Extreme Esteem: The art of self-appreciation

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Ancient Roman emperor

Art loved fly-fishing. His casts were poetic, his line threading intricate patterns in the air. It was not catching fish that inspired Art. Art appreciated the masterful creation of the perfect fly, the artistry of a perfect cast, and the blissful solitude of being one with nature.

To me, it seemed that only while fly-fishing did Art enjoy any peace of mind. Art had nurtured a deep and abiding appreciation for his hobby, but sadly had invested far less time developing an appreciation for himself. He died a man burdened by despair, depression, anxiety and a variety of addictions that eventually overwhelmed him.

It’s all right to appreciate yourself. In fact, it’s vital for a happy and vibrant life. Self-appreciation requires you accept yourself as you are, acknowledge opportunities for improvement but, most importantly, recognize your gifts and talents. Now there are some people who might consider self-appreciation vain, egotistical and even inappropriate, but without appreciation, your self-esteem can take a dramatic hit.

Some of the most successful people I have met openly acknowledge their gifts and talents. It’s all right to say, “I’m pretty good at this!” Accepting ourselves and knowing our uniqueness allows us to build upon it. Do it! Critique it! Learn and improve!

When I first started speaking to groups and organizations, it took me a long time to reach the point where I could appreciate my abilities. People would say, “That was a great talk!” and I would blush and deny it was true. One day someone challenged me and said, “If you don’t think you’re good at speaking, you should probably stop doing it.”

Your belief in yourself and willingness to recognize your value establishes the foundation upon which all your achievements will be built. Sure, there’s something to be said for being in the right place at the right time, but without talent and a willingness to embrace it, your life path could well lead to a dead-end. The absence of self-appreciation and self-worth leads to poor self-esteem and a lack of opportunity in your life.

In today’s age of social media, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others and lose faith, believing our work, passion or gift is of less value than that of our neighbour – that we’ve been short-changed in the talent department. Truth be known, few if any of us have been “short-changed,” and with an acknowledgement of our talents and an appreciation for our skills, we can accomplish many great things.

Mastering a hobby and growing to enjoy its rewards takes time. It’s the same with self-appreciation. You learn to love and appreciate yourself, to speak to yourself kindly, to utilize your gifts and work to gradually become the very best you. In the process, you’ll enhance your self-esteem and contribute to making the world a better place.

Starting today, look for things you like about yourself. Years ago, I started packing a small notepad with me. In it, I would write down things I could celebrate. “I am creative – today I wrote a great advertising campaign.” “Today I am resourceful – I changed the oil and filter on my motorbike.” “Today I am insightful – I offered advice to my daughter about her career path.” Like me, you might be amazed by your many skills and talents.

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line,” said legendary comedian Lucille Ball. “You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Appreciate your hobbies but, more importantly, appreciate yourself. Cultivate a love for you. Remember to look inside for approval and appreciation and never outside.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert.

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