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Learning to Love Yourself: A Lesson in Self-Praise

Pregnancy in the mirror reflection

As I write this, I imagine you sitting there, favorite beverage in hand, stealing a few minutes of quiet to yourself. Or maybe it’s actually not so quiet, but the bustle of activity around you continues to draw you deeper and deeper into what you are reading. Either way, I want you to know that right here, right now … you are enough.

That’s right. You. Are. Enough. So take another deep breath and relax here with me for a minute. I’m not about to tell you all the ways your mindset needs shifting. I’m not even going to tell you all of the reasons you should love yourself more. I’m simply going to ask you: What was the last thing you thought about yourself today?

Now here’s the important part … was it kind?

You’re probably wondering why that even matters right now. You are selfless; you care about leading your team and seeing results in your business. You may even be thinking that you don’t have time to read this right now if it’s not about them.

But …

What if you’re worth it? What if you are actually worth the same time, attention, and care you expect your business to give to your team and your customers?

Leadership icon John Maxwell says, “If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else?” Let that sink in for a minute. As a leader, it’s important to lead yourself before leading others. And leadership looks a lot like love—love that can be defined as selfless, or like the way a parent loves a child.

The way a parent loves a child: Now that is a wonderful way to lead your people! It’s also an amazing way to lead yourself. Think about hurtful words you may have said to yourself. Now imagine saying all of those things to an innocent child. You couldn’t. You wouldn’t dare! Now this is the same feeling I want you to carry with you when those unkind thoughts enter your mind the next time. When they raise their ugly head, I want you to repeat to yourself, “I wouldn’t dare speak to myself that way.”

You are precious. Worthy. Valuable. Likeable. Lovable. If you’re having a hard time believing all of that, it’s OK. You’ll get there.

 

Have you ever seen a young child beg for attention? Many are bold enough to cry out “Look at me, look at me!” as they seek praise and approval. As adults, we are so eager to praise these little ones. Think about your dance classes with young students … They are praised for twirling, for standing on their spot, for skipping across the room—pretty much just for existing! Somewhere deep down inside, there is still a child in you crying out for praise and approval. The problem is that as an adult, you receive minimal amounts of praise. And even the praise you do receive, you probably reject on some level.

Did you know that you will not be able to receive praise from others if you cannot praise yourself? This is a life-changing concept from author and renowned therapist, Marissa Peer. You practice self-praise by praising yourself for little things like getting out of bed, getting a workout in, choosing a healthy snack, and having that difficult conversation. You can literally say to yourself internally, “Good job, I’m proud of you.” Maybe it feels inauthentic at first, even silly. But it will also be profound. The first time I practiced this, I couldn’t believe how it felt. I had raked myself over the coals thousands of times. I had told myself my work wasn’t good enough. But I had never, ever spoken this kindly to myself. I’m sure the same is true for you.

Self-praise is not about waiting for yourself to hit that huge milestone or accomplish that goal; it’s about celebrating yourself for the small, ordinary moments in your journey. Self-praise can completely transform your mindset and produce self-love.

As a leader, a mindset-shift like this can impact your influence exponentially. Your personal practice of self-praise can extend to your whole organization, creating a culture of praise that leads to a new level of productivity and better results. But before you extend this concept to others, I encourage you to spend at least 21 days of practicing self-praise on your own. Do the deep work on yourself first, and it will naturally ripple out to those in your world.

If you do nothing else, I would encourage you to start praising yourself today. Remember: You are likeable. You are lovable. You are worthy. You are a priority today and every day.

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