Health, Science & Technology

Collaboration with a Purpose: Self-Love & Acceptance, Self-Esteem & Writing Self-Compassionate Letters

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And here we are, the day we embrace self-love and acceptance! (Or in less dramatic words, it’s time for 15 different posts for our Collaboration with a Purpose theme, Self-Love and Acceptance. 😆) Previously I wrote the intro post for this theme, do check it out if you haven’t already. 😀

So, self-love and acceptance. We hear about them often, that they’re good for our happiness and mental health, and they’re often tied with self-esteem. But what do they really mean and how can we obtain them? These are the questions I had myself at first, before I started to grasp the concepts myself. 🙂

To start off, here are 5 quotes from well-known people on self-esteem and self-love:

  1. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
    – Buddha
  2. “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
    – M. Scott Peck
  3. “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
    – Mark Twain
  4. “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
    – Harvey Fierstein
  5. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
    – Lucille Ball
  6. (…)

~From The Positivity Blog: 53 Inspiring Self-Esteem and Self-Love Quotes


My Story: Pre-Blog

I started my blog in mid-February 2017 (wow, time flies!). Before that, I was one of those people who have low self-esteem, so much that I have an online pseudonym for my creative writing activities, and I hid them from most people for fear of being judged. To them, I was the ordinary office worker who likes playing video games. There was even once a superior at work thought I was only passionate about video games and told me, “There’s more to life than just video games.” I was like, “Yeah, I know.” 😅

In the couple of months before I started this blog, I was reading quite a bit about positivity and self-esteem, including how to improve them. That was when I stumbled upon writing compassionate letters to self (or self-compassionate letters), and I decided in a spur of the moment to include a short self-compassionate letter in every post I publish!

If you’ve read my previous posts, you might have noticed that little section at the end with the header “A Short Self-Compassionate Letter”. 🙂


My Definitions

Just so that we’re on the same page, at least for this post. 😆

This section contains my understanding of each concept – self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-love – and I hope they resonate with you. ❤

Self-Esteem

In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself, (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”), as well as emotional states, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Smith and Mackie (2007) defined it by saying “The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it.”
~From Wikipedia: Self-Esteem

The keywords are: “how we feel about [the self].”

We feel at the top of the world when others praise us, we question our worth when others criticise us. Many people’s mistake (including myself 😅) is to rely on an external source of validation to boost self-esteem, which is not a reliable source. Often this causes the self-esteem to fluctuate, like the worth of a currency that fluctuates with the state of the country’s economy, and it has consequences on mental health as mentioned in the following quote:

Crocker, who has worked on a series of self-esteem studies, found in her latest research that college students who based their self-worth on external sources–including appearance, approval from others and even their academic performance–reported more stress, anger, academic problems, relationship conflicts, and had higher levels of drug and alcohol use and symptoms of eating disorders.
~From American Psychological Association: Self-Esteem that’s Based on External Sources has Mental Health Consequences, Study Says

But that doesn’t mean external sources aren’t important; humans are social creatures, after all. When our loved ones praise us, our self-esteem skyrocket too! 🚀

It just means external sources shouldn’t be the only way to boost self-esteem. What is a more reliable source?

Self-Acceptance + Self-Love = +Self-Esteem

The answer, my friend, is within ourselves! After all, we’re all living our own lives; wouldn’t we be our own biggest motivator to make ourselves happy? 😀

Self-Acceptance

According to Shepard (1979), self-acceptance is an individual’s satisfaction or happiness with oneself, and is thought to be necessary for good mental health. Self-acceptance involves self-understanding, a realistic, albeit subjective, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
~From Wikipedia: Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is the acceptance of the self as-is, strengths and flaws included!

It means we’re happy as we are, even knowing that we’re overweight, cry easily or hate bitter gourd. (And yes, for the record, I hate bitter gourd. 😛) If we accept ourselves as-is, that negates the idea that we need to be “perfect”, the need to “fix” ourselves according to others’ real or perceived standards.

After all, this is the body we’re born with. Instead of lamenting why we were born with an “imperfect” body, why not accept and love what we have and instead focus on what we can achieve? ❤️

Self-Love

self-love
noun
regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
~From Google Dictionary: Self-Love

Here’s my own understanding of self-love:

Imagine you have a loved one, whether a partner, child, family, friend or others; when you love them, you’d want the best for them and to make them happy; you want to care for them, you want them to laugh and smile. 🙂

Now, imagine yourself as a loved one and apply the same concept; when you love them, you’d want the best for them and to make them happy. You want to care for them, you want them to laugh and smile. That’s self-love. ❤

Of course, do note that self-love doesn’t mean indulgence! You want your loved one to enjoy chocolate cake / pot pies / alcohol / etc but not becoming addicted to them, right? Too much of something is no good.  😅


Writing Compassionate Letters to Self

Loving and accepting ourselves aren’t very easy in this negative world! (I didn’t say it was, now did I? 😛) It certainly is doable though, and I’d say it’s well worth the effort!

There are many ways to love and accept ourselves (Uncle Google says so), but for the purpose of this post, I’ll be focusing on what I know, which is writing compassionate letters to self (or self-compassionate letters). But you already know that from the post title, don’t you? 😆

Self-Compassionate Letter?

It’s a letter (physical or digital) that you write to yourself to be kind and compassionate to yourself. It can be done in 3 simple steps that I paraphrased from Self Compassion.org’s article on Exploring Self-Compassion Through Writing:

  1. Think about an issue that currently bothers you.
  2. Imagine you have a kind and loving someone (friend, family, etc) who loves and accepts you unconditionally; what would that someone say about that issue? In the point of view of that someone, write the letter to yourself.
  3. Feel the compassion and kindness, let it soothe and comfort you.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? 😀

How Does It Work?

We often judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others, beating ourselves up over our faults, flaws, and shortcomings. (…) This exercise asks you to write a letter to yourself expressing compassion for an aspect of yourself that you don’t like. Research suggests that people who respond with compassion to their own flaws and setbacks—rather than beating themselves up—experience greater physical and mental health.
~From Greater Good in Action: Self-Compassionate Letter, Why You Should Try It

With a low self-esteem and lack of self-love and acceptance, we have a tendency to critical of ourselves; we tend to focus on negativity, on things that we should have done better rather than be happy with what we achieved. I know, because I’ve been there (and still occasionally do so). 😅

This exercise helps train our minds to be less critical of ourselves and to be more compassionate and kind to ourselves when things doesn’t work out the way we planned. It also helps reframe The effect may not be noticeable at first, but the more self-compassionate letters we write, the more we’ll say positive things to ourselves. ❤

Forgiving and nurturing yourself can set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being. Self-compassion yields a number of benefits, including lower levels of anxiety and depression. Self-compassionate people recognize when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, which reduces their anxiety and related depression.
~From Harvard Health Publications: The Power of Self-Compassion

How Often Should We Write?

I’d say as often as you like! Though if you prefer a guideline:

Time Required
15 minutes. Try to do this practice once per week, or at least once per month.
~From Greater Good in Action: Self-Compassionate Letter

For me, I only do it when I post something on this blog, so that’s twice a week for me. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how I schedule my posts in advance. 🙂

How Long Should the Letter Be?

I’d say as long as you feel like writing about it! When I first started, I used to write one paragraph per letter, and now I usually write one line. Yep, it’s short, but hey, at least it’s something! 😆


My Story: Self-Compassionate Letters

Remember how I decided to add self-compassionate letter at the end of each blog post? Let me tell you how I ended up with that. 😆

You see, I’m totally not the type who can consistently write in a diary. The first time I tried, I was so excited to get a stationary set (you know, the ones where the pencils, notebooks, etc have matching designs?) that I wanted to start a daily diary, but I ended up having nothing to write except the weather from the second day onwards. I run out of things to write to myself. 😅

But I wanted to be consistent with these self-compassionate letters, so what could I do?

Since I was planning to maintain a consistent schedule with my blog, I decided I would add a short letter at the end of each post! That way, by the time I get to the end, I would have already gotten into the writing mood (I usually take a while to warm that up) to write the letter. 😀

Since I usually ran out of stuff to write to myself, I’d take note of stuff I was uncomfortable with when I wrote the blog post (for example, I’d feel bad about it when I wrote about, well, how not to feel bad dealing with beggars) and addressed the uncomfortable stuff in the point of view of a kind, compassionate friend. (And yes, my letter was extra long for that particular post! 📝)

If I didn’t have anything to address in the letter after I was done with the post (for example, the random videos I shared like this recent one), I’d think of something nice to write to myself! It might be something somewhat relevant to the topic (like the video post I shared earlier), or it might be something simple like, “It’s nice of you to share this [adjective] post for [reason].” 😀

So… Did the Letters Work?

The effects of these letters might seem subtle on their own, but after more than 6 months, I’d say it definitely have an effect on me! So far I’ve noticed these effects:

  • Now I find I have an easier time thinking positive stuff or seeing the brighter side of things, like, “What? They don’t have [food] today?! I was looking forward to eating that! …well, [another food] is good too.” 🍰
  • During setbacks and failures (especially in this difficult video game I’ve been playing the last few days, imagine losing almost 20 times in a row for 2 hours before finally winning 😱), I feel less affected and sometimes a short break was enough for me to start the challenge again! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻
  • I feel less apprehensive when I publish a post, even excited to share whatever new thing I want to share! Though the credit goes more to the fantastic blogging family I have rather than the letters. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

These are the ones I remember at the top of my head, though I’m sure there are more. ☀


Hope you enjoyed this post! Do let me know what you think or share your own methods of improving self-love, self-acceptance and self-esteem. ❤

~Nicolle ❤

A Short Self-Compassionate Letter

Dear Self,

It’s wonderful of you to share your method of improving self-love and acceptance with others, though I think it’s even more wonderful that you’ve stuck to it and never missed a single self-compassionate letter in this blog’s history! ❤


Read More on Collaboration with a Purpose: Self-Love & Acceptance

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47 thoughts on “Collaboration with a Purpose: Self-Love & Acceptance, Self-Esteem & Writing Self-Compassionate Letters

  1. Hey Nicolle, spectacular post on self-love. We should have the old use car dsign “as-is” embed in our mind. This doesn’t mean we can’t better ourselves or make changes to our flawed persons. However,
    we can be accepting of who we are-inside and out. Btw: good job on the collab photo. We are all God’s children and we are all precious in his sight. #keepwriting

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great suggestion to write compassionate letters to self. I love writing diaries/journals, too. When I don’t blog, I write privately. Glad to know you’ve found the courage to blog/run a website to share your masterpieces. That’s also loving yourself. You love yourself enough to show the world what you are capable of. Thanks for sharing this! I’d love to try the letter writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicolle,
    I love your self-compassionate letters! They are fantastic. How can we truly love others or feel love if we don’t know how to love ourselves? The letters help that. They are brilliant. I’m so happy you started blogging. I would’ve never met you otherwise! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much, Ipuna, and I’m glad my letters were fantastic and brilliant! Even simple one-liners help in the long run. 😀

      I’m really glad and happy I started blogging too! I still remember you were the one who opened the gate to this wonderful community for me. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed the analysis of this theme by definition. Makes it so much more easy (or in less clustering words – EASIER😆) to understand and presents the theme in a much different light.
    Love the quotes at the start – it was a beacon to tell me that ALERT!! MOTIVATION AHEAD 😁😁
    Also it’s true. We shouldn’t about what people say. We should play video games whenever we want and not feel bad about it..😜 We should set absurd and insanely crazy gaming goals all the time too! Yeah! I’m inspired!

    P.S. I’m gonna start writing myself those letters. They sound amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, thanks very much, Jainey! Glad you enjoyed it and loved the quotes. ❤
      I wish I could have added all the quotes in, but then it would have made the post way too long. 😛

      Yeah, crazy gaming goals for the win! I got 2 out 5 achievements for the game I’m playing now (finish the game within 5 / 10 hours), and now I’m doing the “finish the game with 100% completion within 20 hours” and “finish the game in one-life mode” AND “finish the game with 100% completion in one life mode”! Sounds crazy, right? But I think it’s doable! 💪🏻

      It’ll be great if you do start writing self-compassionate letters to yourself! They certainly are amazing, even if they’re simple one-liners like what I often write. ❤

      Also, I wanted to type this comment at your post but WordPress was being silly and doesn’t give me the option: your post was awesome and I agree with it! Originally I’d planned to add a “why self-love and acceptance is important” section in my post, but it was waaaay too long and detracts from my original topic of writing self-compassionate letters. So it’s great you wrote that and it even complements all our posts. My favourite part was: we are loved. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Once it’s crazy, it’s definitely doable for both of us because we’re the crazy duo 🤣

        Can you imagine squirrel me forgot to start today 😛 ?

        P.S. You can always pour the on me daily. Every bit of motivation counts.

        P.P.S Sorry about WordPress. It gets naughtier with each passing day. Thanks for your lovely comment. That was my favorite part too!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed the break down by definition. When analyzed by its definition, you have a better understanding of the meaning. I know I read the definitions and found self-acceptance and self-respect to have a new angle, a new lens for me to view it. So, thank you for taking the time to break them down this way. I also liked writing a letter to yourself, it’s a good idea. Compassion towards yourself is always the best approach.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Same here, I tend to love dissecting themes and you did a great job at that. Self respect and acceptance can be colored by our personal tainted perspective until we see it’s true meaning, we find we’ve defined it incorrectly all along. Clear cut truth always triumphs above personal optional if what we think something means.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks and glad to know I did a great job at that! I also agree with the tainted perspective until we get the true meaning; I think it’s part of our learning process. 😀

        Like

  6. Extremely interesting logic and theories here. I must admit I’m intrigued, but I find myself questioning the philosophy of all of this too. You see, as a young Catholic man, there’s a very interesting/unique balance between how you view yourself and how you view others; namely, you should view yourself with humility in relation to your fellow humans, and you should know how loved you are by God, as well as how loved everyone ELSE is by God.

    HOWEVER, you should always be aware that you are a sinner, and because of this, feelings or thoughts like “I am worthy” aren’t always necessarily true. I’m not trying to convert or bash anybody, I’m just explaining a concept.

    For example, sometimes I feel like I’m unworthy of my girlfriend because she’s just SO amazing (Awww, right???). But seriously. My girlfriend tells me that I AM worthy, because other guys treat girls like trash. And, okay, fine, maybe I’m “more” worthy in relation to OTHER guys…but what about in relation to God? How could I ever deserve the gift of my girlfriend?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s a balance between self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem, etc. It’s up to each person to discover that balance and know who they truly are in relation to other people and God. Sorry for the long comment, great post though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Whoo, thanks for the super long comment, Dominic! It could almost be its own post. 😛
      Also, thanks for explaining the concept in the point of view of a Catholic man! I like seeing things other points of view. 😀

      I think balance is certainly important when it comes to everything, not just about our self-worth (one of my motto is everything in moderation 😛). I get the idea that we’re all sinners; in Buddhism, we all have bad karma that we raked up, but we also have good karma accumulated. 🙂

      Now, here’s the part I disagree with: I believe having a high self-esteem / self-worth doesn’t mean we’re “worthy” or “deserving” of someone or something; having a high-self-esteem means we feel good about ourselves, but doesn’t mean we’re above others. I also believe there’s a difference between humility and self-deprecation; to say that one is unworthy of another is like putting oneself below another, taking a hit at one’s self-esteem, whether unintentional or not. I think we’re all equal – just with different circumstances, values and everything; we’re all humans on this boat called Life. But these are my thoughts; I’m not trying to change your views, and you’re free to disagree with mine. 🙂

      By the way, it sounds like you have an amazing girlfriend! Hope you’ll have a great romantic life. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand where you’re coming from. I wish I knew more about humility to be honest, or at least that I knew how to explain it better. It’s this unique healthy mix of wanting better for others, understanding that you’re equal, but viewing life as if you were less, and being happy about it…idk, it’s very love-based and “I desire more happiness for you than myself”.

        And aw thank you! She IS amazing! Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

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