How much do you love yourself? How willing are you to answer that question for yourself let alone other people?
It’s a sad reality for many western cultures that people are criticised for daring to love who they are. Modesty and self-deprecation are considered virtues in the minds of many people, none more so than women. Self-deprivation is commonly considered a necessary sacrifice. Some women even wear as a badge of honor for their choice to put themselves last in all circumstances.
Have the courage to accept you are not perfect and few people expect you to be. Have the courage to ignore the views of people who set unreasonable expectations and dish out harsh criticism
The 25 years I spent training, teaching and competing in the martial arts taught me the importance of having a strong sense of self worth. It’s every karate teacher’s job to help their students develop a deep sense of love, respect and appreciation for who they are, what they are capable of and how much they matter. People who love themselves typically want to live and have a lot to live for. Enriched and inspired by life, these are the people most likely to choose to fight for survival if their life is under threat. They are also the mostly likely to strive to thrive.
There is no question the fondness we feel about ourselves is a powerful source of positive energy that fuels our spirit. Equally an absence of self-love can quickly drain our spirit and lead to behaviours that undermine our success. Our ability to respect and love ourselves has a profound impact on our happiness and, ultimately, on our success—not just at work but in all areas of our lives.
So, what are the essential steps needed to build our sense of self-worth?
#1 Have courage
Have the courage to know that loving yourself is not only OK it’s a necessary ingredient for a happy and fulfilled life. Loving yourself isn’t the same as being arrogant or conceited; don’t be afraid that people will perceive you as having an inflated opinion of yourself. Have the courage to ignore your critics – look past their unfounded beliefs and inaccurate perceptions.
Have the courage to change how you feel about yourself. Choose to be proud of who you are and openly recognise your strengths and achievements for what they are. Have the courage to accept you are not perfect and few people expect you to be. Have the courage to ignore the views of people who set unreasonable expectations and dish out harsh criticism.
#2 Commit to creating a happier life
We all have two voices in our minds that compete for our attention. One that tells us we are OK and the other that tells us we’re not. When the ‘I’m OK’ voice in your mind is too loud your ego becomes inflated. When your ‘I’m not OK’ voice shouts louder your sense of self worth and capacity to love yourselves is repressed.
Choose which of these two voices you give power to. Commit to challenging the thoughts that go through your mind – choose those that uplift your spirit and build your sense of self worth and belief. When you are able to choose your thoughts and feelings you will learn to love yourself fully.
#3 Take a dose of self-administered tough love
This is not the time to take open, honest constructive feedback from other people. Leave other people’s opinions with them and ask yourself what your most valuable qualities and talents are as well as how you need to improve. Choose for yourself the aspects you are proud of and those you know need to change. Honestly acknowledge your shortcomings but be kind to yourself. None of us are perfect and we all deserve the opportunity to learn from our experiences, including our mistakes.
#4 Choose to have self-respect
How often do you criticise yourself to other people? “I’m so stupid” is an expression I hear all too often. Many of us are quick to blame ourselves for the things that go wrong and fail to demand fair treatment from others. Thriving in life demands that you set high behavioural standards for yourself and other people. Be clear about how you expect other people to engage with you no matter who they are. Respect yourself enough to strive to be the best possible version of yourself you can be.
#5 Appreciate your talents
Take the time to reflect on all of the things that you are fantastic at. Allow yourself to be completely honest with yourself and appreciate the ways in which you are able to contribute, make a difference and influence the world around you. We all have strengths we bring and our recognition and appreciation of them is an important step toward leveraging our full potential. Unless you are able to see and believe in your own talents, you can’t step up and give things a go.
#6 Create Boundaries
Lots of people are quick, and at times all too eager to point out our faults and failings. These people are also slow to compliment us on our achievements or thank us for our contributions. Choose carefully whose opinions you allow to impact the perceptions you hold about yourself. It’s critical that even in the face of strong opinion and criticism that you decide for yourself what the truth is. Take a firm stance against those who willfully or irresponsibly act in ways that can harm your sense of self worth. At times it may be necessary to walk away from people who undermine your self-esteem and appreciation.
Karen is a highly-regarded author, speaker, advisor and educator in the field of human performance and leadership. She brings a fresh and down to earth approach, advocating a methodology focused on leveraging both talent and energy to drive great results. She is passionate about guiding women to reach their full potential and to step up to the challenges of the business world.
Karen founded HR consultancy Ryan Gately in 2006, after 8 years as Human Resources Director – Asia Pacific with The Vanguard Group. She is the author of two leadership titles, The Corporate Dojo and The People Manager’s Toolkit (Wiley, 2013). Her approach is deeply rooted in the 25 years spent training and teaching karate. She was the youngest person in Shukokai karate awarded a 1st Dan black belt at age 14 and won multiple state, national and international titles.