I was in a retail store, and instead of buying clothes for my video shoot, I struck a conversation with the store manager, Stephanie, a beautiful 24 year old young lady who recently moved to LA from Utica, a small town in upstate NY (we bonded about the fact that Utica is only 15 minutes away from my alma mater). Even though I was a complete stranger, Stephanie confided in me that she had a very stressful day and that she was experiencing a downward pattern in her life. She wasn’t feeling confident about her performance at work of late, which obviously made her feel very insecure about herself. I, on the other hand, evaluated Stephanie as just the opposite: accomplished, smart, articulate, ambitious, and a wonderful example for young ladies. I was actually inspired to meet such a “together” young lady. Feeling bad that she was unnecessarily down on herself, I engaged in a 20 minute conversation trying to boost her self worth and help her to recognize it.
How often do we beat ourselves up over and over again impulsively like second nature? We are our own worst enemies. No matter how wonderful our qualities may be — beautiful, smart, successful, compassionate, generous, kind, etc. — we can always find our own achilles heel. When we put ourselves down for not being good enough, we don’t feel or behave with confidence, which in turn prevents us from taking important actions and steps for ourselves. And because we haven’t taken the appropriate action, the outcome is not getting that job or raise or significant other we really deserve, and we end up making excuses for our failures, justifying in our minds that, indeed, we weren’t good enough for those great opportunities.
Women, who have a natural desire to fulfill the nurturing role, are the most harshest on themselves because they tend to put everyone else first. They are the primary care takers of their children, husbands, and homes, so they are hard wired to put their needs in the back seat. And women, who also fulfill the bread winning role and are the A type personalities who can “do it all,” can be the most critical of themselves because they are such perfectionists. While putting others first is noble and admirable, it is not serving the best interest for yourself or for others whom you care and love. Because if you are not taking care of yourself, how can you be in the position of taking care of others? If you are mentally, emotionally or physically sick, how can you be useful to anyone? The airplane safety analogy is perfect: if the air pressure drops, you are instructed to put on the air mask first before you can help others because if you pass out, you will be good to no one. It is a simple concept to help yourself first, but we have a hard time internalizing and practicing it.
When you have drained all of your energy taking care and thinking of others, you will be good to no one, so it is IMPERATIVE to make time for yourself. This is your number one priority if you are going to be the best mom, wife, husband, father, employee, friend, et al. Take time out for yourself and create a realistic schedule, perhaps 30 minutes per day or 3 times a week. Even in the midst of our crazy busy lives, we all have time for ourselves if we make it a PRIORITY to do so. I stress priority, because that is what prevents us from taking care of ourselves. Most things in life can wait, so if you know and truly accept that taking care of yourself is the best investment for you and your family, you will take immediate action. Take the yoga class you always wanted or the spa treatment or the golf classes or simple as the bubble bath. Make a list of what you would like to do, plan it, and mark it in your schedule. Take action to do it this week, not next week, because procrastinating will lead to inaction. Work out a schedule so others can watch the children while you are able to take time out for yourself. It is in the nurturing of yourself, that you are able to nurture others and the world.
Once you realize and embrace your self worth, you will emanate a calm, beautiful energy, which everyone around you will recognize. If you do not see yourself as deserving, then I assure you no one else will. To Stephanie, who inspired this article, if you are reading this now, it was a pleasure and honor to meet you. Know that your story truly inspired me and that your worthiness is measured by you and you only, so give yourself credit for being fabulous. Love thyself and the universe will reciprocate in kind.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living