• Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

How to Work on Yourself

“Working on yourself” is a highly promoted concept in today’s society, especially on social media. “Loving yourself” is advertised as the end goal we all should want to achieve. In reality, this is a branch of toxic positivity that gives most people the illusion they should “love themselves.” People grow up in all sorts of environments that cause them to have a variety of feelings about their self-worth and image. Whether you value self-worth or find yourself in the realm of self-loathing, some people rarely consider the alternative.

The goal shouldn’t be as extreme as loving yourself because ultimately no one is fond of themselves all of the time. Reframing the approach to being “okay with yourself” or “respecting yourself” could produce better results. However, this mentality is not suddenly willed into existence; there is work to be done to produce this kind of result.

What are acts of kindness towards yourself?

Acts of kindness towards yourself look different for everyone but typically take the form of

  • Turning off or muting your phone

  • Wearing an outfit that is more comfortable to work

  • Listening to music you enjoy

  • Going to bed early or sleeping in to get more rest

  • Treating yourself to coffee or dessert simply because you want it

  • Taking a mental health day

  • Unsyncing your work emails from your phone on the weekends

  • Staying in and watching your favorite show rather than going out

  • Skipping leg day or the gym altogether

  • Cutting off contact with someone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself

These acts can have the same effect even if they are simple and the key to their effectiveness is to continue to do many of them daily.

Focusing on Health, Wealth, and Relationships

When unsure where to aim when focusing on self-care, narrow things down to three categories: health, wealth, and relationships. Health takes the form of exercise, improving your diet (i.e.cooking/finding ways to eat better), improving your sleep, starting therapy for your mental health, and tending to your overall appearance so that you start to feel better about yourself. Get a haircut, buy some new outfits, or plan some events to look forward to for your mental health.

Wealth does not only pertain to money, although starting to better manage your finances is a great place to start. Wealth also encompasses knowledge (reading or learning a skill or about a topic you’ve always wanted to), nurturing spirituality, evaluating if your environment is what you want it to be, and having a wealth of experiences. Do something you’ve been putting off, plan a trip, or start a book you haven’t made time to read even if you’re only consuming a page a day.

Last, but not least, is relationships, an area that can be the most healing. Start dating, connect with family, friends, coworkers, and people you’ve lost touch with, tend to pets, return to church, and start seeing a therapist. Meet new people, join a sport or a book club, and find a new community to connect with even if it is online. Nurturing these areas of your life can create a kindness to taking care of something you may have been neglecting or hadn’t considered needed more attention.

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