The very first step (and most important step) for achieving wellness is learning to love ourselves. If we have to be honest, I think we all struggle with loving ourselves from time to time.
Here are a few signs that you or someone you know is struggling with loving themselves:
- Engages in unhealthy relationships
- Cannot accept a compliment
- Self-critiques constantly
- Secretly judges others often
- Tends to engage in self-destructive behaviors
- Does not take care of themselves
- Seeks external validation
Am I struggling?
The first thing I had to do was to be transparent with myself and answer the following questions truthfully:
1) Do you find it easy to take care of others, but difficult to take care of yourself?
2) Are you overly critical of yourself? Do you find yourself having a hard time forgiving yourself, even when the mistakes are small?
3) Do you have a difficult time accepting yourself?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be struggling with loving yourself. I do not pretend to have all of the answers, I am also walking down this road to discover the true meaning of self-love. I hope that we can do this together.
How it started
Unlovable. That’s how I felt for a long, long time.
I just felt like I wasn’t enough. Like it didn’t matter what I did I would never be able to find true love. I did not like what I saw in the mirror, but that was just the surface. I just felt like I could not trust when people said they loved me.
I always thought – well for how long? Until I do something that you don’t like? Until I stop being perfect? Until you find someone better?
Most of this stemmed from my upbringing and possibly by me continuing that cycle and allowing those type of people in my life. Because the truth is, I did not know what love was supposed to look like and feel like so I would revert back to what was comfortable. In future posts, I will break down some of the behavioral patterns that Children of Alcoholic Parents gravitate towards and share some resources that have been helpful in my journey.
My therapist helped me get to the root of some of these feelings. Then she proceeded to tell me, “you have to love yourself.”
Well, how? How do you love yourself?
What is love? More than a feeling.
The first thing I had to do what accept who I am. I am a nerdy, simple, somewhat rhythmically challenged 29 year old woman.
I am also hardworking, loyal, kind, compassionate, empathetic, stubborn, and very headstrong.
This is me. Me in all it’s glory. You either take it or leave it.
I accept that my breast will not magically grow at this point. I accept that there are stretchmarks on my thighs and butt and that I have inherited the infamous tortilla belly. I accept that sometimes I need people to tell me to slow down because I go at a thousand mph. I accept that not everyone likes that I am so chatty (at times). I accept me.
Love is an action.
Love isn’t the butterflies you feel when you first meet someone you like. Most likely that’s just indigestion, or infatuation at most.
Love is that warm glow you feel when you get to know someone and you realize that they have a special meaning to you.
We need to realize that we are valuable. We are special to ourselves. This life we live, it’s a gift, and our days on earth are limited.
You won’t feel like you love yourself everyday. That’s a given. But, you can make a decision to show love towards yourself everyday.
Here’s three simple ways you can do this:
1) Be kind towards yourself. Do not put yourself down. When those pesky thoughts come to mind, counteract them with some positive affirmations.
2) Forgive yourself. As many times as you have to. You are not perfect. No one expects you to be. You will make mistakes, that’s a sure thing. Why? Because we all make mistakes. We simply do the best we can and when we make the wrong choice, then we have to forgive ourselves.
3) Love what you can from where you are (I think Dr. Hendricks Gay said something like this). Listen, some days you are going to be in your worst behavior. I mean it happens. I’ve had a few of those days. It’s not pretty, I am not proud of it, and I surely don’t want to repeat it, but the truth is there will be those days. On those days, when being faced with the things you really don’t like about yourself, you will have to make an extra effort to love yourself. OK, you lost your temper and said some really mean and hurtful things, but one bad moment does not define you as a whole. You are also the same person who (insert here some of your good qualities).
It’s going to take time my friend. You will have to be patient with yourself. This will take time, but we are in this together. Blessings!