I am forever wishing for someone to see and acknowledge me. I wish for someone to bring attention to all that I am doing to hold up the little world of our family, and to praise and thank me for it. I also wish for positive feedback on my body, my clothes, my yoga practice, my parenting, my marriage, and just about every other aspect of my life.
It is like I’m moving through life waiting for other people to tell me I’m doing a good job and I am worthy enough to continue to exist.
It is a crappy way to live - always waiting for someone else’s approval and affirmation for your life.
Part of what makes it crappy is that other people don’t always speak up with approval. I don't allow people around me who tear me down, but certainly there are those with nothing to say about me. I do mountains of work for my children who rarely seem to notice my existence.
But what is worse is that when others do affirm me, I tend not to believe them. My mother is often telling me what a good job I do with parenting or life. My yoga students and coaching clients often tell me how much they get out of working with me. I hear them, but their approval doesn’t translate into my settling into trusting that my life is ok.
Of course, we know the problem here. Someone else’s approval never stands up against our own layers of self-doubt and unworthiness. And looking outside of oneself for affirmation does not lead to self-trust, but only to more craving for praise. It is a false sense of importance rather than a true reassurance.
The question becomes how to
see and affirm oneself.
How not to go looking outside of yourself for praise, but to look inside. In my experience, seeing myself clearly and acknowledging myself is really hard to do!
First it takes an ability to step way back, to get a vantage point on yourself. Then you have to really call attention to whatever it is that you want to affirm. The attention must be compassionate, loving, accepting, and spacious. Without those qualities you can easily slip into self-judgement for not doing or being enough. Finally, there must be an honest practice of actual self-gratitude and acknowledgement. And you have to pause to feel it.
When you affirm yourself - your choices, your actions, your worth and value - you build an inner strength that is untouchable. Self-affirmation weakens self-judgement. It gives you confidence that is true because it is coming from within, not from others. It reminds you of your absolute worthiness. And it centers you within yourself where you can make positive decisions that impact your life and the lives of those around you.
It doesn't matter one bit what anyone else thinks of you. What matters is what you think of yourself. Affirm yourself. Love yourself. Acknowledge yourself and offer gratitude for all that you are in this life and watch your heart open in the process.
An exercise for self affirmation - acknowledgement - gratitude
Take 5 - 10 minutes with a pen and blank paper.
Settle in and mentally step back from yourself. See yourself through the eyes of your best, most evolved Self, or through the eyes of Love, the Universe, or your Higher Power. See yourself as if you are looking in on a struggling human who you really love.
On your paper write: Thank you, (your name) for:
In the third person, acknowledge and thank yourself for anything and everything that comes to mind. Embellish and spell out every detail. Overwhelm yourself with praise and thanksgiving.
When you are finished. Go back and read the thank you note to yourself. Bask in the feelings of affirmation, acknowledgement, and gratitude for as long as you wish.
An example from me. (written as if my highest self were talking to me)
Thank you, Sarah for: doing the dishes for our family, and for taking the time to cook a healthy dinner for my children. Thank you for washing and folding all of the laundry. Thank you for showing up for your yoga students even though you felt nervous today. You really brought them your loving attention and they left feeling better. Thank you for resting my body when you got home. I needed that time away and I feel more energized now. Thank you for doing your best. You are doing beautifully in life.