And I Like That About Myself: An Experiment with Self Appreciation

Brene Brown quoteI came across this article and it reference a line in Something’s Gotta Give that I’d never even noticed. As I read through the rest of the post, I agreed silently that women (and men) should know what they like about themselves and be proud to agree and say those things out loud. As a matter of fact, I wanted to go right away and tell everyone I knew to start saying aloud what they loved about themselves. And for those who struggled with identifying those things, I wanted to challenge their thinking. I wanted to help encourage them until they did realized there were things that made them truly amazing and unique that they did like about themselves. And then I realized something; I didn’t want to do the exercise myself.

I am often a champion of confidence and security for others and then hide away, shrinking into insecurity for myself. I want us all to feel confident and empowered and I preach that to others while sometimes ignoring opportunities to empower myself. Upon realizing this, I forced myself to stop right then and do a quick exercise that I’m going to encourage you to do today as well.

I’ve just recently started journaling. Not the “Dear Diary” sort of journaling…this blog is basically my diary. Instead, I’ve started to journal when I feel anxious or find myself rumbling with something. I’ve even done a bit of writing to my intuition where I physically write out a question to myself and then write out the first answer that comes to me, often identifying what my gut is telling me rather that letting my overactive mind fill in all of the blanks for me. Through journaling, I’ve been able to chill out regarding some things I get worked up over and identify “answers” to things that I over-analyze.

On this day, as I realized that I didn’t want to admit that I liked some things about myself, I took to the journal and I’m going to challenge you to do the same today. Before you start panicking over the logistics and details – this does not have to be something official. Just grab a scratch piece of paper nearby and a pen and scribble down the first things that come to mind. You can repeat this exercise later if you think of additional or “better” things. As a matter of fact, if this is an area in which you struggle, you might consider making it a habit.

At the top of your paper write the following:
I choose to appreciate the things that I and others love about me. It’s easy to make a list of the things I love about myself. They are:

Then begin listing out things below, adding “and I like that about myself” to the end of every statement. Do not skip this step. It’s important to become comfortable with saying those words – that you like, or even love, things about yourself. An example could be as general as, “I am a great cook, and I like that about myself.” Or as specific as, “I make fantastic spaghetti, and I like that about myself.” Do not put too much thought into this. Write down everything that comes to mind and keep going until at least one page is filled. Again, it’s ok to not think of specific things right now because you can do this again later. Just keep writing and put down on paper everything that you can think of in the moment.

There is one other thing to think about before you begin. At first, my list was going to be full of work related things. I’m really great at a lot of aspects of my job and have always appreciated my work ethic and determination. However, I’ve recently admitted that I have a bit of an addiction to work and use hard work and accomplishments as somewhat of a crutch. Therefore, I’ve realized that a lot of the confidence that I’m known for lies in those work related areas. I dominate at work and my confidence there is evident. It’s easy for me to take credit for the things I’m good at, admit that I like those things about myself, and acknowledge my successes. (I can similarly admit to what I’m not good at in the career arena.) If you’re like me, and feel particularly confident in one area of your life, try to fill your list with other things you like about yourself. The idea here is to challenge how you think and improve how you talk about and to yourself, so push yourself away from the initial comfort zone you might gravitate to. Instead, think of things you like about yourself in areas where you’re maybe not quite as confident.

floral journalFor the sake of full disclosure, I’m sharing my unedited, first list with you. I am practicing being courageous through vulnerability, which is not something I’ve been good at in the past. To practice being vulnerable, I’m sharing the full list I made without adding, taking away, or editing. Understand that I struggled with this exercise and didn’t feel comfortable writing several of the things at first. However, my goal was to challenge myself and become comfortable with actually liking things about myself. I’ve stalled enough. Here’s the list:

  • I know how to make most people laugh, and I like that about myself.
  • I host good parties, and I like that about myself.
  • I have a great business mind, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m not afraid of taking some risks, and I like that about myself.
  • I wear cool things, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m awesome at thrift shopping, and I like that about myself.
  • I have a great eye for cool things, and I like that about myself.
  • I can transform the energy in a room, and I like that about myself.
  • I give great advice, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a good mentor to young women, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a good decorator, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a good driver, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a good writer, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a great conversationalist, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a writer, and I like that about myself.
  • I think creatively, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m a problem-solver, and I like that about myself.
  • I’m authentic and show integrity, and I like that about myself.
  • I make delicious chili, and I like that about myself.

There you have it – my complete, unedited, unaltered list of things I came up with on the fly. Yes, I know that writing is duplicated. Again, it’s unedited. I’ll also be honest and admit, sharing the list here was almost as hard as writing it in the first place! Being vulnerable is hard for me in itself. Taking that vulnerability to the next level by admitting, mainly to myself, and to the world what I like about myself is especially hard. As I mentioned above, I tend to place most of my self-worth in my work and accomplishments. By forcing myself to sit and quickly make this little, insignificant list, I had to consider other things that I am good at. I had to admit what small and large things I like about myself.

I just realized that I didn’t include any physical qualities or anything about my appearance. Your list might not include any of those items either, and that’s ok. However, let’s also make a habit to speak candidly with ourselves about what we like about our bodies instead of focusing on the things we don’t like. This seems like it should be a list making exercise of its own…

cat vase with flowersGo ahead now. Make your list. Write down the first things that come to mind that you like about yourself. These shouldn’t be things that others have mentioned. This is about you and your own thoughts of yourself. Don’t stop writing – just make the list of everything that comes to mind. Then, spend some time looking back over it and agreeing with your instincts. Don’t judge yourself or try to talk yourself out of things…just revel in the compliments you gave yourself and use them to encourage yourself towards a good week.

How did it go? Was it hard or easy? Were there things that surprised you? You don’t have to share your list, though I’d love to hear how the exercise worked for you!    

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