Have You Praised Yourself Today?

There are days when I think I’m pretty awesome.

I think I’m smart, talented, funny, and wonder how anyone could possibly not like me. Those days are great.

Although I must admit, even then I struggle with worrying that I seem totally full of myself and vain, but I try to push those thoughts aside.

Self-esteem and confidence are not the same as vanity. Confidence is healthy, and when I can actually hold onto it, I try to just enjoy it.

But then there are days when I feel like the dirt underneath someone’s shoe. God I’m annoying, and stupid, and unremarkable and average and...

However, I try to remind myself of the realities of the situation. As far as I can tell, your IQ can’t plummet in a day. You can’t wake up one morning and look fine as hell, then wake up the next day and look like you just came out from the bridge you live under.

Sure you can have bad hair days, or an extra zit on your forehead, or your outfit just isn’t quite on point that day, but that isn’t life and death. Nothing about your self worth changes day by day, except your mindset.

But how does it alter so drastically, sometimes literally overnight? What switch gets flipped in my brain that can change my whole thought process instantly? Am I alone in this? Do other people experience it too?

If I could find that elusive switch and figure out how to keep it turned on, I would be the happiest person on the planet. And I would probably try to make a few million dollars off of the self-help book deal I would undoubtedly get.

But no surprise, I haven’t found that switch. There isn’t one. However, I do have a few things I’ve discovered that help me when I’m feeling more on the garbage side of the spectrum.

I figured I’d share them, just in case they can help anyone else.

The first thing I like to do when I’m being hard on myself might sound simple or even stupid. I like to look through photos of myself. My go-to favourites are my profile pictures on Facebook, because they were by definition deemed profile-pic-worthy by me. I either thought I looked good, or I was doing something fun that I wanted to share with all of my friends.

I like to take a moment to appreciate how I look in those photos, and then try to look at myself as an outsider. “Oh cool, a photo of her dressed up as a pirate, I wonder what she was up to?” “Oh look she’s been on a cruise, she’s done some neat stuff!”

If you don’t have Facebook or Instagram, fear not! Old-fashioned photo albums work just as well. Childhood ones to give you a nice hit of nostalgia, family albums, or I’m partial to travel albums. If they don’t make you feel better about yourself and your accomplishments, they will at least make you happy reminiscing.

The next step I take if that doesn’t work, is that I like to imagine I’m on a talk show.

Bear with me.

I’m on Ellen, or Oprah, or with Jimmy Kimmel, and I’m a guest on the show. I imagine they’re asking questions about me and my life, and I’m answering them. It doesn’t hurt that they’re always enthusiastic about the answers.

Ellen: “So, what do you do, Lindsay?”

Lindsay: “Well a lot of things right now, actually. I’m serving, but I’m also teaching journalism.”

Ellen: “That’s cool! Where?”

Lindsay: “At Conestoga College.”

Ellen: “Wow, a college instructor! How did you land that job?”

Lindsay: “Well, I used to be an anchor/reporter on the radio, so I guess I was qualified...”

Ellen: “And you’re only 26 right? That’s so young! That’s impressive!”

Lindsay: “…yeah. Yeah I guess it kind of is, isn’t it?”

Ellen: “And I hear you’ve done some travelling, can you tell me about some of your adventures…?”

Lindsay: “Yeah I suppose I have been to a lot of places…” 

And so on.

I find this helps me break out of my funk headspace and realize objectively that I have done some cool things. I think about how I would describe myself to a stranger, and if that description would impress me if I was talking about someone else.

When I’m stuck in my own head, I make excuses. “Oh, I only got the teaching job because it was the last year of the course and they were desperate for someone.” But when you look outside of it and pretend there is someone excited to hear about your accomplishments, it makes you realize you DO have accomplishments.

Don’t belittle your accomplishments because it’s YOU that made them. I struggle with that a lot.

You got a job in your field right out of school because something opened up at the right place at the right time? Who cares! If someone else told you they landed a coveted job immediately, you would think they must be qualified, smart and accomplished right? Even sought after.

Say you wrote a book, but it’s just a fluffy romance novel and nothing that will win a Pulitzer prize? Who cares?? YOU WROTE A BOOK! If someone you just met told you they wrote a book, how would you view them?

Whatever you’ve done in your life, try to take time every once and a while to reflect and be proud of yourself.

There’s a saying I like, “Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty.”

I suppose my point is, if you would be impressed with a stranger doing something you’ve done, even if it was easy for you, or a long time ago, or didn’t seem like a big deal, or is just your chapter one when you’re aiming to write a chapter twenty, take a moment to give yourself as much praise as you would that stranger.

Take a moment to browse through your favourite photos, or be interviewed by a celebrity talk show host, or describe yourself in a few paragraphs to a stranger, and see what you come up with. 

It might make you feel pretty awesome.