Thursday, January 05, 2006

The importance of self-affirmation

Many people are in the habit of scolding themselves regularly for real or imagined failures. A big breakthrough for me in my own inner work was when I learned to affirm myself for all sorts of little things and to let go of that scolding voice. Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine make the same point in a section called "Give yourself praise" in their book Five Good Minutes:

You accomplish dozens of things every day. But do you remember to thank yourself? Do you think to reward yourself with some much-needed praise for all the wonderful things you do that often go unnoticed? This morning is your chance to be grateful for all the little things you do to make your life and others' lives simpler and smoother. Make a mental or written list of five things you did yesterday that helped out someone else, and then give yourself a hug or thank yourself out loud. When you take the time to acknowledge all the things you do, you remind yourself that you are a marvelous and magnificent person. Here's what your list might reflect:

* "I am thanking myself for giving up my weekend to clean house."

* "I am thanking myself for going over and beyond my call of duties at work"

* "I am thanking myself for taking such good care of my friends and family."

* "I am thanking myself for being a good friend to others in their times of need."

* "I am thanking myself to taking everyone out for dinner."

You deserve a round of applause and a song of praise every day.
My only concern about the above list is that some of the accomplishments are either too general or too exalted. I try to affirm myself for much smaller things like remembering to put the newspapers I'm re-cycling in the car or getting up in the morning when I'd rather sleep late. We all need acceptance and affirmation. By learning to give these to ourselves on a regular basis, we will actually end up doing a better job of affirming others.

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