Imagine you are walking by a store and you see a glowing sign with flashing bright lights that say,
FREE ENERGY FOR PEOPLE!
Your first response might be - What the heck is that? But you’d probably be a little curious, right? Who wouldn’t want to gain more energy without having to drink 10 cups of coffee?
What if I told you there is a way to add a little energy burst to your day, and it’s easy. Are you interested now?
THE POWER OF APPRECIATION
Before I get to the secret energy boost, we need to explore appreciation. We all feel appreciation randomly throughout the day, but whether we express it (or not) is another conversation. For the sake of this article, let’s say you choose to express your appreciation by calling up your mom and saying something like:
“Hey mom, I just wanted to give you a call and tell you how much I love you and how much I appreciate you. I recognize daily how tough and caring I am, and I really believe I got that from you. I just want you to know I’m really grateful I got you as a mom and I want to thank you for always putting up with my crap.”
How do you think your mom would feel hearing that?
She might ask a bunch of questions, like - Are you ok? or, What’s wrong? She probably isn’t used to receiving random compliments, but once she gets past the scepticism, she would probably feel really loved, maybe even shed a few tears, right? When you receive genuine, heartfelt appreciation it’s almost impossible not to feel really good afterwards.
Now, think about this: How would YOU feel having given that heartfelt appreciation to your mom, knowing you probably just made her day by simply speaking what’s true in your heart? Personally, I’d bet you’d feel pretty damn awesome bringing some joy to someone you love as deeply as you love your mom. So just a quick recap: When you genuinely express appreciation for someone, you make them feel really really good, and you feel pretty freaking awesome as well, right?
WHERE’S THE ENERGY?
So can we all agree then, that when you choose to express genuine appreciation you give AND receive positive energy. That’s what expressing true appreciation does, it creates good feelings, which in turn create energy.
It’s really that simple to create an internal energy boost, but that’s not the secret sauce. If you can accept that expressing genuine appreciation generates positive energy for both the person expressing appreciation and the person receiving appreciation, what happens when you act in both roles? Or, put another way, what happens when you genuinely appreciate yourself?
That’s right. You get DOUBLE the energy. But if it’s really that easy, why aren’t we constantly appreciating ourselves?
Let’s break it down. Unfortunately, most of us believe that expressing genuine appreciation to ourselves feels a little awkward and strange. That’s how society has structured our beliefs. When we do something well, instead of acknowledging and appreciating ourselves for what we just accomplished, we give ourselves the equivalent of a mental high five and then move on.
Whereas when we make a mistake, we think about it incessantly; constantly going over the play-by-play of what happened, mentally beating ourselves up. Let’s be honest, we can all agree that we spend more time bullying ourselves over a mistake than we do acknowledging and appreciating the hard work we put in that led to a big win. That doesn’t seem right!
LET’S EXPLAIN THIS IMBALANCE
There are two key reasons why this imbalance is present in our lives. First, we’ve been raised to expect we’ll succeed. Whether it’s our environment encouraging us that we will succeed , or our environment encouraging us that we won’t succeed, which in turns makes you want to succeed more. This isn’t a bad belief, it leads to a handful of strong traits such as drive, determination, work ethic, and loyalty. However, it’s this belief that contributes to the imbalance I’m talking about.
When we expect ourselves to succeed and then we fail, it’s extremely frustrating. But when we expect ourselves to succeed and we do, it almost feels anticlimactic, because we did exactly what we expected ourselves to do!
But here’s the thing- there’s a beauty about all of this, and that is that you are an adult who can make your own choices and change this silly pattern. You can CHOOSE to celebrate your successes by committing to acknowledging yourself, because YOU EARNED IT! And there’s a bonus: when you follow through with celebrating yourself, you’re only going to want to succeed more because when you acknowledge and appreciate yourself you feel so AWESOME!
The second element that contributes to the imbalance around appreciating ourselves vs. beating ourselves up has to do with Love. We all require a certain level of love. When we are deprived of love it affects multiple parts of our lives. But we all make ONE BIG MISTAKE when it comes to love. We don’t love ourselves. We make the mistake of expecting our friends and family to fill the part of our love tank only we can access.
Let me give you an analogy: Think of your capacity for love as a box. Imagine there is a divider in the middle of that box that can’t be moved. One half of the box is designated for all the love our friends, family, and other loved ones give you. The other half is designated for the love you give yourself.
There are two stipulations. First, the love you get from your loved ones cannot flow into your side of the box. Second, the only thing that can drain the love box is hurtful comments about yourself.
So, imagining the parameters of your “love box”, how do you feel about your love box? Are you draining your side of it with negative comments, or are you filling it with self-recognition, appreciation, and acknowledgment?
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Now that we’ve explored these negative patterns we have, constantly avoiding appreciating ourselves, it should be easier to create the change you want and generate natural internal energy boosts regularly.
All you have to do is adopt new habits to regularly practice self love. It is a practice, so remember to be kind to yourself. We are all familiar with the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Psychology Today breaks it down into a seven-step strategy that will help support your practice:
BE MINDFUL→ People who express more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
ACT ON WHAT YOU NEED, RATHER THAN WHAT YOU WANT→ By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
PRACTICE GOOD SELF-CARE→ You will love yourself more when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy, and healthy social interactions.
SET BOUNDARIES→ You'll love yourself more when you set limits or say No to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
PROTECT YOURSELF→ There isn't enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the feeling that you genuinely love yourself and life. You will love and respect yourself more if you avoid people that just bring negativity into your life.
FORGIVE YOURSELF→ We tend to be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is that we can tend to punish ourselves too much for mistakes while we’re learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect) before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes, there are only lessons learned.
LIVE INTENTIONALLY→ You will accept and love yourself more, no matter what’s going on in your life, when you live with purpose and design. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish specific intentions to do this.
That’s it! The secret sauce is genuinely appreciating yourself more and bullying yourself less. Sadly, there isn’t a button you can press to get more energy. Some people might believe the secret sauce is bogus, but let’s quickly review the facts. We are harder on ourselves than others, when we bully ourselves we feel bad. When we genuinely appreciate others they feel good and we feel good. Wouldn’t it make sense that focusing on genuinely appreciating ourselves more and bullying ourselves less would make us feel better and more energized? There’s only one way to find out……..try it out!