Why Loving Yourself Is The Best Strategy for Academic Success and Beyond
Self-Hatred: A Recipe for Success and Disaster
I used to hate myself. And to be honest, there are parts of me that still do (I'm working on it). Surprisingly, hating yourself can actually be quite an effective strategy for accomplishing, achieving, and attaining success. For example, take a student that is terrified of looking stupid. If they ever look stupid, even for a moment, then they judge themselves harshly and hate themselves for looking stupid.
"How could I be so dumb?!" they lament.
Now, they have a very strong motivation to never look stupid, so they study hard to ensure that never happens to them. A report card full of A's later, and voila! Success is achieved.
Self-Hatred can lead to success. But it doesn't last.
They get the good grades, but at what cost? Now, they constantly have to worry about looking stupid, potentially for the rest of their lives. In the instances when the self-hatred strategy fails, their ego will immediately take a hit triggering all sorts of anxiety and stress, and they will crumble.
I mean imagine a work environment where no matter how hard you tried, no matter how hard you worked, no matter what kind of success or positive results you got, your boss always hated you and berated you at any small mistake. Would that be a place you would want to work? I didn't think so.
So what's the alternative?
Why Self-Love is a More Efficient Strategy
I know touting self-love as an effective success strategy may sound like 1960s, hippy, peace, love, and rock n' roll talk ✌️☮️ but hear me out.
Let's envision the alternate scenario. You work at a place where your boss is very forgiving of your mistakes, supports you through tough times, constantly cheers you on, and reminds you of all of your amazing qualities while still holding you to high standards. Doesn't that sound like a much better place to work? I thought so.
When students start loving themselves, this is the kind of work environment they create. Instead of bashing themselves for every little mistake, they decide to learn from their mistakes. Instead of studying hard to avoid some catastrophic embarrassing event, they study because they want to treat themselves well by learning as much as they can. Instead of acting out of fear, they act out of joy.
The best part is that those straight A report cards are not only possible, but also easier to attain. Voila! Success is achieved.
How Students Can Start Loving Themselves
1. Stop Using Negative Self-Talk
When many of my students make a mistake, they say things like "That was so stupid" or I'm dumb".
Parents, nip that kind of talk in the bud real quick. What people tell themselves is what they believe, even if they say things in jest.
Words create reality.
2. Daily Honorings
I have an alarm that goes off every one of my waking hours reminding me to love/honor myself. When my students hear my phone vibrating, they already know what it means, and they often join me by honoring/loving themselves!
When students take a moment, literally just 15 seconds, to slow down, take a deep breath, and then say something they are proud of that day. This is how they can train the self-love muscle.
They can honor themselves for even the smallest things. Anything from "I brushed my teeth today" to "I tried to pay attention in math class even though I hate it" to "I exist" are all valid reasons to both honor and love themselves.
3. Adopt a Growth Mindset
Fixed mindset: "I am bad at math."
Growth mindset: "I struggle with math, but with enough practice I can improve."
If you are fundamentally bad at something, then there is nothing you can do to improve. You are just stuck being bad no matter what. What a helpless and discouraging state to be in.
Adopting a growth mindset at least allows the possibility for change and improvement. Hell, you may still be bad at it by the end, but at least you are willing to give it a try. In that state of mind, you're not helpless. You take your power back.
In conclusion, self-love, good. Self-hate, also good (remember self-hatred is just trying to do it's job!), but just needs to be showered with love and shown the light.