By Tessa Greenspan (as told to Nanette Wiser)

Thrive Global founder and thought leader Arianna Huffington recently wrote “now is the perfect time to redefine success” and ask if you find your work and life passions still meaningful in these rapidly changing times.

If not, consider charting a new course.

The first step is to think about what makes you happy, she writes.  “The most powerful route to meaning is through love, mutual dependence, and serving others…a feeling that we are a part of something larger than ourselves and in matters of the heart and character, we are created equal. We may not be equal in terms of resources, although some of the most important attributes are spiritual, thankfulness, appreciation, compassion, kindness, patience, faith, morality, and wisdom. These are the qualities that lead to success that does make us happy…Empathy, meaning, and resilience is vital to our well being.”

Finding meaning in work and life begins with learning to love yourself. Too often, we become what others want us to become, a mirror image of others’ expectations. We feel like Cinderella, a sham princess that reverts to a scullery maid at midnight.

Self-doubt and  low self esteem can sabotage your career, your relationships, your health and well being. Here are some signs you need to work on self-love, which leads to confidence. Work on transforming your doubts and struggles into strengths.

  • When searching for a job, you may not feel like you’re good enough or qualified to get the gig.
  • In a relationship, you say yes instead of no, hiding your real feelings and desires behind a crafted façade to please your partner.
  • When you’re exhausted and not feeling well, you ignore the signs and keep agreeing to take on more at work and home instead of carving out “me” downtime.

The first step to defining who you really are, what you really want, is to nurture your inner child. Try looking in the mirror every morning. Say, “I love (your name).” Every day. Believe in yourself, not the naysayers.

Surround yourself with the yay-sayers who like you for who you really are. Pick out five people in your circle that you trust completely, who value YOU for the same reasons you feel you are important. They are your moai, as the Japanese say, your posse, your inner circle more family than friends.

Love and our connection to one another motivates us to live, says my colleague Dr. Deb Carlin. Loving ourselves and who we are helps us find meaning in life. Unbounded low self-esteem can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. There are clear links between the way we feel about ourselves and the overall cost to our well-being.

Self-love is considered an important aspect of self-esteem and overall well-being. Learning to be content with doing your best, not doing it perfectly, contributes to lower anxiety and help you avoid adverse health effects such as irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorders, depression and fibromyalgia.

So how do you begin to love yourself?

  • Don’t beat yourself up over a small error. Learn and move on.
  • Pursue happiness and fulfillment and see it as a fundamental human goal.
  • Quiet your inner critic; do not put yourself down.
  • Cultivate self-compassion. Research shows that it builds resilience in times of adversity.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Write down three things you accomplished every day.
  • Take a break from social media, where you are constantly bombarded. Research indicates that people who spent more than two hours a day on social media had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who self-reported spending half an hour per day or less on social media sites. There was also the perception of social isolation by feeling left out.  
  • Learn to listen to yourself. Keep a journal and write down your feelings. Some things to note? What type of language do you use with yourself when you notice a flaw or make a mistake? Do you insult yourself or do you take a more kind and understanding tone? If you are highly self-critical, how does that make you feel inside?

Self-love can be as simple as making yourself a nice dinner, listening to your favorite musician, walking in the woods or taking a soothing aromatic bath. Call a good friend, tell a joke, plant a flower.

Rather than looking for validation from the outside, self love begins when you tell yourself daily that you are worthwhile. Banish your inner critic and acknowledge love and self-compassion are your birthrights. For more on this topic, tune in to Tuesday With Tessa 11/2/2020.

St. Louis author and motivational speaker Tessa Greenspan’s international bestseller, “From Outhouse to Penthouse – Life Lessons on Love, Laughter and Leadership,” is available on Amazon here.  This inspired personal story, struggle to overcome obstacles and life lessons is especially poignant during these difficult times.  “Failure is not an option,” is Greenspan’s motto.  Follow her on social media and her website  Email her at [email protected]