You won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you need to be a priority to yourself. Practice respecting yourself, caring for yourself, and becoming a reliable part of your own support system.
When it comes to the importance of self-respect and self-care, there’s a lot to say. But let’s lighten the mood first by beginning with this:
A puppy thinks: “Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a warm, dry home, pet me, and take good care of me…
… THEY MUST BE GODS!”
A kitten thinks: “Hey, these people I live with feed me, love me, provide me with a warm, dry home, pet me, and take good care of me…
… I MUST BE A GOD!”
Same situation, different thinking.
To a great extent, we make our life stories by our thoughts. The truth we ultimately live is a process of our daily thinking. And when we think better about ourselves, we live better in spite of the challenges and limitations we face.
Of course, as human beings our lives are far more complex than that of a puppy or kitten, but how we think about ourselves still makes a world of difference. Which is why it’s vital to bring more awareness to your inner dialog and what you believe to be true about yourself — your self-respect and self-care feedback loops. For instance, over the years I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve caught myself thinking and believing, “I’m not good enough!” simply because I wasn’t having a good day. Can you relate at all? To a degree I’m sure you can, because we all do this to ourselves in some way. You’re not all that different from me…
You have a story — an inner feedback loop — about yourself (or perhaps a series of them) that you recite to yourself daily. Your story is about who you are, and not all of it is true, kind, or helpful — you have a chubby tummy, your skin is too blemished, you aren’t smart, you aren’t lovable… you aren’t good enough. Start to pay attention when your inner dialog starts chattering — when you feel anxiety about being who you are — because it affects everything you do. Realize that this chatter isn’t real, it usually isn’t true, and it certainly isn’t YOU. It’s just a train of thought that can be observed, and an opportunity to remind yourself of the truth.
Start by admitting to yourself that you’ve spent a lot of your life subconsciously betraying yourself. Thinking you’re not enough. Wishing to be someone else. Someone who fits in, who’s less sensitive, needy, and flawed. Someone who is less YOU. Because you felt broken and didn’t want to scare people away. You wanted everyone to like you, so you could be seen as worthy and lovable… so you could feel more healed and whole. And so for the longest time, behind a facade of fake smiles, you have inadvertently betrayed yourself for the purpose of pleasing everyone else. And for longest time, your heart has ached.
But now you’re seeing things differently, right?
Betraying yourself like that just doesn’t make sense. And more than that, you now realize that no matter what you do or how you change, some people will never be satisfied anyway, and some situations will never nurture your soul.
You now realize you have to start doing things for the right reasons!
Not because it’s what you think everyone else needs, but because you finally know yourself to be worthy of your own respect and care.
Not because other people approve of you, but because you are breathing your own air, thinking your own thoughts, and occupying a space no one else ever could.
You may have been beaten down by adversity, or sidetracked by rejection, but you are not broken. So don’t let your subconscious mind, or anyone or anything else, convince you otherwise. Respect and care for yourself by refusing to betray yourself. Choose to stand out, to do what you know in your heart is right. Choose to appreciate yourself for who you are, accepting your quirks entirely and sincerely…
Choose to always reflect on the truth:
1. You are not what happened to you in the past.
You are not your past experiences. You are not your scars. You are not what someone else once said about you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again today.
2. You are more than any one broken piece of you.
We all have this image in our minds of ourselves — this idea of who we are. And when this idea gets chipped or broken in some small way, we tend to broadly internalize it. Realize this. It’s easy to feel like everything — ALL of you — is broken along with that one small piece of you. But that’s not true. Because you are more than one thing — you are many wonderful things! And remembering this can help you stretch your identity so it’s not so fragile — so it doesn’t shatter when a small piece of it gets chipped.
3. Other people’s opinions of you are rarely 100% accurate.
People may have heard your stories, but they can’t feel what you are going through today. They aren’t living your life! So let go of what they say about you. There is great freedom in leaving others to their opinions. And there is a huge weight lifted when you take nothing personally.
4. You are as worthy as you believe yourself to be.
You will never find your worth in another human being — you find it in yourself, and then you will attract those who are worthy of your energy. Meditate on this. Accept and acknowledge your own worth today. Stop waiting for others to tell you how important you are. Tell yourself right now. And believe it.
5. You aren’t as kind to yourself as you could be.
Honestly, the best time to be extra kind to yourself is when you don’t feel like it. Why? Because that’s when doing so can make the biggest difference. In the end it’s not what you say to everybody else that determines your life; it’s what you whisper to yourself every day behind closed doors that has the greatest power and influence.
6. It’s not too late, and you aren’t behind.
You are exactly where you need to be. Every step is necessary. Don’t judge or berate yourself for how long your journey is taking. We all need our own time to travel our own distance.
7. You have come a long way.
The trick is to embrace life today. Be right where you are. That’s where your power is. There’s a time and place for everything, and every step is necessary. Just keep doing your best, and don’t force what’s not yet supposed to fit into your life. When it’s meant to be, it will be. You’ve come a long way already, and you’re still learning and growing. Appreciate your progress, and the next immediate step in front of you.
8. It’s OK to not feel OK all the time.
Sometimes not being OK is all we can register inside our weary minds and aching hearts. This emotion is human, and accepting it can feel like a small weight lifted. Truth be told, it’s not OK when someone you care about is no longer breathing and giving their amazing gifts to the world. It’s not OK when someone you trusted betrays you or let’s you down hard. It’s not OK when you’re emotionally drained. It’s not OK when you’re engulfed in grief like you’ve never known before. Whatever your painful season of life consists of, sometimes it’s just NOT OK, and that’s OK. You don’t have to feel good all the time. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, and give yourself the space you need to breathe.
9. You need to distance yourself sometimes (to see your situation clearly).
Step back. Give yourself space. Sometimes the most important thing you do in a whole day is the short rest you take between two deep breaths. Take those breaths, and that rest, when you need to. Just let go for a moment and remind yourself that the strongest sign of your growth is feeling a little less overwhelmed by the daily stress that once used to completely consume you.
10. You are a work in progress.
It’s wild how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Life keeps leading us down worthwhile paths we would never travel if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith — trust the journey. Continue to be a work in progress, and celebrate the fact that you are! (Note: Angel and I discuss this further in the Success chapter of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”.)
An exercise for feeling better and improving your inner dialog.
If you feel like you’ve been struggling with your inner dialog lately — if that inner feedback loop of yours is cycling self-deprecating stories instead of empowering truths like the ones listed above — this quick actionable closing exercise is for YOU.
Use the simple phrase “The story I’m telling myself…” as a prefix to any self-deprecating thought that comes to mind. Here’s how it works:
Perhaps someone you just met didn’t call you when they said they would, and now you’re thinking, “They forgot about me because I’m not good enough for them.” When you catch yourself feeling this way, use the phrase:
“The story I’m telling myself is that they didn’t call me simply because I’m not good enough for them.”
Then ask yourself:
- Can I be 100% certain this story is true?
- How do I feel and behave when I tell myself this story?
- What’s one other (more positive) possibility that might also be true?
Give yourself the space to think it through carefully. Mull it over, mindfully.
On the average day, I bet your answer to question #1 is “no,” and your answer to question #2 is “not very good.” And I hope question #3 gives you the perspective you need to embrace a more empowering truth about yourself and your situation.
Now it’s your turn…
Yes, it’s your turn to let the truth sink in. Remind yourself of it — read the reminders above — again and again, especially when you catch yourself in the middle of a self-deprecating funk…
One day at a time.
One reminder at a time.
Empower yourself with the truth — YOUR truth!
And before you go, please leave Angel and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Which one of the points above resonated the most today?
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