“Self-esteem literally means what YOU think of YOU, not what other people think of you, or it would be called other esteem or their esteem,” noted author and therapist Marisa Peer.  In her book, #IamEnough, the author encourages all of us to give ourselves the praise that we need an deserve. Her reasoning is sound: “Praising yourself is simply improving your internal dialogue so you can reap the benefits that receiving praise brings – even if you’re the only one giving it.” 

Many of us struggle with the feeling that no one appreciates us or pays attention to what we do.  Author Peer states that our mind responds to praise from whatever source it comes from – whether external or internal.  You can choose to celebrate all that is good about you and your performance without being egotistical or narcissistic.  Here are three ways to do it.

Acknowledge and Celebrate Your Wins (no matter how small)

Most people take very little time acknowledging their wins, and far too much time analyzing their losses.  Think about a time when you got feedback on a presentation.  I’m willing to bet you excused the positive statements and compliments quickly, and focused nearly entirely on the criticism you received. 

Instead of focusing on criticism, focus on what you know you did well.  Use vivid terminology to articulate your successes.  Congratulate yourself and don’t be afraid to celebrate.  Take yourself out for a coffee, an ice cream, or a long walk.  Write about all the things you did well in your journal.  Call your mother or best friend to tell them the good things about your win. You deserve to celebrate yourself.

Talk to Yourself Like a Friend

Many people say things to themselves that they would never say out loud to a stranger, much less a friend.  When you find yourself mired, say the things you are saying to yourself out loud, then ask yourself if you’d talk to your friends that way.  If the answer is no, rewrite your internal script to say something good about yourself. 

Let’s say your training session fell flat, and everyone played on their phones rather than engage with you.  If your mind is saying to you, “You are such a loser!  No one listens to you because you’re boring!” ask yourself whether you’d talk like that to your friend.  Then think about what your friend would say to you in the situation.  She’d probably say something like, “Hey, it’s OK.  You’ve learned that the section on gifts and entertainment needs work.  That’s fine – you’ll revise it.  You did a great job with the rest of it!”  If you wouldn’t talk to your friend the way you’re talking to yourself – change the way you talk to yourself.  Praise what you did well, and ignore the rest.

Make it a Habit

Praising ourselves can feel strange at first, but over time, if we practice the art of looking for something nice to say about ourselves, it becomes a habit.  Every day for the next three weeks, commit to praising something about yourself.  Don’t limit it to work – praise yourself for being a good spouse, partner, friend, woodworker, pet sitter, puzzle-completer…whatever it is you’re good at!  Habits form over time, and by committing to changing how you speak to yourself, you’ll begin to find it easy to praise yourself.  In time, you may even find yourself actively looking for things to praise!

The Outcomes

By acknowledging your wins and talking to yourself like a friend, you’ll begin to reap enormous benefits.  Your confidence will increase, and it will be easier for you to accept praise when it comes from external sources.  When you focus on what you’ve done well, it takes some of the sting out of what went badly, because your viewpoint is more balanced.  It will also be easier to learn the lessons of what can be improved, because you aren’t mired in the shame and self-doubt that comes from constantly berating yourself for your perceived failures. 

Praising yourself brings joy into your life that you control.  That is worth celebrating all day, every day. 

A previous version of this article was printed in Compliance and Ethics Professional Magazine, a copy of which can be found here: http://bit.ly/2pruXDD