What is it like to really, truly value yourself?

It’s always been a difficult concept for me, but one I’ve worked hard to accept. I know very few people that really value themselves – which is not only having great self-esteem, but also taking care of yourself. I can think of one acquaintance who I think does value her own person and, in declaring it so, often comes across as a conceited know-it-all. That, I think, is the danger most women are trying to avoid when they really believe in themselves.

But my acquaintance isn’t conceited. I know her well enough to know she doesn’t believe she is better than anyone. She just believes she is great and worthy. And she doesn’t care what people think about her, so she is willing to say that she likes herself and she thinks she’s pretty awesome. It’s a symptom of our (my) own lack of self-worth that we can hear someone say that and think, “how self-centered!” The key to avoiding being conceited is to also value others.

Valuing me has meant trying hard to acknowledge the stuff about me that IS great. I have no problem whatsoever valuing other people. In fact, I’m quite good at staying focused on their positive qualities (often to my detriment – we have to see the whole person!) while self-reflecting only on my negative traits. One way to do this is to actually set aside time to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

For example:

rather than beat myself up for missing work to go to physical therapy, I applaud myself for taking the steps I need to care for my body and the time I prioritize to do so.

rather than avoiding looking in the mirror because I feel haggard, I stop and admire how great I look under the circumstances. And sometimes I think, “I’d like to do my makeup.” I love my lipstick and making my eyes look “kapow!” That is an act of self-care to me.

rather than regretting the time lost on a Saturday afternoon to do other things, I take a nap because I need it.

rather than listening to the voice that says I’ve accomplished nothing at ___ (fill-in-the-blank), I silence that negative notion and tell myself three things I did achieve. Even if I’m scratching the bottom of the barrel (i.e. “I got out of bed”), I let myself celebrate that I did it.

rather than struggling with a resume or bio because I don’t think I have much to add, I review what people I know have on their resumes or LinkedIn. I let myself see that I have done the same or even more than what they have shared!

It’s an ongoing struggle for me and I sometimes rely too much on other people to help boost my self-esteem. Over the years, though, I’ve learned who I can trust to be my surrogate “me” voice in my head. When I’m feeling worthless, I reach out to them and ask for the support I need. In a matter of time, I am back on track allowing the voice in my head to be the support I need for myself.