‘Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.’ – Brene Brown
When was the last time you complimented yourself? Was it recent, or was it so long ago that you hardly even remember? If you’re like many of us, it may have been quite a while since you offered yourself a kind word.
Lots of us find it easy to offer compliments and kind words to our friends. We might notice a new dress or hairstyle, a job well done, or just some pleasant quality about a person and not hesitate to let them know what we think. However, far less often do we offer that to ourselves. Read on to learn how to compliment yourself and why it is so important.
Why don’t we compliment ourselves that much?
Often it’s because we don’t want to seem big-headed or vain. Some of us find it hard to compliment ourselves because we believe the saying that ‘self-praise is no praise.’ We think that to offer ourselves a compliment is somewhat undeserved, but nothing could be further from the truth.
So, if you’re not complimenting yourself regularly (every day is a good start!), then read on. Below we’ll explore how self-compliments are not vain but, in fact, well-deserved and even good for your health. Later we’ll give you some practical tips and advice on how to give yourself the kind acknowledgment you’d so quickly and easily give to a friend.
Why is it important to be kind and compliment yourself?
Kristin Neff, author of Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, explains that kindness toward oneself has profound healing properties. The way we treat ourselves when no one’s watching makes a huge difference in stress, mood, and affect.
Self-kindness reduces stress
If we’re not kind to ourselves but instead self-critical, judgmental, or outright nasty to ourselves, we create an inner atmosphere of negativity and stress. We compromise our confidence, self-esteem, and inherent self-worth and instead create the false belief that our worth is low or that we’re not valid or loveable.
On the other hand, if we treat ourselves as our own best friend, offer kind words, compliments, constructive criticism, and self-compassion. We create for ourselves a sense of worthiness, validation, and love, under which we can not only promote health but actually thrive in life.
Self-compassion helps you live better
Neff advocates for the profound healing properties of self-compassion. Through almost two decades of extensive research into self-compassion, she and her colleagues found on repeated occasions that self-compassion is fundamental to living a healthy, happy, and meaningful life. It’s a means of nurturing one’s self-relationship with love, care, and sympathy for one’s own suffering, rather than the more widely accepted yet harmful approach centered around self-criticism, blame, and judgment.
The power of positive self-talk
Whether you realize it or not, most of your day includes inner voices, messages, and comments about what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and how you believe others see you. These thoughts, what we call self-talk, are more present in some of us than others, but we all experience them to some degree.
The quality of our self-talk determines to a large degree how we feel, though the reverse is also true. When we feel good or bad, our thoughts usually reflect the feeling.
Sometimes when negative self-talk is strong or loud, we might feel powerless against it. It can persist to the point that we succumb to its message, believing what it says to be true. The negative force behind this self-talk is perpetuated when we forget that we do, in fact, have power over it.
You can hack that inner voice by slowing down and really listening to it – not reacting but just taking a few moments to hear clearly what it wants to tell you. Once you hear its message, you may then challenge it. The negative inner-critic usually crumbles under such pressure. It struggles to fight against a calm, present, and grounded self that questions its reality.
Compliments you can (and should) offer yourself
You know yourself better than anybody else, so you know when you’ve worked hard, made a real effort, tried your best, or when you’ve done something out of the kindness of your heart.
What can I compliment myself for?
It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day, to forget about the wonderful nature of being alive and being you, the only you there ever was and ever will be! We forget about the magic of being alive when we lose ourselves to work, to responsibilities, to the mundane and the dreaded parts of our lives, but we don’t have to. We can choose to shift our attention back to the magic, the wonderful, the beautiful, and the awesome.
How do you compliment yourself? Well, you can begin by asking yourself the question, “What do you like about yourself?” Think about this question, or better yet, write it down. In fact, it may help to make a habit of writing down things you like about yourself.
If you don’t already have one, a journal or diary is a great way to see where we’re at in our mental and emotional lives, to compassionately witness how we are, get it all out on paper, and see where we could make some positive changes. Write things down and have some ready-made compliments to use whenever you need to give yourself some love and care.
What do you like about yourself?
- Do you like the way you dress?
- Do you like the color of your eyes?
- Your smile?
- The way you so kindly treat your family?
- The care and compassion you often show to your friends?
- The way you treat animals with such care and respect?
- The delicious food you cook?
- Your impeccable manners when speaking to others?
- The way you can appreciate the little things in life?
- Your hard work in your career?
- Your studiousness?
- Your impeccable grammar?
- Your humor?
- Your great sense of style?
- Your imagination?
- Your intelligence?
- Your eye for detail?
- Your ability to think outside the box?
- Your ability to speak in public when everyone’s watching?
- Your knack for figuring stuff out?
- Your ability to make other’s feel awesome?
- The great example you set for your younger siblings?
The power of positive affirmations
Other than direct compliments about things like the way you look, your successes and achievements, and your compassion for others, you can help yourself feel healthy and happy through positive affirmations. These are statements you repeat to yourself to help you feel more connected with your inherent worth and right to be here and breathe a breath of fresh air into each moment.
Affirmations have profound healing and growth properties. If you’ve ever heard of the law of attraction, you’ll know that the concept is about manifesting things in our lives through the way we think, speak, and behave. Affirmations work just like the law of attraction – they influence our perception and keep us focused on positive, life-affirming thoughts and ideas. Over time, the more we repeat our affirmation, the more we come to believe them as true.
You might be understandably skeptical of affirmations and the law of attraction, but consider the impact of negative thoughts. Have you ever been going about your day, then found yourself thinking negative thoughts of worry, stress, anxiety, or not being good enough, then found that your day took a turn for the worse, and you ended up losing your cool? Way before that, the seed of a negative thought began to grow and led to your ruined day. The same principle applies here. We think, we create and believe a perception, and that becomes our reality.
Positive Things to Say to Yourself
Here are some positive things you can say to yourself every day:
- I love myself.
- I believe in myself.
- I am improving day by day.
- I deserve to be happy.
- I deserve to be treated right.
- I am loved.
- I am proud of my achievements.
- My mistakes in the past made me a better person.
- I do not need to compare myself to others.
- I am capable of overcoming life challenges.
- Being rejected by others is not a problem.
- It is okay to change perspectives.
- I only accept what I deserve.
- I prioritize my overall health.
- I am inclined to learn new things.
- I am grateful.
- I am blessed.
- My life is beautiful, and it gets more beautiful every day.
- I can stand up for myself.
- I leave when things do not serve me.
- I love how I reflect and act on things that matter to me.
- I forgive my younger self for not being able to act the way I should have in the past.
- I cherish myself for who I am.
- I made a good impact on other people’s lives.
- Everything that I do makes me nearer to my dreams.
- I am trying to be the best version of myself.
- I survived all the past struggles.
- I am going to be happier.
- I am leaning toward new possibilities.
- I am not afraid of what is coming.
Not only is it ‘okay’ or ‘acceptable’ to give yourself a few compliments every now and again, but it’s also extremely good for you. Life and each person in it are subject to the random and chaotic experience of just being loved, so on this short but wild ride through life, please don’t hesitate to be kind to yourself, accept your perfectly imperfect self, and be an awesome friend to you.
The world would be a more amazing place if everyone could be kinder to each other – don’t you think? If only we could all show each other compassion, love, care, and support. How peaceful life would be! Well, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘If you want to change the world, start with yourself.’