The Introspective Salon
When I receive positive feedback or affirmations from other people I view it in incredibly high regard. I ride the high of that stamp of approval from others, but it's not as often that I can do that for myself. I'm incredibly stingy with my own stamp of approval.
In order to work on my own personal battles, I've had to become highly self-aware. I've had to be critical of myself so that I can grow. I think that has caused me to be even stingier with my own approval because, in most situations, I know that I can do better. I know that I'm more capable.
I wouldn't give up being self-aware though. Recognizing my own insecurities and challenges has allowed me to change, and so much for the better. However, I would like it if I could be more willing to recognize my positive attributes. I would like it if I was less reliant on the approval of others so that I could sustain myself longer on my own approval.
When I was working as a para in a charter school, I needed to rely a lot on my own stamp of approval. I didn't buy into the discipline system of that school. I didn't respect much of the authority there and most of them weren't going to give me any kind of approval because I wasn't yelling at kids for minor behavior infractions or shhshing classes as they walked down the hallways. I had to believe that my view on how adults should interact with children was right. I had to be a bit of a bitch about it and think myself superior. I had to approve of the way I chose to interact with the students. When I was able to do that, I felt great. When I was able to sit outside for a few extra minutes after recess with a child who was tired and just asking for a little bit of extra attention, I was able to give myself praise. When I was able to let a child take a nap in the classroom because I could tell he was sick, I was able to give myself a stamp of approval. When I was able to tend to the students the way I thought was best, despite feeling pressure from the culture of the school to do otherwise, I rode the high of my own approval the whole day.
Self-praise is easiest for me when my actions align with my values. So, on those days that I said phooey to the harsh culture of that charter school, I was able to give myself mounds of approval. I think this makes sense, but I also think that's why I'm more often so critical of myself. I have strong convictions, but self-praise is needed even on days when I don't rise above every challenge. That doesn't mean there's no room to evaluate and reconsider how I'm spending my time, how much I'm living up to my values, or think about what I can do better, it just means that I can give myself small approval. My own approval shouldn't always have to be contingent upon the monumental. When I feel better about myself, I work better. When I work better, I feel better about myself. Being critical of myself may be necessary for growth, but approving of myself is also necessary.