You Need to Prioritize Self Love at Work—For the Sake of All of Us. Here’s How.

Self love is required to fulfill our calling. 

Think about Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Ernest Hemingway… Some may argue their callings were fulfilled; others may wonder what else might have been. 

Insecurity and self-doubt may not be as final as death (thank goodness!), but they still rob the world of your riches.  

It seems at first a stretch to consider the business case for self love; however, from improved employee confidence to healthy boundary-setting: Self-love is actually a business imperative

Making the Business Case for Self Love

An organization is a construct. A made-up idea we decided collectively as a society to hold.  It isn’t tangible like, say, a strawberry. For $300, I can go register my business with the state of Maryland and—ta da!—it just magically … is.  

But a business is made up of people working towards a common goal. And those people are very real. As is money! 

Then, what? How does a piece of paper and idea become something more? Much like marriage, you add people!

So, you take money, plus people, plus an idea, and you call it a business. 

Each person must have a sense of self, a mission, a clearly defined purpose and tasks in order to carry out their role in the organization. Self love allows employees clarity in how they are able to show up—and a value system that ensures boundary-setting as they work towards the collective mission in different ways. 

As we pursue our calling, feelings of self love, self compassion and self trust sometimes become harder to grasp—unless we put concerted efforts into reconnecting with them. (Good news: The popularity of personal and professional development, as well as bringing our “whole selves” to work, shows me our society is moving in this direction!)

For me, when I am feeling most deeply aligned with my calling, I am able to see myself for who I am. In turn, I can serve as an example of vulnerability—allowing others to explore the work they’ve sought support in. 

When I consciously practice self love, I am able to see failure as an opportunity for growth. I do not need to be externally validated.  My impostor syndrome voice quiets a great deal. The unlovable parts of myself are loved too, and I stop berating myself for what I didn’t say or what I might have said differently.  In this space of self compassion where I allow myself to be loved by me, I know I am doing the work I was put here to do and learning with each encounter to do it better than I did yesterday. 

As a consultant working with others in change work, conflict, resistance, shame, and identity issues, I often find myself sharing stories of when I too have not been at my best: times I have been immensely resistant to change, or I have perpetuated racist systems even in my work to dismantle them. In doing so, I hope to show clients: When I extend compassion to myself, I remember that all of the work worth pursuing involves making mistakes that bring us to our next and deeper level of doing better work.

And in turn, others feel comfortable sharing their struggles. I see their humanity.  I notice imperfection is human. 

Those who get off that mat can do so because they have learned ways to care for themselves in a myriad of ways. 

When we love ourselves enough to remember why we first loved the work, it ceases to be a labor. 

Getting Started: Self Love Affirmations and Resources

Interested in self love but don’t know where to start?

Here are some thoughts and resources to get the self love ball rolling:

Participate in a Confidence Feedback Process.

Ask some of your friends, family members, colleagues—whoever you feel comfortable with—to give you feedback on a few questions about yourself. 

Be explicit you are working to develop your confidence and so only looking for things to celebrate to start with, with questions like:

  • What am I great at?
  • What do you appreciate about me?
  • What do you value most about me?
  • Do you have any other kind words about me?

I participated in this earlier this year and it was transformative!

Journal.

There are so many ways to go with journaling but do what feels right to you

Gratitude journaling is highly effective

Choosing some things about yourself to celebrate 

Allowing your mind to just be: draw, write, etc

I used to give myself scheduled “worry time” for 45 minutes a day and then used an A,B,C process to help myself delineate out what was truly important for this time
You can also buy journals with prompts in them already, or find great options on Pinterest or other blogs.

Meditate.

Meditation is often made more complex than it needs to be; there are wonderful apps, retreat centers, meet ups and classes. 

You can also literally sit in a chair and stare at the wall. This has the same effect when you are beginning. Just give yourself time for your mind to rest without distraction

Body awareness and body scans are terrific.

Tonglen is a loving-kindness meditation especially helpful for cultivating self-compassion.

Spend Time in Nature.

So many options: walking, hiking, retreats, riding, going for a drive with the windows down, gardening…

(Might I recommend the retreat I’m co-leading March 27-29 outside of DC?)

Other self love practices that have worked for me are:

  • Listening to music
  • Cooking a new food, or my favorite food
  • Spending time with people
  • Spending time on your own
  • Spiritual or religious practices 
  • Exercise of any kind 

If we continue to do the work, our own deepens and we serve clients and mission that much more impactfully.

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Still confused? Or want to talk this through a bit more? I’d love to; this stuff is my specialty. To set up a 30-minute phone chat with a member of our team, sign up here or email ahilb@graymake.com.

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