“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself — no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are — completely; the good and the bad — and make changes as YOU see fit — not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”
– Stacey Charter
Positive self-love is not narcissism . It is self- acceptance that leads to self-respect or self-esteem.
We are part of a larger community, society, and nation. The social norms that these entities impose on us can stifle our true selves. More often than not, we are forced to pay obeisance at the alter of conventional wisdom even if our inner selves rebel against it.
The cognitive and emotional dissonances of living two lives- one acting to satisfy and please the society and the other inner life struggling to express itself — can wreak havoc with our physical, emotional and spiritual lives.
When we fail to live up to the market society’s norms, we blame ourselves for our perceived inadequacies and incompetence.
Self-blame or self-censure is a toxic emotion. When self-condemnation becomes chronic it triggers stress which is a poison that spreads stealthily through our bodies leaving behind a cocktail of mental and physical ailments.
When we cannot love ourselves, we cannot expect the world to love or respect us. Over a period of time, we create a vicious cycle of self-loathing inviting disrespect from others. It turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy
Self-awareness is the stepping stone to developing self-respect and self-acceptance. Self-knowledge is a key component of emotional intelligence.
When we accept ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses, it becomes easier to invite good things into our lives. We develop humility and learn to accept others as they are. Our relationships improve as we stop judging others. We develop resilience when adversities strike us unexpectedly.
The greatest advantage of developing self-knowledge and self-acceptance is that we become attuned to the imperfections of life and stop complaining when things do not work out as we wanted.
According to psychologist, Melanie Greenberg, there is an exercise to develop self-acceptance:-
“Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In one column, write down all the things you like about yourself; your personal strengths, difficult situations you have overcome, people whose lives you have touched, personal accomplishments, and values that increase your self-respect. On the other side, make a list of your personal weaknesses or issues that you still struggle with. Perhaps you are selfish, sometimes, or avoid taking responsibility. You may have treated other people in a careless way, or not followed through on your commitments. Disorganization and lack of self-control may have cost you opportunites — you may feel lonely, or heavier than you would like to be. Whatever these issues are, bring them out into the light of day to be examined, and they will automatically feel less shameful. At the end of the exercise, read both the strengths and the weaknesses column aloud. Next, put your hand on your heart and say “i am strong; I am weak. I am flawed; I am broken. I am vulnerable. I am human. And despite these flaws, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being, who uses past mistakes as a fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the person I want to be.”
Read these quotes and do this exercise often. Spend time meditating on the patterns in your life that serve you and those that hold you back. Connect with the pain that disconnection from yourself has caused, and hold it gently in your awareness. By doing these things, you will grow in self-awareness, mindfulness, and compassion. When you learn it is enough to be you, you will also learn to accept and love other people with more compassion and less judgment”.