Is This How You Thank Yourself?
A good friend of mine was a high flying financial adviser and recently I caught up with her over dinner.
“Been busy lately?” I quipped.
She had been working really hard on her production for the past months to qualify for a much coveted industry award. But instead of looking worn out from her frantic schedule, she appeared radiant. I could see that she was really passionate about what she was doing.
“Yes, very. ” she replied, heaving a sign of “happy” frustration while stirring the cup of hot tea in front of her. “But it’s all worth it. I’ve met the quota set for 2 years in a row and the company’s sending me to Korea and New Zealand as incentives. All expenses fully paid.” Her mouth parted into a smile.
When I heard that, I was really happy for her. I was happy for her not because she was going on a free vacation to 2 beautiful countries. Nor was it because she was doing very well in her job, duly compensated with huge commission checks.
I was happy for her because the person that I’ve seen struggling with a tough decision to quit a comfortable, well paying government post 2 years ago, chose to thank herself for one of the wisest decisions in her life by loving and doing the best she could in her newly chosen career!
It’s Not All About Physical Rewards
I know this may sound unsettling for you but showing appreciation to yourself doesn’t always necessary mean pigging out on expensive dinners, going to luxurious spas, buying branded ostentatious handbags or getting the latest tech gadget you see in the market. I know of some people who’ve pampered themselves to such after some personal achievements, only to suffer from post-reward blues. Despite chasing one reward after another, they still felt a sense of loss.
Saying thanks to yourself can be an absolutely private moment where you unknowingly experience a tinge of ease and satisfaction with life. That kind of feeling has the power to sweep you off your own feet and make you even more fervent in your goal pursuit. Especially when it comes during or straight after an immense struggle.
I’ve unknowingly experienced this again a few weeks back. While training up for my 5km marathon, I’ve noticed that instead of feeling fatigued after each run around the stadium track, I end up being more revitalized.
At first, I thought it was the effects of exercising, which was supposed to make you more energized. But week after week, as I continuously challenge myself to run a few more rounds, trying to match the distance to the 5km target, I realized there were other elements driving the energy.
Subconsciously while running, I told myself not to let myself down for having come so far. Out of gratitude for my own hard work, I told myself I need to work even harder for the sake of … myself.
See the connection?
How to Appreciate Yourself The Right Way
There was a spiritual difference between striving hard for that dinner treat or handbag versus YOU. A world of a difference. You can diminish the value of a physical reward but you can’t downplay your own self worth.
Do you deserve the hard work? Yes.
Do you deserve the pampering? Yes.
Do you deserve to be treated better? Yes!
See? It’s all about YOU. It was never about that physical reward outside of you. You can get 1001 rewards but if you don’t feel you deserve it, you’ll never be able to relish the true benefits of being appreciated!
How do you get yourself to feel like that?
(1) Remove that Self Sabotaging Little Voice
You know it exist. Whenever you did something well, instead of saying “hey, good job!”, that little evil you will tell you “OK, you’ve done a not too bad job but don’t be complacent or you’ll slacken! There’s more to come”. Subconsciously, you’ve already acknowledged that there’s going to be more pain after just going through one.
If I tell you there’s another tornado in front of you, after you’ve just been through one, do you think you’ll enjoy the lemonade that was given to you as a result of going through the first tornado?
If your answer is yes, good for you!
But most people will usually feel frustrated. To them, the pain seems never ending. So what’re you going to do if you find your little evil friend lurking to pounce on you again? Here’s a new trick I’ve learned recently. Try saying this 4 phrases to yourself as if you’re speaking to a divine self after filling in the blanks :
“I’m sorry _____________”
“Please forgive me ______”
“Thank you ____________”
“I love you.”
The divine self can refer to anything you regard with a spiritual connection. It can be the God (of your respective religion), life, the Universe or simply just you. When you’re uttering such phrases, you consciously flush out the negative ideas in your mind. This was same approach used by Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len (as described in Zero Limits, a book co-authored with Joe Vitale) to heal a ward of mentally ill criminals without even seeing anyone of them.
For example, this is what I’ll say “I’m sorry if my little evil friend is downplaying my contributions again. I know I absolutely deserve whatever I’ve achieved and please forgive me if I’ve ever thought even for a split second that what he said could be true. Thank you for making me realize this. I love you”.
Skeptical it’ll work? Try it.
(2) Make it A Daily Affair
Be generous and say thanks to yourself everyday. You don’t have to wait for some particular awe inspiring achievement before you start appreciating yourself. In fact, the more you say “thank you” and pat yourself on the back, the less chances this little evil friend is going to appear. Like what they say, you cannot be grateful and worrisome at the same time!
How do you do it?
My advice is, just go along with the flow. For instance what I’ll usually do is to reflect the events for the day while lying on my bed or whenever it flashes through my mind, as if I’m watching a movie. If I come across things that I’ve done well, I’ll smile. The smile is some kind of an self programming anchor use to commend myself for a good effort. Even if there’s a situation where I’ve not performed up to my own expectations, I’ll still encourage myself to learn instead of dwelling on it badly or wishing I’ve never done it in the first place.
And if that little evil friend creep in to add a sarcastic remark or so, I’ll use Dr Len’s technique to keep it at bay. So far, the results has been quite good.
(3) Cool Down Your Grueling Moments
Remember those hero-saving-the-damsel kind of stories? What makes the hero an absolute darling? The fact he saved the lady when she was in some kind of distress!
It’s the same thing when it comes to the art of appreciating yourself. If you’re going through a tough time, such as working late in the office for a major project or studying hard for the mid term exams, give yourself a pat. Complementing it with a physical treat at this time can do wonders!
I remembered there was once I worked pretty late in my last job. I was about to cry out in frustration until I start telling myself “You’ve done your best and nothing matters as long as you put in your best foot forward. Even if the world doesn’t know the hard work you’ve put in, I know. Thank you!” Straight after that, I called a few friends to get some drinks at the bar.
It was so satisfying. Getting appreciated by someone you value.