With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s a good time to focus on what we’re grateful for. This year, I want to challenge you to express your gratitude a little differently. Practicing gratitude has been linked to many benefits such as reducing stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and increasing self-esteem and productivity. We most often direct our gratitude towards external things or people. But why don’t we ever direct our gratitude and appreciation inward? We all certainly have qualities or accomplishments worth being praised and we can’t always rely on others to do this for us.
The Fear of Vanity
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, we often refrain from feeling positive about ourselves out of fear. Dr. Neff explains that we might be afraid of setting up overly-high expectations, letting go of our habitual negative thoughts about ourselves, or becoming vain or narcissistic. This last fear is especially prevalent since we have been conditioned by society to associate positive inward feelings with vanity. As a result, we are often too aware of or dwell on our faults, which can lead to inner turmoil.
Having self-gratitude and appreciation doesn’t mean that you don’t acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings. It’s healthy to balance sincere praise for yourself and your accomplishments with the understanding that you are not perfect and that you’ll sometimes make mistakes – like all humans. Embrace your mistakes and treat them with self-compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. Accept your authentic self. With this mindset, you can feel positive about yourself while maintaining humility.
So, how can we be better about having self-gratitude? Well, it is a practice, much like self-care, and there are several ways to incorporate it into your life. One way is to keep a gratitude journal or jar where you write down at least one thing a day something you like about yourself. This practice will train your brain to think more about your positive qualities and reviewing your entries can serve as a reminder of them as well. You can also do a daily self-gratitude meditation or mindfulness exercise. As you breathe in and out, think of one thing about yourself you are grateful for. Another thing you can do is to try accepting compliments you receive from others by saying “thank you.” Be mindful of how your body feels when hearing such good things about yourself and try not to question it. Embrace compliments as your default response rather than dismissing them. Lastly, simply saying aloud the things you’re grateful for about yourself can give them more power. The act of speaking these affirmations and hearing them makes them more real and tangible.
Learning to have self-gratitude can be a wonderful way to aid our journey of self-discovery. If you find yourself struggling to find or appreciate yourself, you are not alone and there is hope. I can help you on your journey. I am offering in-person appointments as well as HIPAA-compliant virtual options. Contact me, today.