I would like to open up a powerful dialogue about a subject rarely discussed in the context of work. Self-Love. While you may find many posts on LinkedIn about building your business, improving your leaderships skills, keeping up with trends in technology and management, self-love is the underlying driver for bringing your best self to every situation and certainly worthy of some exploration. It is also the most challenging in our professional and personal development.

While we work hard to show up at work and feel as if we are making a positive contribution, we are also bringing to work our history. That history defines to a great extent, how we truly feel about ourselves. It is influenced by the home we grew up in, how we perceived ourselves in reference to others, what messages we received  either spoken or unspoken about our worth and how all of this is organized in the brain.  Let’s face it, if we don’t love and care for ourselves how can we possibly be the leader we want to be and fully realize our potential?

Persona vs. True Self

I think it’s important to make a distinction here between “persona” and “true self”. Our persona is that mask we all wear to make ourselves appear to have it all together, to seem competent, hard working, caring or for some of us their persona is ruthless, demanding, unyielding, and fear driven. Whichever persona one chooses, we must ask ourselves “what is driving this persona?”. Often times it is our ego working hard to protect us from perceived harm. Even the persona of the happy-go-lucky person in your office may be using this as a way to protect themselves.

“True-Self” (the foundation of self-love, if you will) is something far more difficult to get a handle on. Why is it difficult to grasp?  We are all processing millions of bits of information about who we are from the people who raised us, taught us, work with us, influence us through the media and how we filter this information. I like to think of true-self as something I referred to in a recent post The Power of Kindness.  In this post, I talked about “Basic Goodness”. This was taken from Buddhist Psychology and simply means that inherent within each of us is the innocence and pure nature of goodness. It is hard wired into our DNA and to prove that this exists all one needs to do is spend a few minutes with a happy child. You look in their eyes and see that beautiful smile- unaffected, uninfluenced by the difficulties of life and when in the presence of this energy what do most of us do? The genetic inborn DNA that remembers that child within us, filled with wonder and excitement, gets activated. Basic goodness is in all of us and it is not concerned with how smart we are, how much we earn, where we live, what kind of car we drive and most important what others think about us.

Remembering Your Sweetness

I had this experience yesterday when two of our friends stopped by with their three year old daughter, Stella. She was absolutely living in the moment. Laughing, playing with us, sharing her thoughts (hysterical, by the way) chasing the cat. Where does that part of us go as we get older and how can we reconnect with it in a way that it is present in our daily lives including our work life? I have a few practices that can help you reconnect with self-love and I would predict that as you allow this part of yourself to be more in the forefront and let your persona take a break, your work experience will improve dramatically. That includes your work relationships, productivity, stress, sense of fulfillment, and overall well-being. I would also predict that if you are in a leadership position your leadership skills will dramatically improve. You do know the right thing to do. You are your best counsel, all you need to do is listen and take action.

Self Contemplation Exercise:

Below are some suggestions on how to get the ball rolling and activate the self-love key. Start with some writing around the following questions:

  • Which persona(s) at work and home are most dominant in you?
  • Do they serve you or do they feel like they are there to protect you? If you believe they are activated to protect you then perhaps contemplate what they may be protecting you from?
  • How often do you find yourself having negative internal conversations or comments about yourself? (they usually fall into the category of I’m not good enough. This can show up as negative comments about your appearance, intelligence, finances, personal relationships)
  • Spend a few moments every day listing 3-5 things you love about yourself. If you are feeling particularly brave, ask a few trusted friends or colleagues what they love about you. I bet you will be surprised by what they see in you!
  • Reflect at the end of the day on those moments when you put others needs before your own- those with a strong sense of self-love are often paying attention to what others may need. *Not only do they see it, but they act on it.
  • Make a conscious decision to identify the large and small ways you give yourself love (ex: listening to and acting on those internal messages that guide you to making choices that are good for yourself and others)this could be as simple as the food you choose to eat or how you treat a co-worker you have a tough relationship with.

Above all, remember that the habit of self-love can take time to cultivate, especially if it is unfamiliar to you. So many of us have been threw really heartbreaking stuff. Finding self-love amidst the feelings of being a causality of our circumstances is probably the hardest thing you will ever do—but no doubt, repays in ways we can not yet imagine.

Amy Green, CEC, PCC- Amy has been helping clients improve the quality of their professional and personal interactions for over 17 years. Amy brings an array of diverse experiences to her practice and a compassionate understanding  of the challenges currently facing our changing world. Amy brings to her coaching an ability to delve deeply beneath the surface to explore and identify meaning, challenge and life purpose for developing leaders.

To contact Amy for a complimentary consultation please email amy@dynamicpotential.com or call 541-382-9364.