Yay, me! Celebrating your inner self
A young teenager friend of mine is studying ballet full time at a vocational boarding school in the UK with a view to becoming a professional dancer one day. He has daily ballet lessons, after which his teacher takes each student aside to let them know how they have performed and to give advice on any corrections that need to be done. In the evenings, the boy rings his parents to tell them about his day. They, naturally, ask him what his teacher has said as part of their chatter around how his day has gone. Without fail, he starts off every time by telling them about the one or two corrections he was given in his lesson, only moving on to talk about any praise he received after they ask him specifically about what went well.
While there is something to be said for avoiding tipping over into boastful arrogance, my friend’s instinct to leap to the criticisms first shows an all-too-common propensity amongst the human race to focus on what might need improving about ourselves, rather than celebrating what is already pretty awesome. We are not born with such circumspection around ourselves and our perceived talents and abilities. We grow and develop in our early years by copying those around us, whether it be walking, reading, kicking a ball or learning how to think and what to believe about ourselves.
This blog looks at the life-affirming art of celebrating ourselves and basking in the brilliant uniqueness of our inner self. It is another key topic in Grant Soosalu’s series of explorations around loving your life. After all, if you don’t learn how to love yourself, how can you expect other people to appreciate just how amazing you really are?
The power of positivity
As a general rule, we find it much easier to celebrate positive things about those we love than we do about ourselves. We can become our own worst enemy, comparing ourselves to other people and replaying any awkward conversations or embarrassing moments long after everyone else involved in them have long forgotten they ever happened. This causes unnecessary anxiety that can take hold and prevent you from fully loving your life.
The field of psychology known as Positive Psychology looks at how to use positivity to understand ourselves and help us achieve our goals. Practitioners have found that, by celebrating our successes and acknowledging our strengths, we can increase our emotional strength and resilience to tackle whatever may happen in the future – both good and bad. As we celebrate ourselves, our mood lifts, our energy intensifies and we start to feel a sense of excitement around our abilities, our hopes and our place in the world.
A great way to start celebrating your positive traits is to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and start listing what you like about yourself. You can ask other people to add to the list as well. Write down examples of when these traits made your life happier, for example when you got a job, received a compliment, made someone else happy or learned something new. Surround yourself with friends who do the same – and who are not afraid to celebrate not only themselves, but you as well. By building a life full of meaning, purpose and positivity, you can really start to flourish and thrive.
What will the neighbours say?
I have written before about the power of effective decision-making as part of my reflections on leadership in business. We create our life via the decisions we make, and we can only make truly effective ones that safeguard our future happiness and increase our chances of success if we can learn to love our inner self and not put anyone else’s aspirations and expectations of us ahead of our own. Think carefully about who you are making each decision for. If it is to please or impress someone else, it is far less likely that things will work out how you personally would prefer them to.
Returning to the mBraining idea of your three brains (head, heart and gut) working in tandem with each other, bringing them all into alignment through intuitive, considered analysis will help you make wiser, more rounded decisions that are better suited to you. You will remain authentic to your own inner self, rather than ending up as a slightly faded copy of someone else’s agenda. There are many ways to help you stay on track with this, including making sure that you know what your core values are and why you believe in them, as well as taking ownership of your own feelings and learning how to control them better.
Finally, it is crucial that you understand that you are doing your best and that nobody’s perfect! As soon as you learn not to worry quite so much about what other people think of you, you can enjoy greater freedom in making decisions, following up on dreams and loving the life you lead.
Flying the nest
My young ballet-dancing friend takes huge comfort from relaying his day’s experiences (both good and bad) to his parents each night. Thankfully, they are very supportive and proud of him (even if they do wince at the enormous dance uniform bill from time to time…), and so they are able to provide him with the affirmation he needs to be able to put the phone down and go to sleep with an easy mind. Yet, despite his good fortune in having a loving family behind him, the time will soon come when he will have to step out into his own spotlight and begin the complicated dance of becoming an adult, alone.
Everyone has to make their own way in the world sooner or later, and this is a major step in our journey towards evolving and celebrating our inner self. How we feel about ourselves and our abilities can impact massively in how we choose things like our partner, home and career. Whatever we decide to do, it is crucial that we find a way to embrace who we are, or to ‘step into our authentic self,’ as Grant Soosalu puts it. Even as adults, the pull of what our parents taught us about life is strong and it is up to us to work out how to move on. This doesn’t mean rejecting all that your parents stand for in a fit of adolescent angst. Rather it requires us to take the good from what they taught and showed us without getting bogged down by anything negative or unhelpful.
This is not always easy and it is a never-ending process. The Chilean biologist and philosopher, Humberto Maturana said, “we are not human beings, we are human becomings.” As we become parents ourselves, or come into contact with young people whose minds we are in a position to influence, so the circle of life will continue and our own life’s learnings will pass down to another generation.
What could be a more satisfying outcome than this in our search to celebrate and share with the wider world the joy and positivity of our inner self?
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015, p121
 Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/positive-psychology. Accessed 24 March 2021
 Source: https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-mental-shifts-to-stop-caring-what-people-think-of-you#8. Accessed 24 March 2021
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015, p116
 Source: https://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/papers/maturana/88-reality.html. Accessed 24 March 2021