“Love Yourself” is a chapter release from my upcoming book.
Love yourself, it seems like a simple concept, yet a lot of us struggle with it.
Before we get into learning how to love ourselves, let’s talk a little about friendship. What qualities do you look for in a true friend? Take some time to think about this. Write down those qualities because we are going to need them later.
I am going to use myself as an example. I would like to share with you the qualities I look for in a friend. On my short list, I like people who are caring, supportive, non-judgmental, respectful, and dependable. Now, for me to expect these qualities from another, I also need to offer the same in return.
Did you think about what is important to you? Do you offer the same in return to your friends? More importantly, do you apply those same qualities to yourself? If not, why?
I know you are probably asking, what does this have to do with loving yourself? The answer is simple…. You will never learn to love yourself if you continue your habits of self-hatred. We will bend over backward for others but treat ourselves as if we are our own worst enemy.
I touched on this a little in my book, “A Simple Guide to Positive Thinking.” In Chapter 13, “Beware of the Underminers” I share how we are our own worst enemies. One day it just clicked for me, I realized that I worked harder at being a good friend to everyone else than to myself. I am sure I am not alone here. Why should I be looking for a best friend when I should be my own best friend? Before I can give love to another, I had to learn to love myself first. I needed to stop limiting myself by listening to those inner negative underminers. I had to retrain my brain to stop obsessing over my flaws and thinking negatively of myself when I did not succeed at something. I had to learn to become my biggest fan.
I needed to learn to stop depending on and basing my life on what others thought of me. I had to figure this out the hard way. I was so consumed by what everyone thought that it caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and disappointment. I was trying to live my life based on someone else’s terms, and this made me extremely unhappy. This was incredibly unfair to me and everyone I came in contact with. I cannot stress this enough – stop living your life based on what other people think. If it does not make you happy, do not do it. Do what makes your brain sparkle. If it is not hurting anyone else, who cares what others think.
Listen, everyone will always have an opinion on what someone should and should not do. By sharing this unsolicited opinion, we believe that this is helpful. However, in reality, we are trying to control how others should handle a situation or live their lives. This needs to stop. It can actually cause more damage than good to a person’s psyche. When you do this, there is always the possibility of that person leaving with the underlying feeling of, “what is wrong with me?”
To be fair, this does not apply to every situation. There is a difference between a solicited and unsolicited opinion. So don’t pull out the claws yet. I will expand on this thought process in a later chapter.
I knew that I had to start looking at things differently if I wanted to have a better relationship with myself. Therefore, my thought process had to change. Instead of pointing the finger at everyone else, I had to make sure I took personal responsibility for my actions. I started by reminding myself the following on a daily basis:
If a friend did not succeed at something, I would not verbally beat them up about it. I am not going to judge them for the decisions they make. I would never say anything negative about them for failing at something they tried. I would always have encouraging words for them. I understand that not everyone has the same mindset when it comes to life or success. Everyone’s path is going to be different. For this reason, I will always encourage others to follow their dreams. I may not agree with their journey, but it is theirs to take.
This is something that I had to learn to do for myself and demand in return. As I mentioned earlier, if I expected something from someone I needed to make sure I offered the same in return. I realized that it was okay for me to live my life on my terms and not on what society dictates. I needed to stop putting myself down for my past decisions, mistakes, and failures. Also, I had to learn that it was okay to remove the people in my life who did not respect it. The self-hate had to end.
Another important underminer I had to avoid was focusing on my mental and physical flaws. Doing this caused years of unnecessary self-hate that tore down my self-esteem. Since I was a child, I focused on one flaw in particular. I was always self-conscious about it. One day I realized that I was obsessed about this flaw my entire life and no one ever mentioned it. Therefore, why did I continually put myself down for something no one has ever mentioned? I would never say anything malicious about a friend. Not to mention, I would never intentionally make them feel less than. So I had to stop and think, why don’t I give myself this same respect? That was the best question I could have ever asked myself. It prompted me to understand that my flaws did not make me a bad person. It just made me a little different. I began to embrace this because I never wanted to be like everyone else. This was another step in eliminating those pesky habits of self-hate. Now, I find that I can talk about and even joke about something that I avoided my entire life.
I get it – it is easy to focus on our flaws, especially when others are quick to point them out as if we didn’t already know about them. That is why it is important for us to take back our control. I had to learn to give myself the same love, support, and encouragement that I would give another. Those inner-underminers caused me the most damage. They created so much unnecessary fear, stress, and anxiety. If I did not learn to control these negative thoughts, they would continually block me from living a happy and healthy life.
Listen, no one is perfect. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes, and we all have insecurities. Some are just better than others at hiding it. Once I realized this and started making a conscious effort to change my way of thinking, my level of stress and anxiety began to decrease. My self-esteem improved and I gained a better outlook on life. In my experience, self-love made a big difference in my life.
Keep in mind that what I have shared in this chapter are specific to my needs. However, they can be used in pretty much any situation that you may encounter in life. The key is to step outside of yourself and look at the situation as if you were watching someone you love experiencing the same problem. What would you tell that person? Give yourself the same respect. Would you allow someone you love to continue in an abusive relationship? Of course not. So why not have the same respect for yourself? Do not allow yourself to be abused, manipulated or taken advantage of.
More importantly, people can only get away with this type of behavior if you allow them. Don’t be a victim and complain about what everyone else is doing to you. Take responsibility for your habits of allowing it. Take back your control.
These habits of self-hatred are is our greatest obstacle when it comes to cultivating a self-love mindset. It can damage or even destroy every aspect of our lives. However, it is not our only obstacle. There are many small improvements that we can make in different areas of our lives that can help us achieve the level of love needed to live that happy life. I will cover these in the upcoming chapters.