Self love: It’s one of those concepts that we hear about all the time, but it’s truly difficult to grasp let alone achieve. That’s understandable. We are our own worst critics, our own worst enemy. How can you love yourself when most of us don’t even really like ourselves?
Think about: How many times do you beat yourself up on a daily basis for even the smallest infraction? Or criticize yourself, or talk down to yourself, or even say “I hate you” to yourself? (Raises hand)
I’m not going to lie, I’ve made A LOT of mistakes in my life. I’ve done some things of which I am truly ashamed, things I would never want my friends or family to know about; things I look back upon with a big ole dose of “what the hell was I thinking??”
Then there’s the shoulda’s, coulda’s, woulda’s. If I hadn’t been so damned stupid and foolish…blah, blah, blah.
We do this to ourselves everyday. We look at where we are in our lives, what we don’t like about it and ourselves, and berate the hell out of ourselves for not being perfect and mistake-free. We look at how our past actions and decisions created our present reality and mentally kick ourselves in the ass for doing whatever unfortunate thing we did to create this not-so-favorable current experience.
This was so me, so how did I learn to love myself and what did I learn about myself in the process?
First: I learned that it was Ok be imperfect. Wait! What? You see, I always felt like I had to put up a front of being perfect and living this wonderful life that everyone envied. If someone pointed out a typo on a social media post, I had a complete panic attack. A tiny public mistake, in my mind, meant a crack in the facade. God forbid I sent an email to a client with a typo in it. I would ruminate on it for hours if not days! I’m not perfect, and I was found out. They may as well fire me now. (Mindset issue: Imposter syndrome).
Crazy, right? Here’s the newsflash I received: No one is perfect or mistake free. Once I grasped this idea, I began to see the beauty in mistakes. How so? You get to learn and grow from them. You’re going to make them for the rest of your life, so you might as well embrace them, learn from them, and let them go.
As soon as I began to allow mistakes to happen and not want to throw myself off a bridge because of them, I began to see myself in a better light. I started to be Ok not only with the mistake, but with myself making them. Being Ok with yourself is the gateway to accepting yourself as you are and the first and most important step towards loving yourself.
Second: I got rid of that inner voice, you know the one that says: “You’re not good enough; you’re not worthy; you’ll never be as good as your sister…” Seriously? Screw you, inner voice!
That voice is what brings us down. The funny thing is, that voice is just thoughts and nothing else. But, we believe it because a belief is a thought that we keep repeating. We’ve practiced that negative thought so many times that it becomes as habitual as breathing, and we actually believe it.
Now, when I came to this realization, I thought: “You fool! You actually believed it?? It’s just a damn thought, you idiot!” But that thinking was only continued negative self talk, which was part of the practiced pattern. Once I became aware of that pattern, I began to practice a different pattern.
If you’re like me, when a negative thought or emotion comes up, especially one that’s all too familiar, you try to beat if off it with a stick. That only enhances the negative feelings and emotions. Rather than try to fight it, I give it some space. I acknowledge it and say: “That’s Ok. I know you’re here because I have practiced you for years and years, so it’s understandable that you’d pop back up again, but I’m going to choose a different way now.” Bless it and send it on its way. Bye Felicia.
Third: I learned to laugh at (almost) everything. Laughter is truly the best medicine. When I start to feel those painful feelings or memories come up that could cause me to go down a rabbit hole of negativity, I immediately watch a funny video. I also started laughing at myself, lovingly of course. Remember those typos I mentioned above? Now when someone points one out, I find some sort of humor in it, correct it, and move on.
Fourth: I became my own advocate. I started standing up for myself. This required exploring my needs and respecting them. Moreover, it included demanding that others respect them too, and I don’t mean throwing a whiny baby temper tantrum about them. It means I set boundaries. If something or someone doesn’t feel right to me, I listen to that inner voice and chose to honor and do what does feel right.
Fifth: I got rid of those pesky limiting beliefs. Like the imposter syndrome I mentioned above, we all have beliefs that we allow to hold us back. Remember: A belief is just a thought that you keep repeating. Maybe it’s something that someone else kept repeating to you so you started to believe it, but nevertheless, it doesn’t serve you.
recognizing your limiting beliefs takes a great deal of awareness and a deep dive into your life and how you respond to people and situations. These are usually the thorns in our proverbial sides that can trigger a certain response. Did someone say something where you felt super offended? Rather than lash out against the person or the offense, ask yourself why you are so offended? Is it because of some hidden belief or fear that you keep pushing against and struggling to hide or maintain? Recognizing this will eliminate that negative belief pattern about yourself and allow you to let it go.
Sixth: I became aware of the fact that I am completely unique. And, so are you. There is absolutely no one like you on this whole entire planet! Forgive yourself for not being perfect because you are exactly as you should be right now. Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a break. Think how you would feel if your best friend or a loved on came to you with the same issues. What would you tell them? How would you treat them?
Seventh: I began taking action on the things I’ve wanted to change about myself. Whether it be losing weight and getting in shape, saving money, or have better relationships, when you finally decide to take the steps necessary to change, you are immediately telling yourself: “I love you and know you deserve the best!”
Everything you want in life is possible with the right tools and mindset. Hire a personal trainer or watch workout videos on YouTube. Download a money saving app or take a course like Dave Ramsey’s. Hire a dating coach. Everything you want to achieve is totally achievable once you set your mind to it. Nothing is out of your grasp. Visualize the future you that you want to be and start living it now.
Fixating, rehashing, or dwelling on our past only makes it worst. It keeps it in the present and prevents you from living a better now and creating a happier future. Continuing to beat yourself over it and criticizing yourself only prevents you from loving all of the great things about yourself.
Start each day by writing down all of the things that you love and appreciate about yourself. Repeat those things throughout the day. This will help you rewire your brain and establish new and more positive thought patterns and beliefs. Loving yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself in this lifetime, and there’s no better time than the present to get started.