperfect action which is better than taking no action. You can always learn as you go along and tweak or correct what you may not have been ready to do when you began. The important thing is taking the first step.
Carefully Choose Who You Spend Time With. You may not have a choice who you work with, but you definitely choose your personal relationships. If you’re spending your free time with abusive people, then you are abusing yourself. Spend your time with loving people who are not judgmental. Pick friends who are supportive, caring, and accept you for who you are.
Don’t Take Crap from Anyone. If you find yourself with someone who is disrespectful to you, let them know that you do not appreciate being treated that way. If they continue, simply remove yourself from the situation. Don’t allow jerks to ruin your good feelings.
Own Your Feelings. People would tell me to “feel my feelings.” Again another concept I had difficulty understanding. The trick is to acknowledge your feelings, and understand they are normal. If you feel like crying - find some privacy and cry. Work to understand why you feel as you do. Don’t numb your feelings with drugs or alcohol.
Don’t Judge Yourself Because You Have Feelings. Having feelings is normal. You should not feel guilty about them. If you have to cry that does not make you less of a man (or woman).
Learn What Your Feelings Are Telling You. Your feelings are communicating important information to you. Just like physical pain tells you when you have an illness or an injury, emotional pain is telling you that something you are doing is not right for you.
Take Care of Yourself in All Areas. Eat well, exercise, get proper rest. Maintain a clean and uncluttered home and work environment. Spend money within your means. When your health, your home, and your finances are in order, not only do you have less to worry about - you are sending a constant positive message to yourself that everything is okay.
Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is an author, humorist/speaker and innovation consultant. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. Robert is the author of ...and Never Coming Back, a psychological thriller-novel about a motion picture director; The Annoying Ghost Kid, a humorous children's book about dealing with a bully; and the inspirational book: Wisdom in the Weirdest Places. For more information on Robert, please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.