by Dr Amelia Stephens
Recently, I was talking to a friend about preparing for a self-care event that she was due to speak at as part of her work role on that day. She was admonishing herself for leaving things to the last minute, and feeling the tension of not being as prepared as she would otherwise have liked. The lack of pre-preparation now meant that she felt ‘squeezed’ into doing things within a certain timeframe, which I am sure we can all relate to.
What I reflected on in this situation, and shared with her was that I could see that she had simply not been appreciating the importance of what it was that she was about to bring with this presentation, and therefore allowing the necessary space to prepare for it and really ‘nail it’. Totally ‘nailing it’ in this sense would mean feeling completely prepared prior, no rush or anxiety in the lead up, and the presentation simply flowing from one part of her day to the next, with the space afterwards to really reflect and feel the importance of what had just been shared (i.e. appreciate herself some more). This might sound like a completely unrealistic scenario, as it is just not how people live their lives at present. Rushing from one point to the next and already thinking about the next thing we need to do (or haven’t done) is the norm, and therefore our lives are often filled with tension and/or anxiety.
Here we can see that appreciation requires space, and that without this space, and therefore appreciation, our lives can be cramped, rushed and somewhat dull as we move from one moment to the next in our very functional capacity. This function has an end point though, as we all know, and rushing long term can lead us to the many and various manifestations of exhaustion and depletion. Ugh.
What if we allowed more space for appreciation within our days? What if appreciation was seen as fundamental as eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom? How different would our lives be?
I, for one know the impact that introducing even the smallest amounts of appreciation of myself can have within my days, and the paradigm shift that can happen with my moods, outlook and relationships with others as a result. I also know the counter to this, which is self-doubt, glum moods and not finding much joy in anything really – the complete opposite to how I know I can naturally be.
So, as a measure of love to myself, I decided to focus on starting and finishing my days with appreciation. This means that just before going to sleep, or from the moment I wake up I place emphasis on finding something that I appreciate and value about myself or my life. This task has not always been an easy one, and may be a foreign concept to many, as this is certainly not something our society consistently displays (and in fact is quite the contrary with the constant imagery that tells us we are not enough as we are).
Finding something we appreciate about ourselves can be as simple as a loving gesture we showed towards another human being, or indeed ourselves that we can recall. The importance and impact of both of these within our current lives and social circumstances cannot be underestimated.
Asking our nearest and dearest to reflect something that they appreciate about us can also be a great exercise, for you and them. Building appreciation in our relationships is key, and helps to mitigate the arguments and division that can otherwise play out.
Imagine if our country leaders introduced true appreciation into their communications and leadership strategy – what a different world we would live in!
Appreciation is fundamental to our lives, and has many ways and forms of expression. Start to look for it more in your day today, and how you can potentially bring it to another. You may be surprised at the result.
Inspired by the Week 6 Theme of the Esoteric Yoga Stillness Program for Women – ‘Self- Love and Appreciation’.