Today’s stren considers the fifth of the eight choices available to our will power to transform information into action. I have labeled it the self-endorsement response because it is the means by which we generate the emotional energy we require to assume responsibility for our destiny.
Endorsement means to approve and/or support. This “becoming your own best friend” mental skill, though vital, is one of the most neglected. Helpless at birth, we depend on others for many years. Most of us learn to provide for our own physical needs and would be offended if some “other” tried to attend to our feeding, dressing, bowel care, and so on. Yet, I observe that those adults who regularly provide their own minimum daily requirement (MDR) of self-endorsement are in the minority. Do you know individuals who are overly sensitive to what others think? Those I call “love junkies,” individuals who remain dependent on others’ approval for much of their self-worth? Approval is the major source of the mental energy that powers our mind. It is the basis of what we call “will power.”
Unlike blaming, which we express quite instinctively and effortlessly, we only learn self-endorsement through willful mental action. With the intensification of approval, we generate increasingly higher levels of energy as follows:
approval → endorsement → enthusiasm → love
Love is an intense, affectionate concern and enthusiasm for a person, object, or belief. Self-endorsement is so critical because the ability to love another grows from our skill in loving our self. How do you understand “Love your neighbor as yourself”? Love is not to be confused with sex. Our sexual organs contain receptors that receive and relay messages, usually pleasurable, to older, more primitive areas of the brain. I find it interesting that the brain’s pleasure area is closely related to the area that deals with aggression. Love, on the other hand, is a willfully created and expressed activity of the latest to evolve portion of our brain, the cerebral cortex. Love and sex often go well together but they can also be quite unrelated.
Here is an easy way to evaluate if you are providing your minimum daily requirement (MDR) of endorsement. Imagine you could tape your thinking, the conversations you carry on with yourself in your head. Replay segments of it. Does what you hear sound like a conversation between best friends? No putdowns or blaming? How much endorsement, support, warmth, friendliness, problem-solving, and good feelings are expressed? How often do you hear, “I like what I did,” “Good job,” “I’m such a hot sketch,” and sustained enthusiasm for your life’s experience?
Secondary endorsement is an important, special expression of self-endorsement. Since endorsement is one of our most important mental acts, we are wise when we reinforce the skill of self-endorsement by endorsing our self for endorsing our self. “Attaboy! (Attagirl!)” Congratulations to me for remembering to endorse myself.”
How can we endorse our self when we make a mistake, when we’ve used poor judgment, when “we’ve done wrong”? Simple! Keep in mind that the most useful way to manage a mistake is to learn from it. We already experience harm as a consequence of our error and/or misfortune. Why add to our hurt unnecessarily by blaming our self with various forms of putdowns? By acknowledging our shortcoming and applying the problem-solving sentence, we apply our energy to best deal with similar situations now and in the future. Blaming gets us nowhere, and punishment predictably makes things worse; it applies heat but no light! Stamp out blaming! Consistently endorse your self for recognizing and dealing with your shortcomings. I have found it helpful to recall how we learn to walk. We fall many times as we teach our self the skill of walking. As a child, we simply ask, “Did I lean too far to this or that side? What can I do to correct it?” We often show more wisdom as a child than as an adult when we have been taught to become “blamer-inners.” When Edison was asked how he could continue to make a reliable light bulb when he “failed” in over 5000 experiments, he replied, “Every one of these experiments taught me something. ... I failed my way to success.”
The most important wisdom in this stren is to recognize the importance of habitually engaging in self-endorsement. Consider some of the benefits:
- You engage in conversation with yourself most of your waking life, far more than anyone else. Why not make yourself your lifelong friend and traveling companion?
- One of life’s greatest satisfactions is giving something of value to others. It’s hard to give away what you don’t have. When you fill yourself with love and positive feelings, you will have an abundance of value to give away.
- Self-endorsement is the secret of patience and prevention. The emotional reward we provide now is the source of energy that enables us to pursue skills that have great payoffs in the future.
- Most people go through life as “love junkies,” dependent on others for their self-worth. As children we require others’ support, but as adults we are responsible for supporting ourselves. It is certainly worthwhile earning others’ approval and love, but as a bonus, no longer as a requirement to make life worthwhile.
- Among our most harmful characteristics is a tendency to blame others or guilt ourselves. When we teach ourselves to provide our own requirement of endorsement, we no longer get so distressed when others don’t respond as we’d like. Blaming will become a thing of the past as we replace it with the problem-solving mental action pathway.
- One of the highest achievements we can attain as a human being is skill in forgiveness. Forgiveness is a difficult to learn form of expressing love. Self-endorsement is a key source of strength to allow us to forgive.
Self-endorsement promotes love, forgiveness, patience, and freedom from dependency on others. It enables us to assume personal responsibility for our life’s experience. Self-endorsement is the antidote for blaming, guilt, and dependency. A substantial number of the strens offered in this series are various methods to teach ourselves the skill of self-endorsement. Each method will add to your Mental Wealth. Don’t walk; run to the self-endorsement strens. I urge you to acquire a wide variety of self-endorsement methods. Practice them until they become habitual and effortless. There are few better addictions.