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When my self-development journey began in earnest in 2005, I felt a massive amount of guilt. Guilt for putting myself first and, surprisingly, quite a bit of shame.

One of the earlier steps along this self-development journey materialised as a move to another country. I sold my flat, filled my car with my most loved and needed possessions, and placed the rest in storage.

I left Sweden for the UK on Midsummer’s Day morning after celebrating Midsummer’s Eve with friends. What I was about to embark upon was exhilarating and scary in equal measure. I drove off the ferry and onto UK soil in Dover on July 1, 2005.

Ten years earlier, I had moved from Sweden to Germany, so I knew from that experience that I would be fine in the UK. The biggest learning from the previous move was realising that we don’t have to be stuck with what has been.

A few months after I moved to Germany, it dawned on me that I could recreate myself if I wanted to. I knew no one, and I was no longer bound by or limited by who I had been in Sweden. It was a golden opportunity to let go of all my preconceived ideas about who I was and discover who I could become. At the time, a bewildering idea.

I’m not sure that I can pinpoint the underlying driver for my move to the UK. When asked, I often summarise it as a combination of following my gut and wanting more space to be me. And in hindsight, this is when the notion of self-appreciation entered the scene for the first time. I had done something for me, not because of somebody else’s expectations.

Over the past 15 years, I have gradually discovered that there is a lot more to me than meets the eye. Having spent plenty of time listening to others who just saw what meets the eye, this process has been a revelation.

I’m a firm believer that to fully embody or live something, I need to know what that means to me. Without this, I won’t be able to be fully present and, therefore, I’ll be disconnected from what brings me joy and meaning.

So, what does self-appreciation look like for me, what does it mean to me?

I think of self-appreciation as a necessary ingredient for a wholesome, meaningful, and fulfilling life. This is why it isn’t selfish to practice self-appreciation.

Self-appreciation includes recognition of who I am and my gifts, and also who I am becoming.

To me, self-appreciation means following decisions that fulfill something deeper. It means listening to the whisper of the soul.

We all have things we can appreciate about ourselves, whether small or big.

The message on the Self-Appreciation card in the SOULFULLY YOU® card deck has this to say:

“Self-appreciation nurtures our creative spirit. When you practice self-appreciation, you are less inclined to hide parts of yourself and more inclined to share your gifts with the world.” 

This has been my experience.

Conscious self-appreciation is an important ingredient for a wholesome, meaningful, and fulfilling existence.

An active practice of self-appreciation guides you to grow and expand as a human being.

And the nifty thing is that YOU get to define what self-appreciation looks like for you.

I’ll conclude with a few prompts that assist in making self-appreciation a more conscious part of your everyday life.

(1) Is a lack of self-appreciation and feeling ‘not enough’ holding you back?

(2) Are there specific areas of your life where you would like to appreciate yourself more?

(3) Reflect on and write down what self-appreciation looks and feels like for you. How is it expressed? How do you know when self-appreciation is present?

(4) To what extent are you living in alignment with your description of self-appreciation? (Prompt 3)

(5) What daily practices or habits could help you appreciate yourself more? Write them down together with your description of self-appreciation.

Put your note with the description and daily habits on the fridge as a reminder. :)

Soulfully yours,

Maria