Appreciate Yourself More Than You Do

You may find it easy to sing the praises of others but struggle when it comes to appreciating yourself; however, you are just as full of good qualities and unique gifts as the people you admire. You can take some steps to appreciate yourself by recognizing your good qualities and embracing your unique personality. You can also keep a positive attitude about yourself and others, practicing gratitude for all the good things in your life. Finally, you can appreciate yourself by giving back to and connecting with others. Seeing your impact on other people’s lives is a great way to understand and appreciate your value to the world.


Recognizing Your Good Qualities

  1. Appreciate your strengths (and your weaknesses). It can be easy to appreciate your strengths — your sense of humor, or generosity, or analytical skills, for example. And it is also easy to get down on yourself for having various personality traits you perceive as weaknesses — maybe you are quick to anger or always running late, for example. Instead of getting down on yourself for your weaknesses try instead to reframe them as something positive — as traits that make you uniquely you.[1]
    • Make a list of all your strengths. Include the big ones that are huge components of your personality, like your patience, all the way down to the small things you are good at, like juggling or making amazing oatmeal cookies. Read the list and see how many great qualities you contribute to the world!
    • Now make a list of all your weaknesses. Write down things you don’t like about your personality or you feel are negative traits.
    • Look at your list of weaknesses. Think about ways you could see those weaknesses as positives. For example, say one of your weaknesses is that you think you talk too much. You could reframe this to a positive as, “It’s easy for me to express my opinion.” “I’m too sensitive” could be reframed as, “I have empathy for others.”
  2. Stay True to Yourself. To appreciate and accept yourself, it is important to know who you are. It may be helpful to identify your personal values. Knowing what is important to you and making decisions based on your personal values helps you be authentic and appreciate your true self.[2] Make sure your values are your own and you are not simply taking on the values of your friends or family. Figure out what is important to you.
    • Explore which values are important to you and write them down. A concrete list of your values may help you recognize when you are being inauthentic to yourself and your values.
    • You may feel like other people may not like you if they see the “real” you. It may be helpful for you to explore these feelings with a therapist or by writing in a journal. Determine when you feel most yourself and when you feel the need to pretend to be someone else, and explore the differences between those situations.
    • For example, if you feel you cannot be yourself around certain friends or family, perhaps because you fear being made fun of, then it it may be a sign that you fear rejection about revealing your true self.
    • The first step to changing your behavior is noticing when you do it. Pay attention and later, spend some time reflecting on what triggered your behavior in a particular situation.[2] It may take a while for you to feel comfortable enough to be your authentic self around other people. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do it right away.
  3. Avoid comparisons. Comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling discouraged and judgmental. Remember, you generally see only a piece of others’ everyday lives (particularly on social media). Comparing yourself to someone else’s “highlight reel” will only set you up for disappointment and feeling bad about yourself.[3]
    • Measure your growth by comparing yourself to who you were in the past instead. For example, think about your life 10 years ago. Has it changed? Have you acquired new skills, new relationships, or left dysfunctional life patterns behind? If you feel you have stagnated, take some steps to make some positive changes in your life.
    • You can also look at your life now and imagine what you would like it to look like five or 10 years in the future. If you dream of getting a promotion at work in a few years, for example, what can you do today to start making progress towards your goals. Working toward a goal can help you to feel more self-worth and in control of your life.
  4. Take risks. If you are not feeling great about yourself, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone may sound like the last thing you want to do. But taking a risk — whether it'sTry Something New, asking someone on a date, or trying a Recipes for dinner — can help you learn more about what you are capable of achieving. Tap into the skills, knowledge, and tenacity you may not have even known was there — most of the time, when faced with a challenge, we can rise to the occasion to tackle it.[4] Seeing what you're capable of can help you appreciate yourself more and gain a new perspective of yourself.
    • Being challenged and seeing how you can overcome those challenges can help you build a greater appreciation for yourself.
    • You may be worried that if things do not go as planned, this will cause you to feel worse about yourself. But it actually presents another opportunity for you to step up — trying again after a failure shows great character and is something you can really appreciate about yourself.

Maintaining a Positive Attitude

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Practice focusing on the positive in your life by keeping a gratitude journal. Keeping your eyes peeled for the blessings in your life helps you better appreciate all you are, and all you have been given.[5]
    • For example, you could decide to look for five things in your life every day, or every week, for which you are thankful and appreciative. This might include your gratitude for a particular relationship, nature, or even something small like a conversation with your neighbor.
    • There are numerous smartphone apps you can download where you can record your thoughts. They may also have reminders that can help you turn this into a daily habit.
    • An entry in a gratitude journal might look like: “Today I am grateful for the beautiful sunrise, my coworker bringing donuts, listening to my daughter laugh with her friends, my wife’s sense of humor, and getting to the gym.”
    • Consider downloading a gratitude journal app that can remind you to record all the things for which you are thankful.
  2. Be content with less. Don’t look to material things to help you appreciate yourself. Make an effort to avoid purchasing an item that you think will help you feel better about yourself — most of the time, things cannot make us happier long-term. Look for fulfillment within yourself and having meaningful relationships with others instead.[6]
    • Being content with all that you already have helps gets you out of a competitive, if-only-I-had-this mindset that prevents you from appreciating who you are at the present moment. Try telling yourself, “This new thing will not make me better. I already am enough and have enough.”
    • It’s okay to pamper yourself, but try pampering yourself with experiences rather than items. For example, take a vacation instead of buying something expensive that costs the same amount.[7]
  3. Show yourself compassion. Often people are much harder than themselves than they would ever be on someone else — try to treat yourself with the same compassion you would show a friend. If you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, stop and consider if you would ever say those things to a loved one. Self-compassion includes your Listen to and Change Your Self Talk as well as tending to physical, mental, and emotional self-care.[7]
    • Don’t call yourself names or beat yourself up for mistakes. If you catch yourself doing so or engaging in any other forms of negative self-talk, stop an re-evaluate. For example, “No, I’m not stupid for forgetting about that meeting. I had a busy morning and was rushing around.”
    • Instead of beating yourself up, figure out something you could do to do better next time. For example, if you missed your meeting because you were rushing around that morning, you could say, “I’ll start waking up 15 minutes earlier so I am less rushed in the morning. I’ll also put reminders in my phone as soon as I know about an event.”
  4. Stay in the moment. Being mindful and present helps you stay out of judgment of yourself and others. Staying present or mindful means staying focused on your breathing, the sounds and sights and smells around you, and observing thoughts without judgement. The result of this practice reduces brain chatter, which will help reduce any negative self-talk you may have.[8]
    • Staying present helps you stay peaceful. Instead of focusing on all the things you need to do (or haven’t done), you focus on the moment and your breath. Everything else that isn’t connected to the moment (your feelings, your to-do list, your worries) can be exhaled out with your breath.[9]
    • This takes practice, so don't become too frustrated if you don't get the hang of it right away. Stick with it!

Connecting With Others

  1. Volunteer. A great way to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of self-worth is to serve others through a volunteer organization. If you are working with less fortunate populations, it will also help give you some perspective on your life and help you count your blessings.[10]
    • Volunteering can give you plenty of ways to help you appreciate yourself: Studies have shown it to lower depression, as well as increase your happiness, satisfaction with your life, self-esteem, and your sense of control over life.[11]
    • Volunteer with an organization whose vision you support. Figure out how your skill set can benefit their mission. Utilizing your skills to help those in need will help you to appreciate your talents and experience.[12]
    • For example, you could say, “I’m interested in volunteering for your organization. I have an accounting background, and was wondering how we might be able to incorporate my skills into a volunteer role.”
  2. Give to charity. If you need a self-appreciation boost, try donating money to a favorite charity. Studies have found that giving money to others will make you feel happier and better about yourself than if you were to spend the money on yourself instead.[13]
    • If you do not have a favorite charity, considering giving to someone. You could send a friend who is struggling a gift card, pay for a stranger’s coffee, or buy breakfast for a homeless person. These acts of kindness will make you feel good about yourself, and help someone else out, too.
  3. See the good in other people. Looking for others’ positive characteristics and actions will help you better appreciate them and, in turn, help you better appreciate yourself. The good you see in others is also in you.[14]
    • Acknowledge other people’s good intentions, abilities, and traits. Complimenting others will make both of you feel good.
    • You could say, “Susanna, I love how patient you are with kids. You have such a good heart with them, and it shows. All the kids in the neighborhood just love you!”
  4. Let yourself be vulnerable. Talk to people you trust about your feelings or other things that make you feel vulnerable. Chances are, the person you talk to will be able to relate to your feelings and may be able to offer you some understanding. You may feel less alone, and your negative feelings about yourself may not feel so difficult to manage when you realize that many people struggle with the same insecurities.[15]
    • Expressing any vulnerable feelings will help you feel more empowered and less afraid.
    • You could say something like, “It’s hard for me to talk about how lonely I feel sometimes, because I don’t hear other people struggling with this like I think I do. Do you ever feel like that?”
  5. Show others how you want to be treated. People will treat you by the standards you set. If you don’t appreciate yourself, other people will see that in your behavior and treat you accordingly. Set boundaries with others and enforce your being treated with respect.[16]
    • Healthy boundaries allow you to maintain your self-esteem and self-respect.
    • Setting boundaries requires firm, clear communication. For example, if your friend is routinely late when you get together, you could say, “John, it seems like every time we get together you are always about a half hour late. If you are running late, please text me and let me know.”
  6. Accept compliments. Be gracious when someone pays you a compliment. Smile genuinely, make eye contact, and say “Thank you!”[7]
    • Being able to accept a compliment shows that you value and have confidence in yourself.
    • For example, say someone compliments you on your shirt. You could say, “Thank you! It’s one of my favorites!” instead of, “Oh, this old thing is falling apart. I wear it all the time.”
  7. Look for role models. Find other people in your life or in the public eye that you see as people who appreciate themselves and their gifts to the world. What do they do that makes them seem as though they appreciate themselves? Watch them and apply those behaviors to your own life.[7]
    • Ask a friend who has these qualities how they appreciate themselves. You could say, “You seem to really value yourself. What kinds of things do you do in your life to help you appreciate yourself?”
    • If you admire a politician or celebrity, for example, consider taping their picture somewhere where you will see it regularly (like by your computer or on your refrigerator), to remind you that you want to imitate their self-confidence and self-worth.

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Sources and Citations

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