When I was at school, I didn’t have a group I hung out with.
I wasn’t a loner by any stretch (too damn talkative for that).
I just didn’t … fit in. With any group. At all.
So I floated from one to the other, making friends with some of the kids as I went.
When I was at university, the same thing happened.
I was close to some students, and we studied together. With others, I went to the movies on a Thursday night. The rest were students I saw in class.
It was like that when I graduated and started working in offices. And when I moved to new cities. And when I started my business.
But it wasn’t like that consistently.
And that’s when the inner turmoil began.
When I forgot who I was and tried a different way.
Like the time I decided to get married to please my mum (that was one of many reasons). I saw other people my age doing it. It looked easy enough.
Turns out, their way didn’t work for me. So I moved on.
Or the time I went to a networking event and was given a name tag to wear. And a group of people to talk to. And I had to find a way to connect with all of them.
I hate networking. The word itself makes me feel queasy. It’s not how I roll.
Or when I started my business and I was encouraged to join lots of Facebook groups. Apparently that’s where I’d find clients. Only I found cliques, and etiquette to follow. And chaos.
So I quit them. They may work for some. They didn’t work for me.
Disconnect from what you’re supposed to do starts and ends with acceptance
Of yourself. Your limitations and possibilities.
Of who you were then, and who you are now.
By reacting to yourself with respect.
Of knowing who you are and knowing that’s OK.
Approving of everything you do. With no room for judgement.
By observing your behaviour and acknowledging it without trying to change it.
It’s creating your own mould – not fitting into someone else’s.
When you live with high levels of self-respect – and acceptance – you don’t chase things to find fulfilment.
You don’t look for a fix.
A relationship doesn’t complete you (no matter what Jerry Maguire says).
Another job, a new partner, replacing friends … changing these things doesn’t make you feel better. Or different. Or less alone.
Ferociously searching for purpose in your life doesn’t expose the altruist in you. Because this search, when instigated from a place of low self-respect, is a needy one. A desperate one. An endless one.
But when you approach your life with a high level of self-respect – and self-acceptance – judgement has no place.
Even when your mum asks why you’re not married and how even Asma down the road found someone to marry – on the internet!
Your high levels of self-respect shield you from hurt. They shed a light on how those words reflect who she is. Her experiences. Her world view.
And say nothing about where you should be at in your life.
Or when you receive your annual review at work and are told maybe you should socialise with the team more.
You acknowledge the request and understand its significance for the manager of the team. Simultaneously, you know yourself well enough to realise that changing who you are goes against your core values.
And because you respect yourself, you tell said manager why you’re not overtly social. And find other ways to achieve what he wants for the team.
Because to do anything else would mean you don’t like yourself.
Which brings me onto the main purpose of this article
**whips out clipboard**
Question: What do you like about yourself?
It isn’t something we ask ourselves often, is it?
If I were to ask you to answer that question now, what would you say?
How long would you take to think it over?
Would you chuckle to yourself before you said anything?
Would you say a few things and then stop because you fear you sound arrogant?
Someone with low levels of self-respect and self-acceptance will do some, or all, of the above.
As children, we’re taught to censor our self-praise because it’s not honourable to boast. You don’t need to shout your achievements from the rooftops. Nobody likes a show off.
And over the years, this develops into a suppression of any praise.
We downplay who we are and what we do for fear of taking the light away from somebody else. We wait to be noticed. We crave compliments (and brush them off when we get them).
This seeps into our jobs, and businesses, and relationships.
We don’t apply for the dream job because we don’t articulate our achievements clearly enough.
Hurtful relationship patterns repeat themselves because we don’t feel worthy for someone we secretly know we deserve.
Arguments with family are on replay because standing up for what we believe is true becomes difficult over time.
A smart way to handle all this, and become someone with high levels of self-respect, is to regularly do this exercise I’m about to share with you.
It isn’t a quick fix. You don’t just go through it once. You get better at it the more it’s repeated.
Find a quiet place and give yourself twenty minutes.
With a pen and paper, complete the sentence:
I like myself because …
And write as many things as you can.
Focus on who you are, not what you do.
I like myself because I’m a good parent <– what you do.
I’m compassionate to my children and teach them to be their best <– who you are
I like myself because I work hard at my job <– what you do.
I’m dedicated, loyal and reliable <– who you are
Decide when you’ll do the exercise now.
Give it a try.
Let me know how you get on.