“What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
With apologies to Miranda Hart for slightly stealing her idea, I’ve illustrated this post with a picture of Heather Small, former lead singer with M People. Her biggest solo hit was, of course, “Proud”, with its rousing chorus quoted above.
That’s a question we would all do well to ask ourselves, because the truth is, however insignificant we may feel, we all do lots of things every day that should make us feel proud. We just don’t notice them because, in many cases, we just do them automatically, without thinking.
As an example, because I’m quite a tall person I often find myself reaching for things on high supermarket shelves for shorter people. There’s nothing dramatic in that – I don’t think of myself as a great benefactor to the human race because of it. But I do get to help someone and to feel a bit of that warm glow you get as a result. I get to feel proud of the fact that I’m a decent person. And the shorter person I’ve helped gets to feel proud of the fact they managed to go home with what they wanted, instead of buying something they could reach.
If you suffer from low self-esteem it can be difficult to value your achievements. The late comedian Victoria Wood once made a joke about standing in front of a mirror and telling herself, “You have Latin “O” level,” as the only positive thing she could find about herself. Personally I think having Latin “O” level is quite a big deal but that might be because I’ve got it.
But we can all find small things in our day to day lives to make us proud. Helping someone in the supermarket, letting another driver out of a junction in busy traffic, chatting to a lonely neighbour – they’re not huge things but they remind us of our basic decency and humanity.
So if you struggle to value yourself, start to think about all these small (and not so small) things you can be proud of. If you like, you can write them down in a diary or notebook so you can look back at them if you start to feel a bit worthless. And see how, over time, your opinion of yourself improves.