Tip #128: Become your own source of inspiration.
The Why: In life it’s always good to have role models.
These are the people whose achievements, values or world view inspire us to become better versions of ourselves, people whose life lessons we live by, people who we aspire to be more like.
They can help give us direction, purpose and help define who we are, or who we hope to be.
There are many worthy candidates, from celebrities to business leaders to philosophers to humanitarian workers to political figures to people in our personal lives.
But we rarely ever put ourselves on the list.
It’s easy to see why – if someone told me that their role model was themselves, I’d probably wonder how their ego managed to squeeze through my doorway.
Yet, there is merit to this practice.
Being inspired by yourself means taking the time to assess our values, our principles, how we treat others, our achievements, the things we’ve overcome and shining a huge spotlight on our best qualities.
When you have anxiety, we can constantly worry and obsess as to whether we’re a good person. Every time we make even a slight mistake or misstep our doom-cycles flare up and we can ruminate on it for weeks on end.
Punishing ourselves becomes a habit. A highly unproductive one at that.
But many psychologists agree that the best way to eliminate the bad habits or bad parts of ourselves, is to reward and acknowledge the good, rather than just lamenting what we did wrong.
This is because when we punish or berate ourselves for making mistakes, all that does is make us feel bad about ourselves, and view ourselves negatively. If a person views themselves negatively, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a very dangerous mindset.
For instance, if you think you’re a lazy person, then whenever you procrastinate or don’t complete a task your brain will tell you ‘this is just who I am, I can’t change’. This traps you in a cycle of inevitability and makes it harder to complete further tasks, as it will seem out of character in your perception of yourself. It removes our responsibility, and therefore drive, to change.
However, when we reward ourselves for our good behaviors, this releases the happiness hormones and means that we wish to recreate the good sensation we got from doing something well, meaning we will repeat this behavior in the future.
If we see ourselves as good people who sometimes make mistakes (as literally all humans do), then when we do mess up (which will happen) this will seem out of character, meaning we are more likely to take responsibility and change the negative behavior.
The positive mindset means that we won’t spend so much time worrying and stressing every time we do something wrong – we will just fix it and resolve to do better next time.
So, how do we implement this in our day to day lives?
Step One – Write A List
Mainly because I love writing lists – but I promise this step works.
Take an hour or two out of your day to make a list of all the best things about yourself that you would like to reinforce.
Split an A4 sheet of paper (or a word document) into five columns titled: personal attributes, values, achievements, experiences, actions.
Once you have done this, fill out the columns with all the positive things in your life that relate to that title. Treat it as a deep-insight roadmap of the person you are.
For instance, personal attributes are things about your appearance or personality that you like. So, if you consider yourself dedicated, loyal, love your eyebrows, and like your eye colour – write those down.
Values are rules or principles you live your life by. Writing down what values you hold can give you direction in how to conduct yourself. For instance, if you like that you always try to be kind when you can, or that you donate a certain amount of your income to charity, or that you prioritise family time over screen time, then write those down.
Achievements are things in your life that you’ve accomplished – big or small. Remember, everyone’s version of success is different, so if for you having two children was a goal, write that down, if early a million dollars by the time you’re 30 was a goal, write that down. Achievements can even be things like ‘overcoming social anxiety’ or ‘beginning to write a book’.
Experiences are things that you’ve done that you would like to do more of, or times you’ve tried something new, or what you spend your spare time doing, or amazing moments that made you happy. For instance, going to concerts, attending book clubs, going traveling, visiting historical monuments in your city or town, getting married, buying a dog (or many dogs).
Actions are good things that you do, or have done. For instance, an extreme example could be saving someone’s life, but others could be hosting a charity fundraiser, giving food to a homeless person, making someone an awesome birthday card, volunteering somewhere.
Step Two – Put It Where You Can See It
Hanging this list up somewhere visible means that you can consult it easily, and remind yourself of what’s really important to you, who you are and who you want to be.
Step Three – Reward and Acknowledgement
The next step is, whenever you do something that aligns with the list you’ve written, reward yourself or acknowledge it in some way.
For instance, if you like that you used to volunteer, and you begin volunteering again, reward yourself with an episode of your favorite show, or a take-out, or even a lovely warm bath. Heck, even saying “I helped people today – I made a meaningful contribution to the lives of others” is a reward in itself.
Even just acknowledging that you did something that the kind of person you want to be would do can be a powerful message. Seeing yourself become the kind of person you admire is a beautiful thing.
It’s always so easy to focus on the negative aspects of ourselves, so viewing ourselves differently and actively working to better ourselves can vastly improve our quality of life, our relationships, and our mental health.
Step Four – Inspire Yourself
Now you’ve got your list, the things about yourself you want to build upon, the things you’d like to do more of, you can easily see how you can inspire yourself.
Although it’s good to have a range of role models and people you look up to for different things, it’s also important to be able to see and develop the good within ourselves too.
Of course, it’s important to see ourselves as a whole, the positive sides and the negative sides, but as the old saying goes:
“You can be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”
- Write a list of all that you like about yourself.
- Make it visible.
- Whenever you do those things, reward or acknowledge it.
- Inspire yourself to do better.
By improving and loving ourselves, we inspire and allow others to do the same.