No one knows you like you do, and since we tend to be hard on ourselves, that can make things kind of rough. So how does praise come into play?
Why Praise Yourself?
The day I learned to praise myself is the day everything changed. Okay, that was a blatant lie, and here’s why: learning to praise yourself (a form of self-love) takes a lot of work. It isn’t easy, for some it won’t come natural, and it means retraining your thought process. The good news? It’s possible, and it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you.
I’ve always been my biggest critic. I need to be stronger, try harder, get smarter, love more—this has been a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I care. I want to be better at every single thing I do. The curse is that sometimes it’s absolutely miserable living with my own thoughts that are always yelling at me, saying be better, get better, and do better, now. This little (okay, usually large and in charge) voice is something I came to live with. Now I’m a life coach and realize I made that voice, and I choose to live with it, or not. Getting there wasn’t easy and I continue the fight to this day.
How to Get Started
Knowing I can’t help clients change their thoughts while fighting my own, I learned to praise myself. A “win” notebook is a valuable coaching tool I began to use on myself. I began writing wins for the day. “I was able to do four muscle ups!” or, “I read five chapters!” Some seemed trivial, and the entire experience was awkward at first. The voice was saying, “Well, why didn’t you do five muscles ups?” and, “Why didn’t you read six chapters?” I had to learn to celebrate my wins. Suddenly, the wins started to flow. The voice began to speak more softly and less often. The more I wrote, the quieter the voice became. It was working.
However, it takes more than just celebrating wins. While this helped, it wasn’t enough. I needed more. I soon came to realize just how much this voice was controlling my life. Breathing techniques began to help, too. I noticed I carry a lot of tension in my jaw. A simple trick that began easing this: touch your lip and say to yourself, “calm.” Let the tension melt away. The voice cannot compete with positive and gentle words. Gentle, I needed to be more gentle.
As a vegan, compassion is a part of my daily life. I am kind to all creatures, except myself. I had, and continue, to learn to translate this compassion to myself. Another tip? If you’re being hard on yourself, pretend you’re taking to a friend. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “You can do better,” after they tried their hardest on something. So why would you tell yourself this? I have a good friend who is very small and always so happy. I pretend I’m talking to her when I’m talking to myself sometimes. Instead of being mean, I think of the good that did occur and praise her (myself). I high five her in my mind and let the excitement of “her” validated effort flow through me. I am growing. I am becoming more kind to myself.
In the End
The only wrinkles I want 50 years from now are from smiling so much. I refuse to have wrinkles from needless stress I put on myself. If you aren’t going to be your biggest cheerleader, who will? I learned and continue to learn to say yay, yes, it’s okay, and I’m proud of you. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you deserve praise from yourself—I get that. But you do. You deserve it, I promise you. It’s okay to be kind to yourself. In fact, you need to be kind to yourself if not for any other reason than you deserve it. You deserve a happy, fulfilled, and healthy soul. You deserve to be proud of yourself. You deserve praise from yourself. You deserve love from yourself.
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