Strength begets strength. How many times have you heard that phrase as an encouragement to keep going, even when the path ahead seems long and hard? But what if strength itself was something that was hard to come by? What if you feel not only depleted of resolve and power, but also weighed down by the knowledge that those around you don’t truly respect or esteem you?
The truth is, seeking the approval of others to feel worthy and respected can be a heavy load to carry. We can put off building that strength until we’ve “proven” ourselves and earned respect from important people in our lives. But, actually, the opposite is true—nothing builds true strength like giving yourself permission to simply be who you are and own your life. This is where self-esteem and respect come from, first and foremost.
Naturally, this isn’t always easy. Everyone has their own version of an “inner critic,” that little part of the mind that over-analyzes and second-guesses. It can be difficult to stand up to that part of our brains and convince it we are worthy of esteem, respect, and pride in our own endeavours. But here are a few tips that can help open the mind to the idea of looking inward for self-assurance and true strength, rather than outward for validation.
Start With Gratitude
When feelings of insecurity and low self-worth creep in, it’s easy to forget that life can and does bring wonderful things without our needing to seek out outside approval and validation. Take a few moments each morning to think about, acknowledge, and appreciate the things you are and have in this moment. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not being flatteringly perfection yet—it’s a process, not a switch to be flipped instantaneously. Celebrate small victories, and don’t try to achieve greatness all at once.
Forgive Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, everyone slips up, everyone feels riddled with doubt, stress, and anxiety. Rather than burying or ignoring your missteps and self-doubt, learn to recognize and forgive them. Make sure to acknowledge the underlying reasons why you made the mistake or why you were feeling negative emotions.
You could also use this as an opportunity to learn how to pivot onto a more productive mindset. By recognizing our personal flaws and mistakes, we can learn how to work on better ways to engage with our mental space and more easily refocus our attention onto the positive.
Acknowledge Fear While Moving Ahead
We know fear is inevitable. It’s natural and nothing to be ashamed of. That said, it is important to understand when fear is stopping us from growing, and to take steps to counter it. Start by recognizing your fear—name it and then create a plan to tackle it! By accepting what scares you and understanding it, you will become better equipped to confront it and overcome it.
Be Kind To Yourself
Finally, a practice of self-gentleness is key. Too often people criticize themselves that they would never say to another person. When uncomfortable thoughts enter your mind, simply observe them and recognize that those negative voices or judgements need not define who you are. In its place, replace those messages with things which encourage or support your own growth.
For example, try verbalizing an affirmation like “I am capable and I can do this,” or “I’m strong, I’m resourceful, and I won’t give up.” Show yourself the same level of kindness, patience, and understanding you might extend to someone else that you care about.
Gaining respect involves developing a foundation of esteem and respect for yourself. When the focus shifts away from seeking the good opinion of others and back to nourishing your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, you begin to build true strength.
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