Good feelings stir us to continued action. Immediate satisfaction is critical to sustain the work and practice required to attain the natural rewards of virtually every important skill, viz. getting an education, sustaining a relationship, keeping physically fit, playing a musical instrument, growing a garden, and – most importantly – growing our capacity for loving our self and others. Emotional endorsement is the main source of immediate satisfaction that allows us to enjoy the work we do now in order to attain more satisfaction later. Knowing we are doing something worthwhile is intellectual endorsement; its satisfaction is usually weaker than emotional joy. Joining emotional endorsement to intellectual endorsement provides the most effective incentive to continue our efforts.
How often have you known what you believed was the wisest and best thing to do, but instead did what felt better at that time? Get the idea? Understanding simply isn’t enough!
Few people know how to emotionally endorse themselves. We get little training in this skill. You know how to say to yourself, “I did a good job,” or, “That was nice,” but after you say those things you go right on to the next worry or problem to be solved. You don’t extract all the honey you can from your efforts. Yet you are probably more than well-developed in the opposite of emotional self-endorsement, self-blame. When you become intellectually aware of a shortcoming, you experience guilt, shame, or embarrassment within every fiber of your being. Most of us are so practiced at blaming-in that the negative feelings come automatically, seemingly without effort or intention. Could you imagine that you can teach yourself to create good feelings with the same ease that you “naturally” feel guilty, embarrassed, ashamed or depressed? You can! ... if you become aware of how to endorse yourself emotionally and practice doing so.
Since you know how to emotionally blame yourself, you already have the skills for emotional self-endorsement. The problem is that you direct your emotional endorsement to others. Think of the times you’ve expressed yourself in such a way as to stimulate a response from a dog -- you know how to get that dog to wag its tail, shake its behind, and get thoroughly excited. You’ve probably called forth great enthusiasm in doing the same kind of thing with a child. You’ve even emotionally endorsed food. “Wow! Look at that fantastic, gooey ice cream creation!” Recall the enthusiasm with which you’ve applauded a great musical performance or cheered for your team at a sports event. You just haven’t had much direction and experience in emotional self-endorsement, in “wowing” yourself. The skill is there; it simply needs to be directed to yourself. Most people are familiar with directing emotional blame to themselves, but unfortunately they were taught that it’s “selfish” to emotionally endorse themselves. One man recalled being told, “Praise only counts if it comes from someone else.” (This is one reason most of us become so dependent on what we imagine others might be thinking about us.)
When you do something worthwhile (i.e., your “reasonable best,” which is virtually always in your control!!!), imagine a gala brass band marching down Main Street. Two people are carrying a banner that stretches across the whole street with streamers being tossed about, and people are cheering you from their windows. There you are, smack in the middle of the parade, smiling proudly and waving, “Yep, I did it all right. It was me.” Such a self-endorsement tool in your repertoire is much more likely to call forth your emotions than an intellectual, flat, “That was O.K.” Use this image and/or create your own as a regular self-endorsement tool.
Some people can use or develop their existing creative imagery and fantasy to initiate enthusiasm. Others find it easier to call forth feelings of joy, inspiration, and enthusiasm from prior experiences. Make a mental scrapbook of times you’ve felt loved, got a pat on the shoulder, experienced joy, happiness, or enthusiasm. Permit yourself to call these “snapshots” forth to re-create similar good feelings. Combine past experience with the present creative imagery to develop the results you want.
Experiment by creating your own skills in emotional self-endorsement. Try it when you wake up in the morning. What do you say to yourself when you first look in the mirror? “What a hot sketch I am!”? Or do you say something else? If you are like most people who are practiced in the art of emotionally self-blaming, but are weak in emotionally endorsing yourself, apply your conscious awareness to nurture self-endorsement. Your efforts will be amply rewarded. Practice! Practice! Practice!
The next four wisdoms will recognize the three masters who govern our life’s experience, how we free ourselves from our early dictators, and the powerful tool that enables us to become a powerful creator and make our life’s experience joyous and meaningful. Then we’ll resume with a number of proven self-endorsement wisdoms.