Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Honor Yourself Day!

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This past Sunday I luxuriated in the pampering I received from my sons and husband as we celebrated Mother's Day. Here in the U.S., families honor their mothers on this May day. We commend and uplift these women for all of their labor, nurturing and support.

As I enjoyed a special breakfast, homemade cards and flowers on Mother's Day, I began to wonder why we tend to wait until a special occasion to honor ourselves.

What does it mean to honor yourself? How can honoring the self help strengthen self-esteem?

As I consider these questions, I recognize a certain amount of hesitation and inner resistance to the idea of bestowing upon myself distinction and appreciation as a regular habit.

After all, I don't want to be self-absorbed or egotistical!

Blocks to Improving Self-Esteem
It is this belief that serves as an obstacle for many who would like to strengthen their sense of self-esteem. We don't regularly honor ourselves, in part, because it seems somehow self-centered and even narcissistic.

People who are openly proud of themselves frequently get labeled as vain or self-absorbed. One website lists their picks for the Top 10 Egotistical Celebrities with the subtitle “They just love themselves.”

Loving yourself is egotistical? Really?!

If you've ever tried to be in a love relationship with another person without loving yourself, you probably know that it's almost always a sheer disaster. As the saying goes, if you don't love yourself, nobody else will either.

With a low self-esteem, it is also nearly impossible to get hired for the job you really want or receive the promotion you've been eyeing.

To regale your own self as a stellar human being who contributes wonderfully to the world is a pretty powerful thing to assert. And the positive ramifications of such an assertion might just shock you!

Your weak sense of self-worth might be rooted in childhood messages you received. Perhaps you were given the message that you are nothing special or that you always fall short of the mark.

Even if you have primarily heard loving, esteem-boosting words from others, it is essential that you feel it from within.

As much as your friends and family want to support you and help you to feel better about yourself, if you don't buy into the truth that you are worthy and valuable, their words will not be received.

Revel in your strengths.
Even after you've given yourself permission to honor you, improving your self-esteem might still seem challenging. If so, make it your job to notice your own strengths.

Try to take on the viewpoint of the observer. And I'm not talking about an observer who is critical! Think of a benevolent observer who loves you completely and with no strings or conditions attached.

Each and every day, notice at least 1 thing about yourself that you consider to be worthwhile and valuable. It might be the kindness you showed to a stranger by holding open a door. It could be the way that you love and care for your pet.

It's ok if some of the strengths that you are noticing about yourself pertain to your job or some other activity. But be sure to dig deep in your observing. See if you can discover aspects about you that have nothing to do with what you do.

It is also self-esteem boosting to give yourself credit for improvements and movements you make toward your goals.

Embrace yourself for the wonderful being you are.
As you get into the habit of noticing your strengths, allow yourself to really feel into that noticing.

When you start out, it's kind of like dipping your toe in the water of a beautiful hot spring. Dipping in your toe is a great start. This is the observing you've been practicing.

You can then start to ease more fully into the feelings evoked by this noticing and soak into them. Immerse yourself in loving and appreciating you for who you are.

As you begin to honor and embrace yourself, you might only be able to extend those self-valuing feelings to parts of who you are. Allow yourself to expand from where you are.

Boosting your self-esteem can happen in a series of self-honoring steps. As you choose to take each step, let yourself really feel into the aftereffects.

You'll probably find that this honoring thing feels pretty good!

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