If you have been dealing with anxiety for a long time, you have probably started to identify yourself with this emotion. And while you are focusing on being worried and anxious you are overlooking all the positive qualities you express and share with others on a daily basis. How often do you simply assume that it’s normal to be a good parent, a reliable employee, a decent human being, and a caring friend without really appreciating the value of your efforts and contributions?
Appreciation is not only a polite gesture, but it’s also a reward or gift for what we have done for others. Imagine you work for someone who expects you to be there at all times, but takes you for granted. Worse, instead of appreciating you, your boss either criticizes your efforts as not good enough or completely ignores you. Sounds like drudgery, right? But don’t we often treat ourselves the same way?
As you already know, in many ways, our subconscious acts as a faithful servant, always ready to follow our conscious guidance, eager to protect and please us. Naturally, the subconscious thrives with appreciative feedback, whereas constant criticism and negative input can lead it to feel despondent and to distrust the authority of the conscious mind. Every animal trainer understands that positive reinforcement with a little treat is the best way to teach an animal a new skill.
Unfortunately, for most of us, self-appreciation is a highly underdeveloped skill. Early in our lives, well-intended messages such as “Don’t feel too good about yourself,” or “Pride goes before a fall” cause us to believe that praising ourselves only leads to arrogance and complacency and consequently failure. But to overcome anxiety, we need to build confidence and trust in ourselves, which is why self-appreciation is such a powerful tool.
Every night, write into a special notebook at least three things you appreciated about yourself on that day. For example, acknowledge your sense of humor or your creativity. Recognize when you are compassionate and kind or when you take the time to stop and enjoy the beauty of a moment. Be specific and note what particular incident made you feel good about yourself today. What we focus on increases – until it becomes our identity.