According to psychologist Nathaniel Branden, the way you judge yourself is far more important than what others think of you. And your opinion of yourself becomes more loving if you live by your own principles.
Why do we feel like we’re not good, beautiful or smart enough sometimes? According to Branden, we are often insecure because we keep trying to meet other people’s expectations and conditions. That’s impossible, and therefore bad for our self image.
We all long for acceptation and love, and none of us are free from insecurities. That’s fine, as long as they don’t overshadow our wellbeing. But when, in the search for appraisal, you let your own values and wishes be obscured, your self esteem slowly crumble apart. Don’t worry: this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of all the sacrifices we make, big and small. If you become aware of this, you can enforce your own values, and you won’t have to lean on others so much to feel good about yourself.
These four tips help you build a stronger self image
1. Try to look at your insecurities in a rational way
This doesn’t mean you have to live your life as an emotionless robot. It means you should see your emotions in a bigger perspective. Just because you feel them, doesn’t mean they are true.
2. But take your emotions seriously too
If we’re insecure or frightened, this is a clear signal: our awareness needs more attention and love. Perhaps it’s time to have a critical look at your values. Or perhaps it’s even time to develop new ones.
3. Practice self conscience
Self love is a universal need, one you can’t satisfy with superficial means – it grows from the inside. See your self confidence as a muscle that will grow more powerful when you take a decision that fits your life philosophy. If you make choices because you support them (and not because someone else expects this from you), you’ll become stronger every day.
4. Protect what’s valuable to you
We see happiness as an emotion, but according to Branden, we have more control over it than we think. Try to live each day from your authentic self – with your own principles and values as signposts, because they will lead your way to happiness. If you protect this authenticity, you will learn to love yourself.
5. The end of ‘I have to’
Are you a pleaser? It helps to realize that there is nothing you have to do. The more you have to do in life (because it’s appropriate, because someone’s counting on you), the more you’ll have to justify your own actions to yourself. You forget what you need, you minimize yourself and your importance. But it’s only when you make yourself into a priority, that you can love yourself.