Having a positive self-image and healthy self-esteem is essential to overall wellbeing. One way to help build this positive self-image, and truly be ‘your own best friend’, is to regularly find ways to build self-pride. And I don’t mean pride in the ugly ‘hubris’ sense, but instead as a virtue best defined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle:
“Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them more powerful, and it is not found without them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility and goodness of character.” Aristotle.
Here are five ideas to get you started on building self-pride.
Become a morning person
The internet is full of lists of ‘things successful people do’, and while they might all subtly differ, one thing they usually have in common is suggesting that being an early riser is a key to success. Being a morning person means, obviously, you create more time in your day, but more than that, many of us are at our most committed, our most energised and most creative in the morning – which you wouldn’t necessarily know about yourself if you usually sleep in!
The Journal of Applied Psychology reports that morning people tend to be more proactive, generally. You could use the time to meditate, exercise, plan, or write long over due letters (real letters!) to friends. The options are endless! So if you can make a commitment to get up earlier, you may find that it’s ‘quality time’, and you’ll have created a space for achievements you can be really proud of.
Practice being appreciative
Practicing gratitude is all the rage at the moment, and people are posting lists of things they’re grateful for all over social media. It’s a lovely idea. The concept of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) works similarly. AI was developed in the US in the mid-1980s. It essentially argues that problem-solving techniques start with the problem, and then trap us there – focused on ‘the problem’. If you can identify what’s already working well, and aim to do more of that, the problems either resolve themselves, cease to matter, OR the mental re-framing you undergo removes the ‘problem’ label from situations altogether.
Examining your life with an appreciative eye is a great way to focus on its positive aspects and feel a greater sense of self-pride. Take 5 minutes (or longer!) to look around your life – your family, your job, your relationships, your health – with an appreciative eye and an inquiring mind. What already works well? What would it take to be like ‘that’, whatever ‘that’ is, all of the time? What steps can you take to do/be/think more of that, more often?
Be kind to strangers
When you give your time or your energy you bring out the best in yourself. It forces you to look outside your own world and hit pause on the self-talk (which is so often more negative than we realise). Projecting generous, kind loving thoughts out into the Universe helps to re-configure, even if only temporarily, how we think about ourselves.
You feel proud when you pay it forward, right? A simple random act of kindness can give me that warm fuzzy feeling that lasts all day. A great way to build self-pride is to do one random act of kindness or charitable thing each day. It could be anything, no matter how small, it doesn’t matter. It could be a gift or donation, it could be offering to help a friend out, it could be rescuing a stranger from some sort of predicament or even getting on board with a crowd-sourcing campaign. Send someone a note or some flowers to tell them you appreciate them. You might even consider volunteering your time for a charity.
The Huffington Post is one of just many sources that report the myriad benefits of volunteering – your physical and mental health, self-esteem, chronic illness, mood and general well-being are all said to improve. They write that on the basis of research findings, “it doesn’t seem far-fetched to think that helping others can provide you with a sense of connection, pride, and perspective”. Spot on! I’ve personally experienced this many times over and the magic word there is pride, because when you’re proud of yourself, you treat yourself with kindness and respect and all sorts of other goodness flows!
Get creative – nurture your inner child
‘Inner child’ theory is something I’ve been aware of for a long time, and it has come up again more recently through reading various books on the subject. Authors like Julia Cameron claim that we’re all born creative – only a short time watching young children play will remind you of this – but life and society gradually squash it down until, for many of us, we’re adults with a repressed creativity that we’re sometimes not even conscious of.
The internet abounds with various techniques to ‘heal’ your inner creative. If there’s a central message, it’s don’t be afraid to just have a go. And quit with the negative self talk about not being ‘naturally good’ at being creative. True artists are those that choose to acknowledge their creativity as an important part of their true selves and invest time in developing and nurturing it. A quote from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way that I particularly loved is: “Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality”.
Taking the time to explore your creativity and nurturing your inner child is a great way to feel more proud of yourself. It really doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s write, paint, draw, sculpt or sew, just produce something. No one need see it and if they do, instead of laughing as you might suspect they would, they’ll likely admire you for having a go. You’re nurturing your inner child by choosing to let energy flow through your fingers and out onto the page/wheel/fabric/canvas. The output and its quality doesn’t matter a damn.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone
I saw this saying recently – “outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens” and loved it. Another example is ‘the comfort zone is a lovely place, but nothing grows there”. The theme is the same – when we find the courage to push ourselves out of our comfort zones – that is beyond the ‘same same’ of our everyday lives, into the scary unknown, we experience real personal growth.
Self-help expert Anthony Robbins writes that human beings have six core needs, and two of these are ‘certainty’ and ‘uncertainty’. Rather than being contradictory, this means that we need a healthy balance of certainty (comfort) and uncertainty (discomfort) to really bring out the best in ourselves.
So my question to you is, where is your comfort zone, and how could you challenge yourself to at least dip a toe outside of it? All sorts of amazing things might happen – scrap that, WILL happen, if you do. At the very least you’ll feel pretty damn proud of yourself.
It’s commonly said that “life is too short” to waste by not taking full advantage of the opportunities it offers. Holding yourself back through self-doubt, or misguided fears of ‘not being good enough’ is squandering these opportunities. The above five ways to build self-pride are just ideas to get you started – what others can you think of?