For years people have repeatedly told me “Sergei, you should love yourself–this is imperative for happiness.” I’ve also read articles and self-help books about the positive benefits of developing healthy self-esteem. I find the subject of contentment intriguing and am perpetually striving to understand how to love myself better and boost my self-esteem more effectively. Unfortunately, neither the literature that I’ve consumed nor the advice that I’ve been given has provided any clear instructions for how self-worth get’s built. As a result, I’ve struggled to make progress in this sector. After years of getting nowhere, I accidentally cracked the self-value code while filming a movie and intend to share my conclusions here. Let’s go!
In 2015, I filmed a fitness documentary called “I Want Abs.” Over the course of the 15-month production, I did an incredible amount of self-observation and reflection. I filmed hundreds of hours of my life and then meticulously combed through the footage while editing the movie. This enabled me not only to live life in real time, but also gave me the ability to re-watch my voyage from the sidelines as though I were an outsider. Through these vantage points, I figured out what it takes to cultivate healthy self-esteem and self-love. As it turns out, it’s surprisingly easy.
In my assessment, personal value increases when a person examines his or her life honestly, decides to make some type of change or adjustment, and then executes the new changes. When this is done consistently, self-esteem grows. This is the formula. It’s literally that easy! Because I discovered this recipe through a fitness routine, I’ll illustrate my point further with exercise-based examples. But please keep in mind that if strength conditioning is not your thing, you can apply these same principles to other areas (diet, school, work, sleep, and beyond) and accomplish a healthy sense of self.
Regular exercise has taught me that every time I choose a healthy habit over an unhealthy one, it’s essentially like saying “Sergei, I love you.” Consistent workouts and healthy eating demonstrate to body, mind, and spirit that I am important and worthy of love and care. Each time I make wholesome choices my self-worth grows a tiny little bit. For example, when I opt out of eating a sugary dessert and instead reach for a piece of fruit, I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride and my value increases a microscopic amount. Likewise, when I pull my butt out of the computer chair and get to the gym to train, it’s basically the same as giving myself a gigantic hug. Such actions help me verify that I am important and worthy of attentiveness and upkeep and bump up my self-esteem. After that it’s simple math. The more healthy choices I make, the faster my self-love grows.
Over time, seemingly insignificant choices build and amount to a healthy, strong, and vibrant sense of self. This is a fantastically pleasant and content state of being. I’ve come to realize that when people talk about self-esteem they are merely referring to your relationship with yourself. Just like a couple’s relationship can grow or deteriorate depending on how each partner acts, so too can your relationship with yourself. If you lie and cheat on yourself regularly it destroys your self-esteem. However, if you evaluate yourself honestly, change your behavior as needed, and demonstrate attentiveness and care, you begin to trust and respect yourself and your self-esteem grows as a result.
It’s important to note that while you can deceive others and get away with it, it’s nearly impossible to lie to yourself. Thus, whichever way you choose to work on bettering yourself, make sure it’s authentic and effortful. For example, if you resolve to hit the gym three times per week for a vigorous 50-minute workout, you will not succeed at uplifting your personal value if you spend 25 of those minutes lazily pedaling a stationary bike while checking Instagram. Your psyche knows when you’re cheating and doesn’t count sluggish workouts. In fact, it actually uses them as a strike against you. So if you resolve to exercise, shoot for being an overachiever. Stay at the gym for a few extra minutes and make sure to break a hearty sweat!
Healthy Self-esteem Recipe:
Step 1. Examine yourself honestly
Step 2. Decide to make a beneficial change
Step 3. Get to work making said change(s)
Step 4. Stay consistent and don’t cheat
That’s basically it. Not too complicated and very doable.
If you need additional fitness motivation, I invite you to watch my documentary on YouTube. I Want Abs: A Documentary for People Who Want to Get in Shape, But Don’t Know How to do it is now available for free online.