It can seem out of place to discuss self-love in a business setting, especially if you are in a leadership role. But most leaders get it, that self-awareness is crucial for their effectiveness. The truth is, when self-love is part of our lives, self-awareness is easier to attain. Self-love gives us a foundation of positive and supportive thinking towards our own thoughts and actions. This affirming stance then gives us the courage to recognize our biases and assumptions, and take the needed steps needed to improve.
It is far more common for us to believe, as we have been taught, to judge ourselves and push ourselves with criticism and judgment. Our culture thinks this harsher approach is better at motivating us to “just snap out of it and achieve more!” Today neuroscience and positive psychology are amassing enormous research that proves the reverse is far truer. So a little self-love goes a long way, not just for greater self-awareness, but for greater achievement as well. Below are some ideas to help you get started on cultivating a self-love mindset.
Remind Yourself that Everyone is Unique
You will never be exactly like someone else. Nor will they ever be like you. If you keep trying to be someone else, you will never love yourself as you are. So, start your self-love journey by letting go of any idea you are not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, or any other sort of enough. Look instead at what your strengths are, your unique skill sets, and then play to those. If you want to improve in an area, go for it, but don’t make your self-worth dependent on that improvement.
Some of you will cringe at the idea of being grateful in the face of life’s messes and challenges. It sounds so Hallmark-ish. Many people find it difficult to cultivate self-love because they always look at what they don't have rather than what they do. If that sounds like you, notice gratitude is really shifting where we focus our attention. Lack of gratitude makes it difficult to love yourself because you feel like there is always something more you should have or be doing. An abundance of gratitude, by contrast, doesn’t make us complacent. In fact, it gives us a sense of confidence we can create more of what we do have, and continue to grow with self-love and intentionality.
Talk To Yourself Positively
You will never love yourself while you are talking to yourself negatively. The problem is that 95% of most of our thoughts are negative! So, turning that inner chatter into a positive channel demands practice. It is almost impossible to shut down the negative stream – trying to do so often results in it getting louder. However, what you can do is notice it, and practice mindfulness in the moment for just few seconds. Become fully present by noticing your breath. Then consider some positive outcomes. Slowly your brain will shift its habitual banter.
Focus on Self-Care
Chances are if you are struggling with self-love, your self-care is lacking as well. This is because self-love and self-care go hand in hand. So, if you find yourself always running out of time for yourself, now is the time to make some. We all know it would help us to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. And we also can feel blocked by our work and family demands. The trick is to try making micro-movements, like getting to bed just five minutes earlier, or rearranging our environment so there are only healthy options readily available. Self-care is really about planning to succeed.
It can be difficult to imagine that we can reach certain levels of success and achievement and be lacking in self-love and self-awareness. Yet what I find is that our success tends to be externally focused and motivated. Most of us don’t take the time to determine what we really want, or what gives us joy. When we increase our self-love, we begin to see ourselves again for the first time. And when we do that, we tap into the insight, and energy every leader needs to function at the highest levels they are meant to do.