- in Self-Care
“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different."
~ Stacey Charter
“We will never be able to really love ourselves until we go beyond the need to make life wrong.” writes Louis Hay, one of the most prolific writers today on the topic of self-love.
What does she mean by this?
Most of us have an inner critic, often the voice of a parent, that is all too happy to tell us, over and over, just how badly we are failing at life. This voice is ready to chide us for all our little faults and mistakes.
Perhaps the critic whose lectures we listen to has the best intentions for us- she or he may motivate us to do better or to change habits that aren’t good for us.
- Where does the critical voice come from?
- Why do we listen?
- Why do we fight within ourselves for the right to love ourselves?
- Why do we focus so much on what is wrong with us, comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves lacking?
It is a basis of therapy that self-love is the necessary attribute one must have to be able to love others.
“All love starts with self-love.” Many people find themselves in unloving relationships; or if they are in a loving relationship, they may sabotage it; they may be aware they are doing it but unable to stop.
They come in to our offices and say, ”I know I am doing this to myself, but I don’t understand why. Or how to stop.”
What is self-love?
I think for many of us, self-love sounds like selfishness or self-centeredness; we may think the idea of self-love sounds too grand for us. We don’t want to get too big for our britches. Self-love can be called other things- self-respect, self-esteem, self-care,self-acceptance.
Perhaps these seem less self-important. But the self is important; it is from this sense of who we are and a sense of our beingness in the world that we are able to, grow and thrive in in our environment. It is essential to believe- to know – that I belong here, that I have a right to be here, that my existence matters and has meaning.
If I have grown up the victim of trauma or abuse, if I have been told or shown that I am unlovable, how do I grow a sense of self that does not efface, that asserts and claims the good stuff of life for itself? How do I develop the ability to love without guilt and shame, the sense that I deserve to love and be loved?
This is challenging.
We are all bombarded with messages of the many ways we don’t measure up, and it can be from parents, churches, TV, school, friendships. We learn to compare ourselves to others, and often find ourselves wanting.
Yet there is always a core, a spark inside each of us- that is the inner self saying, “I should talk to someone about this. I shouldn’t always be so down on myself. “Maybe I don’t want to teach my children to be the same way I am. Maybe I am just sick of beating myself up. Something tells me I can be happy, I can be loved; I can express myself in the world safely.
This is the spark of our essence speaking, asking to be cared for and nurtured.
This is the flame of self that exists in each person, no matter how it may have been dimmed by life experiences. And this is the spark that we address and nurture through therapy, through meditation, through seeking the quiet space within us and loving it, and giving it room to grow and expand.
It is by letting go of some of my distractions and learning to really know myself that I am able to get to know this core, this spark. And by knowing it, I can begin to love it, and to love myself.
Faye I Maguire, MA, CAT, CAC – www.maguirecounseling.com
I know you. You are so warm, loving and supportive of your friends and family but when it comes to yourself, not so much.
- What if you stopped looking for someone out there to love you and start learning how to love yourself?
- Wouldn't it be freeing to not need outside validation or approval to know that you are worthy?
- What if that relentless chattering critic inside your head softened and became your best supporter cheering you on?
- What if you were your own best friend?
It may never have occurred to you that you can change this pattern and begin to treat yourself with love and compassion. Here are a few exercises you can do to begin to create the new neural pathways necessary to create behavioral changes.
Know that, at first, these exercises may feel very inauthentic. Ironically, you only believe the negativity you send your way.
This you hold as truth and authenticity.
Because you have said it over and over again building roads in your brain that support this way of thinking. But here is a surprise: all of your thinking is fabricated, so you might as well create new, positive self-directed thoughts. Once the new pathways are established, not only will these thoughts feel believable, they will feel good.
Here are some steps to take:
1. Begin a meditation practice by sitting just 20 minutes a day.
Meditation is scientifically proven to create change in the brain & behaviors.
Sit in a chair, lie down or use a cushion.
The important thing is to be comfortable.
Stay as still as possible.
Focus on your belly rising and falling. You will notice that, almost immediately, you will lose this focus of attention and start following your thinking. Celebrate that you became mindful that the mind left the breath. Very gently take your hand and bring yourself back to the breath - again and again, as necessary. When you stay with the breath, even for just one inhalation, celebrate.
You are creating a win-win relationship with yourself. This is called practice as you want to start doing these steps for the other 23 hours and 40 minutes you are off the meditation cushion. At the end of the 20 minutes, celebrate without any judgment and reward yourself with a cup of tea or a walk outside.
2. Send yourself loving kindness by repeating this mantra throughout the day:
"May I be happy, May I be well, May I be safe, have peace and be at ease." x 3
3. Set your cell phone or watch to ring on the hour and tell yourself, "I love you."
My clients often ask me once they establish this practice if they can say it more often because it feels so good. (Of course you can!)
4. Practice mindfulness
When you become aware that you are speaking negatively to yourself, STOP. Take a few long deep breaths and tell yourself, "not now, not now" and focus on your breathing. Celebrate.
As you may have noticed there is a theme to this work. It is non-judgmental and celebratory. Be patient but know with regular practice it only takes 6 weeks to create new neural pathways which will result in a dramatic reduction of destructive emotions and a friendlier, kinder relationship to yourself.
Margie Ahern, M.Ed. – www.gomindful.net
We are not suppose to do that. Well, at least somewhere along the way many of us have obtained that message. I believe what seems to be created is a translation of this message that to love oneself means a conceited, selfish, and entitled person is born. I say, not necessarily.
I see it as, the way to honestly love oneself is through loving others with genuine acceptance.
If we are able to see the bad or negative aspects of others, without judgement or comparison, and still can embrace them with acceptance and respect then we are one huge step towards loving ourselves.
Thus, the critical piece of loving ourselves, I believe, is through utilizing the same accepting approach to embrace ourselves.
We, just like everyone else, are not perfect but through accepting our imperfections using grace, forgiveness, and motivation to keep working on ourselves to improve; we can achieve internal peace. Internal distention creates internal defensiveness. We begin to become critical of others and judgmental by noticing flaws in others in an attempt to improve our love for ourselves.
This backfires in so many ways. This practice is like we are shooting at ourselves with an AK-47. When we practice acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness to others and mindfully utilize those same practices on our internal self talk as a person too, we can gain much freedom and can begin to honestly love ourselves.
“A persons is a person no matter how small. A persons a person after all.” ~Dr. Seuss (my favorite psychotherapist)
Melissa Tower, MA, LLP, CPC – www.melissa-tower.com
Clients I see often say but isn’t it selfish to love yourself?
It’s a common story. Many of us are brought up and conditioned to be givers. Particularly in a religious context but not only in religious homes, children learn not to ask for what they want and the default way of acting becomes caring for others before ourselves.
There’s a big problem with this.
We end up becoming resentful and this comes out in passive-aggressive ways. We may tend to become manipulative in order to get what we need, particularly if we deny that we have needs. And most of all, we can’t give from a place of emptiness. It’s not that giving is bad, far from it. But if we do not love and respect ourselves first how can we hope to love others?
Have you noticed that you feel good around some people but not others?
People who love themselves in a healthy way, not in a narcissistic way, radiate happiness and joy. They are positive and clear, they have clear boundaries and everyone knows where they stand when interacting with them. It’s not that they don’t experience pain and hard times, rather that the respect and care they show for themselves has a ripple effect on others. They are easier to connect with because they don’t have a hidden agenda and the love and respect they offer themselves is also demonstrated in the compassion they have for others. They are open-hearted and this shows.
So how do we learn to love ourselves if we have not been used to this concept?
We may start by thinking about how we would care for a best friend or a child. We notice our thoughts and behaviours and become aware of the ways in which we judge ourselves or are harsh with ourselves. We start to think of this as self-care. Whether it’s going to a yoga or meditation class or eating fresh and healthy food, we start to think in terms of nourishing ourselves: body, mind and soul.
For many this is a life long process as we become aware of habits and patterns which are not in our own best interests.
Wherever you are, it may be time to take stock and do a bit of an inventory: how could you take better care of yourself right now? Make it an intention to have some compassion for yourself. Offer yourself a little kindness and watch that grow as the ripples of loving kindness expand in your increased capacity to have compassion for those around you. Far from being selfish, starting with some self-love ends up in giving you more love for others.
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
Many people think that loving themselves makes them selfish, that taking care of yourself first is taking away from the other people in your life.
I think of it as the oxygen mask on the airplane. If you recall, the instruction is to secure your own oxygen mask before helping children, the elderly, or anyone else because that way everyone wins. Loving yourself means helping other people, too, but you can only do that if you have the energy and the time to do that for others. I challenge you to think of yourself as an example. Would you be proud if your children or your friends treated themselves the way that you do yourself? If not, then change it.
The most important way to love yourself is to be kind to you.
1. Notice how you talk to yourself.
If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you shouldn’t say it to you. Be sure to compliment yourself and remember the good things you do.
2. Another great way of loving yourself is by being kind to yourself.
Nurture yourself with good food, good conversations, good books, whatever good things that make you feel loved.
3. Make an appointment with yourself so that you take the time to do what you need.
Want to work out or watch a movie? Put it on your schedule, and make it as important as every other appointment you have.
4. Ask for what you need.
Sometimes we need help, and asking for it is a great way to love yourself.
5. Show others how to care for you by doing it for yourself.
We can’t really expect love from others if we don’t show love to ourselves.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
We live in an age where we get so caught up in our day to day routine and what’s expected of us, that our own needs take a back seat to everyone else’s.
In turn, we are left feeling exhausted and worn out-trying so hard to be happy and be what others want us to be- we become further disconnected from ourselves and don’t live life according to what matters to us.
When you look back on your life on your 80th birthday- what do you want to see?
Is it possible to slow down enough to even acknowledge what’s important to you and how you want to live your life? Do you give yourself permission to?
In our culture, it has become “selfish” to take care of ourselves and put our needs before others. So, in turn, we find ourselves trying to be everything to everyone in our world and ignore the most vital person- you. As we do this, we begin to treat ourselves as the enemy- worrying so much about taking care of everyone else, we become our own harshest critic. Would you tell someone you love and care about some of the things that you tell yourself?
We set unrealistic expectations of what we think we should be and constantly compare ourselves to others.
We believe that if we criticize ourselves enough, we will continue to be “motivated”, to work “harder”, to be “better”- only then will we will deserve to be loved.
As long as we continue to run this race, we will always lose. How can you stop?
1. Recognize your inner critic: Recognizing and separating yourself from the inner critic (the voice in your head that tells you all the ways that you are not good enough) is key. There is a difference between facts and beliefs/interpretations- just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
2. Create meaning and joy: Start acknowledging and aligning with what really matters to you, to your deeper purpose. If tomorrow was your last day, how would you want to be remembered? Now make a conscious choice to live like that TODAY.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others: Only compare yourself to the former you. Any day we can let go of our old story and adapt a new one.
Ashleigh Peterson, MA, CAC – www.liveinspiredcounseling.org
Too often we think self-love equals narcissism; that it means being self-centered, selfish, and arrogant.
On the flip side, the belief is that true love equals sacrifice, minimizing personal needs, and general lack of self-focus, always giving.
Within this context, it is confusing to learn how to live out of a place of true self-love. What is missing is a realistic assessment of our strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes. The narcissist has not learned proper self-love, so he or she must find that validation in others, often running them to the ground when they do not meet that black hole of demand. The over-giver is also trying to find love by buying it through service until he or she is exhausted and depressed.
A healthier balance is to have compassion on our self, to have a realistic assessment of what we are willing to give and of who we are.
Shedding the narcissistic persona requires getting in touch with what our needs are and how we can meet those without demanding others do it for us. Shedding our martyr complex with over-giving requires us to be honest about what we are trying to get and how to accomplish that without the manipulative type of sacrifice.
The first step is “hugging our cactus”, all our prickly parts that create pain in our relationships and within ourselves. It means abandoning the belief that in order to truly love ourselves or for others to love us, we must be perfect.
Secondly, as we learn to “hug our cactus”, we can forgive ourselves, and in turn forgive others, extending love and grace in full measure. We finally realize we can’t get it right all the time, and so let others and ourselves off the hook, embracing the flaws we all have.
I believe this creates the kind of change we crave, bringing peace, joy, and ultimately healthy love of self and others.
Judy Hansen, MA, LPCC – www.powerforlivingtherapy.com
Do you often find yourself giving energy, time, and focus to others all day, only to find that you’ve forgotten to take care of yourself?
Do your needs tend to come last, with some self-care squeezed in only if there’s a moment after everyone else’s needs have been attended to?
If so, you’re not alone.
Many of us have daily responsibilities that reach beyond ourselves. Whether we’re taking care of kids, aging parents, spouses, employers, pets, or all of the above, it’s easy to neglect our own needs. Is it just lack of time? Or could it be something else?
In my therapy group for adult children of aging parents, I often hear members express exhaustion, overwhelm, and resentment at being in the position of caregiver.
Though we recognize that the need for respite and are desperate for time to rejuvenate, we are often reticent to take a break. A common culprit? Feelings of guilt. Thoughts run through our heads that sound like “my loved one did so much for me. I need to be here for them.” “If I’m not here around on the clock, I’m a bad daughter.” Thoughts like these can demoralize us and keep us caught in a loop of overwork and burnout.
Giving to others until we deplete ourselves is not what it means to be a “good” person.
Everyone who has ever flown on an airplane has heard the instructions to put on your oxygen mask first before you can help others. Recognizing, acknowledging and gently challenging the thoughts that lead to guilt is a good first start toward self-care. Modeling self-love through self-care is a gift that we can give others, and ourselves. Give yourself permission to care for yourself and you may find you have more to give to others as well.
Marnee Reiley, LMFT (CA Lic. 83021) – www.YourOCTherapist.com
I suppose the level of importance of self-love, and self-care really never hit home for me, despite my studies and practice, until I came to work at the Children’s Hospital, on the eating disorder unit.
It wasn’t until I started seeing children paralyzed by a lack of self-love that an emergency started to burn inside of me. How did we as adults allow these innocent hearts and minds become so tarnished by our competitive, never good enough, self loathing ways of living. I made it my mission to take a long hard look in the emotional mirror, and work on my own self-love, in order to model and help these young ones do the same.
The interactions with these courageous children moved me.
Forcing me to look at what old messages I was carrying around, that no longer fit in my life. Kiddos often inquired about how to have self-esteem and confidence. They were asking great questions, we don’t teach children how to have self esteem, or how to love oneself. I was so motivated by these brave young souls; I vowed to be a positive role model and share when/if appropriate my own journey, and struggles to this day. Modeling that even those who have been educated on the topic, and appear confident, constantly have to work towards self-love.
My suggestions for you:
1. Remember the advice from the flight attendants
You have to put your emergency oxygen mask on before assisting others. If you aren’t ensuring your needs are taken care of, how are you supposed to assist others? Be sure that are maintain a healthy balance of giving to our loved ones, as well as taking some time out for us.
2. Throw out the idea of instant gratification
We live in a very impatient society. Let’s be realistic, a journey towards self-love takes time. It’s the little opportunities, baby steps that start the journey.
3. Practice daily acts of self-love
How can you practice self-love that nourishes mind body and soul daily? Perhaps exercise, fueling your body with adequate nutrition, getting enough sleep, advocating for your needs, communicating to your partner. Maybe it’s getting a massage, indulging in a night out with friends, or giving back, attending a church service, reading a self-help book. Remember, each day and everyone’s daily love acts can look different.
4. Catch yourself with the negative self-talk!
So often we utilize self-sabotaging, or negative language when talking with ourselves. The danger of having such isolating talk is that we don’t have anyone else to point out how disruptive and damaging they can be! Get rid of “should”, and stop comparing yourself to other people. When you find yourself having a hard day, and talking negatively to yourself, how can you reframe it? We often are taught how to use grace and be gentle with others, however very rarely are we taught how to apply grace to ourselves.
5. Words of affirmation
Give yourself complements, even if you’re struggling, and the only compliment you’re able to give yourself is that you made it through the day! That’s all that matters! Start noticing and paying attention more to the positives and things you’re proud of, embrace having a mentality of having your needs met, rather than a scarcity mentality.
Jessica Hopkins, MA, NCC – www.thriveccofco.com
What does loving yourself mean to you?
If you believe loving yourself is being egotistical or narcissistic, then you were probably socialized to feel that it is of greater importance to put others before yourself, and you may benefit from reframing that belief. When we don’t love ourselves we often don’t feel respected, heard, seen, valued, or even worthy…and feeling this way is miserably lonely.
So how can we begin to honor ourselves, feel worthy of appreciation and love, and be seen and heard?
1. Pay attention to how you are talking to yourself
Do you talk yourself out of things because you think “I’m not good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough”? Stop those thoughts by capturing a list of all the messages like this you’ve been telling yourself. On a sheet of paper, list all the ways you have felt or heard about yourself – and examine each one, asking where does this message come from? Who’s voice do you hear when you read the words? Is this message true and how do you know that? And finally, what would you tell a friend who is talking to themselves in the way that you have been?
2. Figure out what YOU want
As a person who has struggled with how to love myself, one of the biggest epiphanies I ever had was realizing that if I did not know what I wanted and needed, how could I expect anyone else to know this information? I was isolating myself without this clarity!
On the other side of that same sheet of paper, make a list of how you want to be seen. Do you want to be viewed as confident, intelligent, or funny? How or when do you feel these traits, and how can you cultivate more of that energy into your life? Continue this list by adding what you like to do, and what you hope for in your life – travel, relationships, career – anything.
3. Practice Self Care
Taking care of yourself demonstrates you believe you are worthy of those efforts. Start small, treat yourself to a cup of your favorite tea, or take a bubble bath; but make a conscious daily effort to do something kind for yourself. Respect your body and your mind by nourishing them.
Self-love does not happen overnight, and it takes ongoing practice – and I hope you will find that YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Aimee Aron-Reno, MA, NCC, LPC – www.aimeearon.com
Are you your harshest critic? Your own worst enemy? It’s time to make a change and start giving yourself the love and respect that you deserve!
Here are a few tips to start.
1. Do something nice for yourself, DAILY!
It feels good when someone else does something nice for you. You feel special, important and loved. Something we all crave. Don’t wait for someone else to do something nice for you, do it for yourself. Buy yourself flowers, treat yourself to coffee, listen to your favorite song on the radio and crank it up. Do something that you enjoy and love, just for you, just because.
2. Say nice things to yourself and to others.
Find yourself judging yourself and others? Criticizing and critiquing? Negative thoughts can really bring you down. They make you feel worse about yourself and others. When you find yourself saying or thinking something negative, acknowledge the negative thought, thank it and find the positive.
3. Try some positive affirmations.
Before you start, did you know in order for an affirmation to work, you have to believe it? That’s why it is so easy to get frustrated with affirmations. You keep saying them and nothing changes, it’s because on some level you don’t believe the affirmation. When you create an affirmation, keep rewording it until it feels good and believable. If you tell yourself, “I am beautiful.” But you don’t feel it, nothing is going to change. Change it to, “I am pretty, cute, I am working on being beautiful, I am in the works of becoming beautiful.”
4. Treat yourself like your own best friend, instead of treating yourself like your own worst enemy.
Become your own cheerleader. Instead of criticizing how horrible you did, congratulate yourself for trying and give yourself credit for showing up. Treat yourself how you treat your best friends. Be in your own corner, encouraging and cheering yourself on.
Bonus activity- create a poster or container that celebrates you. Put all your accomplishments and compliments here. If someone compliments you at the store, write it on a piece of paper and place it in or on your celebration of you container or poster. Have a fabulous picture of yourself, or a happy memory photo, they can go on the poster or in the box too. Make sure, you place your container where you will see it daily.
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
What is love? Love is the energy of life moving through your heart and toward the object of your affection.
Self-love is no different. We love ourselves when we allow life energy to fill us up from the inside to the point that it overflows into the world. From an energy perspective, there is no way to really love another without loving yourself first.
Many of us are so used to subtly rejecting ourselves that we’ve forgotten how to allow the energy of life to penetrate our hearts. Before loving energy can even reach the heart, we resist and block it with judgments about ourselves. Self-rejection is so subtle that it’s often automatic and unconscious.
Don’t worry about trying to love every aspect of your personality and body.
That’s a waste of time. Simply begin to practice allowing. Sit in silence for a few moments every day and focus on creating an atmosphere of love within yourself. This loving environment invites life energy to enter and gently open you up from the inside.
If you make this a habit your life will transform. You will have more energy, more intuition, and one day you will look in the mirror and know that you are worthy of all the love you can handle.
Kimberly Kingsley, Energy Coach – www.kimberlykingsley.com
“You have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else” is a common phrase that most of us have heard throughout our lives.
The reason we have all heard it at various times is because it holds a lot of truth. How you love yourself sets the foundation for the decisions you make about your life, your relationships, your parenting, and your overall happiness.
Loving yourself can prove to be a challenge as many of us weren’t taught to love ourselves growing up, or weren’t valued and nurtured by the caregivers in our lives. It’s easy to adopt the negative messages that so many of us were given as children and sometimes as adults. Many times it’s believed that in order to love yourself, everyone needs to think you’re great and you must be close to perfect. If you do things purely for yourself then you’re “selfish”. SO NOT TRUE!
Be mindful of the negative message you are giving yourself.
Whether they are messages that come from within you or messages you have heard from other people, learn to challenge those negative beliefs. Create a new pattern of communication with yourself. Take a good look at what other people say to you and filter it, rather than taking it all in as “truth”. Practice replacing the negative messages with positive messages and affirmations on a regular basis. The more you’re able to challenge the negative, the more you will learn to believe the positive and practice self-compassion.
In order to love yourself you have to learn who you are.
Pay attention to yourself. What are your needs? What do you want? What are you passionate about? It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting everyone else’s needs above our own and totally lose sight of who we are. Once you take the time to get to know who you are, make sure to prioritize yourself.
Take time to nurture yourself.
Set aside time to do what you like to do and what you’re passionate about. Take care of yourself and your own needs rather than putting yourself on the back burner, or totally off of the stove all together. Understand that it’s good to set boundaries! Boundaries are a requirement in order to make time for yourself. Sometimes boundaries are required to cut out some of negative influencers in life.
Reach out to others if you are having a hard time mastering these skills and need support from a trusted friend or counselor.
When you are happy within yourself and truly understand that you are loveable and have value, you will be able to clearly see who you are and love who you are. It will be easier to set appropriate boundaries because you will understand you deserve to have them. When you love yourself, then you will be able to experience fuller relationships. You will be that better parent or partner because you will happy within yourself. You absolutely need to build your foundation first.
Remember, the foundation is loving YOU first!
Sarah Higgins, MA, MA, LPC – www.chrysalisfamilygrowth.com
Loving oneself is a challenging art in which we find balance in meeting our four core needs: physical (job, shelter, clothing, food, health, intellectual stimulation), emotional (confronting baggage, acknowledging emotions and dealing with them in healthy ways), spiritual (attending to our spiritual needs through group or individual practice), and relational (we were all designed to connect with other humans).
Chances are you are not experiencing balance in all four areas.
Look at your life and how you spend your time. If this practice is new to you, start by noticing how you are doing with meeting your basic needs in the four areas. If you are not sure, ask a trusted friend or family member to give you an outside perspective on how you are doing.
Deficits in the physical realm?
Maybe you have a job that supports you financially but does little for your intellectual stimulation. Joining a group or reading about topics of interest to you would be a way to love yourself and bring balance into your life. Perhaps you are lacking in caring for your body by not getting enough exercise, eating poorly or not getting enough sleep. You could join a group focused on healthier living, join a gym or go for a walk. Choose healthier food found in its natural state over processed foods. Allow yourself time to sleep by turning off the TV and going to bed earlier.
You can meet your needs in the emotional realm by giving yourself the gift of working with a life coach or therapist to help you uncover unhealthy habits you have developed that get in the way of handling your emotions with gentleness and respect.
Take time to notice what you are feeling, acknowledge your emotions and understand why they are there.
Knowing what you believe and studying it daily is one way you can love yourself through bringing balance into your spiritual life. Attending a group dedicated to your particular type of spiritual practice can fulfill several of your needs at once.
It does not matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, all of us need relational connections with at least a few trusted people.
Finding the right people can be challenging. Start by going to groups or participating in causes that matter to you. Over time you will find people with whom you can connect. Create regular time to invest in these relationships.
Karen Thacker, LPC – www.journeyforward.net
This is one of the most common challenges people face.
Even those who may appear confident often find it difficult to experience self-love. So, what gets in the way? We aren’t born hating ourselves so somewhere along the way we come to believe that we’re not loveable, or not deserving of love. Well, not only is it possible to change these beliefs, it’s also possible to learn new thought patterns and behaviors that will build self-love.
1. What gets in the way?
Where did you learn that you weren’t loveable or worthy of love? Whose voice is telling you mean things about yourself? Often even after that person is no longer around (exboyfriend or girlfriend, for example), we continue to say to ourselves the mean things they said to us. Identifying whose voice we’re repeating can give us the information we need to change the pattern and challenge the beliefs.
2. Slow down and notice your thoughts.
When you become aware of the things you say to yourself that are mean, unloving or that make you feel unworthy, then you can challenge these thoughts and replace them.
3. Coach yourself through.
As the unloving thoughts arise, talk yourself through the process of changing them. For example your internal conversation could sound something like this: Mean thought: “I’m so stupid!”
Internal coaching voice: “Hang on! That’s what they used to say to me, but I don’t want to say these things to myself anymore!”
New, positive, truthful thoughts: “I’m a hard worker. I’m kind and creative. I’m learning to love myself.”
4. Persistence is key!
This process can take some time! So don’t get discouraged and give up as the negative thoughts pop into your head. It took time to create the patterns you have and it will take time to change them.
5. Gratitude creates change.
Look around you, examine your life, your relationships. Find things to be grateful for and take a few moments each day to hold that feeling of gratitude in your heart. Smile and take a deep belly breath as you consider what is right in your life. It can be simple things and they don’t need to be perfect. As you embrace what you’re grateful for, it will help you increase your gratitude for your strengths, your abilities and how far you’ve already come.
Be gentle with yourself throughout this process! Your thoughts and beliefs won’t change overnight, but they will change as you consistently look inward with kindness, empathy and gratitude. You are worthy of love and you can come to know that it is true!
Chris Adams Richards, LCSW – www.southvalleytherapy.com
Most of us have critical voices inside that speak to us and say that we are not good enough, worthy enough or at any moment we will be found out that we are a fraud.
Like the movie Birdman, we have a part of us that yells at us, puts us down, or even throws us across the room. These voices are so strong that most of us fall into the trap of just believing these voices as our truth. For others, we have an inflated sense of being great or all capable to make our self-hatred invisible to others and even ourselves. I fell into the trap for years of believing that I was wrong and stupid until, with the help of others, I could see that this was a mirage.
We all want to feel good and be confident, so why is our habitual tendency to hate ourselves?
I believe that the reason for this self-hatred is what psychologist Mark Epstein refers to as “the basic fault”. The basic fault is the tendency for most people to blame themselves or feel that there is something wrong or inadequate about them. This feeling of inadequacy is actually the internalized shortcomings that we experience in childhood from our parents limitations. Childhood does not have to be terribly traumatic for this to happen, as parents are never perfect. There is also no way for a child to make sense of parent’s shortcomings. Children don’t think things like “Oh, that makes sense that my parents can’t give me validation because they have difficulty seeing outside their perspective!” No, this is a very adult way of thinking. Children do not have the language or perspective needed to make sense of parental inadequacies, therefore they will ALWAYS blame themselves to have the inconceivable make sense.
So what do can we do to love ourselves?
1. Realize that there is actually nothing wrong with you
I know you are convinced! (Or convinced there is never anything wrong with you to protect against self-blame). Think about what a child would have to do to BE wrong or to BE bad. We are all just grown children. Rely on the knowledge that it is human nature to be convinced we are inadequate, but it is not the real truth.
2. When in doubt, get neutral
Affirmations can fall flat if we don’t feel good about ourselves. When in doubt, just see present moment at face value or as “just the facts ma’am”. Ex. Right now I am in fear. Now I am angry. Now I am in traffic. Now I find my clothing unpleasant. Try to see things as neutral if feeling good is too big a stretch.
3. Remember times you have felt love, compassion, confidence and freedom
Think of images, people, ancestors, relatives, idols, characters, colors, nature that give you a feeling of love, compassion, playfulness or sense of confidence. Notice how these memories or thoughts allow you to feel inside. Feel these qualities within your body even if they are very small. These qualities are within you in this moment and can expand with practice.
4. Remember that all humans are part of nature. Would we regard animals as BEING bad?
Sure my dog has accidents and eats toilet paper but he is not a bad animal. He is fundamentally good at heart and all his “mistakes” he innocently does as a means of survival. If we are made of the same stuff as babies, and of the stars, then what is there to hate?
5. Treat Yo Self… like Royalty!
As they say on the TV show Parks and Rec, “Treat Yo Self!” Show up for yourself the way you show up for others. If there is nothing wrong with you, then you are as valued and as good as those that you give to. Why would you be treated any differently than those you love? Do things with a sense of respect for yourself because it FEELS GOOD, and when you can’t do this, just be kind to yourself.
And if you fall, be gentle. Being gentle is the way of the strongest and most confident kings and queens, as they don’t need aggression to get the job done.
Always remember you are part of nature and loveable as you are.
Adrienne Glasser, LCSW, RDMT – www.experiencewellnessgroup.com
Unworthiness is a plague on this planet and the core issue behind all that binds us up in life.
I believe it is the “silent troublemaker” causing all the discord that we are so painfully trying to overcome.
Everything we do or do not do in life, is a reflection of our worth (self-love) or a reflection our unworthiness.
In my opinion, making the decision to heal one’s self-worth is the primary and most essential step one can make if he or she is truly wishing to heal patterns of yesteryear and to catapult forward into the life he or she has always desired.
9 Key Points of Self-Worth Recovery
1. Connect With Your Divinity– Know above all else you are a spiritual being fully worthy of love, compassion and forgiveness. By connecting to Spirit, we align ourselves to co-create with the greatest superpower in the Universe.
2. Inner Dialogue– Police your inner dialogue with vigilance and discipline. The words we speak inwardly are the behaviors we exhibit outwardly.
3. You Are Your Own Authority– No one can possibly know what is best for you, other than YOU. You are an authentic, creative genius fully equipped to make outstanding decisions for your life. Learning to trust yourself is vital to cultivating and living within your self-worth.
4. Embrace Your Authenticity– Do not try to duplicate others. They are them and you are you. The world needs you as you are! Be willing to drop the mask of your false self and live each moment honoring who you truly are.
5. Build A Supportive/Inspiring Community– What we hear and see on a daily basis is what we will think about and what will become our beliefs. Surrounding ourselves with love-filled people and messages will support our spiritual growth and enhance our self-worth.
6. Practice Affirmations and Setting Intentions– Blanket your life with affirmations and intentions that support what you wish to achieve by speaking statements that act as if you already have it. Keep keen focus on your goals. For example: I have an equally loving and supportive partner.
7. Stop Compromising Your Sacred Self– Value who you are and what you are worthy of. Stop compromising your values to please others. You are no one’s doormat.
8. Meditation– Clearing your mind allows you to connect with the Universe. It clears a runway for our spiritual guidance to land. A cluttered mind cannot receive. And open mind does.
9. Boundaries– We teach others how to treat us and it begins with clearly defined, solid boundaries. Be willing to set limits when others cross your lines. Learn that “No” is a complete sentence.
Self-worth recovery is a process. Be diligent, but gentle on your journey. No one can do this for you – it is an inside job. Never give up! Understand that healing your self-worth will be the best decision you have ever made. You are worth it!
Kristen Brown, Author of From Doormat To Sweet Empowerment – www.sweetempowerment.com
We can’t give love to those we care about unless we truly love ourselves.
It is impossible to give that which we do not have. But how can we learn to love ourselves, truly and deeply? Most of us grow up in a world of “compare and despair” – from young preteens comparing themselves to figure out who they are in the world to adults who wish for that which they think others have.
How often do you hear people despairing out loud, “She’s so thin! I wish I were that thin.” “He has a great job with a good company….I bet he makes oodles of money!” It takes mindfulness to stop “compare and despair.” It’s a conscious choice to love yourself and treat yourself kindly. Only then are you filled up enough to share that love with a partner, your children, your neighbors and the world.
A simple 2 step practice will get you there before you know it!
1. Mirror practice: This may seem like a challenging practice at first but it’s the #1 way to begin to appreciate yourself. Every night when you brush your teeth (and you look in the mirror), tell yourself one thing that you love about yourself. If you cannot find something – make it up.
The old cliche’ “fake it ’til you make it” does actually work. As you build your repertoire, try telling yourself several things. This is a 30-day practice. Watch love grow inside you!
2. Meditation practice: This is a beautiful practice of letting love in. Most of us have love all around us but because of old patterning, we bat it away and don’t allow ourselves to truly receive. This 5-10 minutes practice (or even less) invites you to sit down and take 3 deep breaths. Use your imagination to call forth someone who truly and purely loves you. Could be a relative, a pet, an old teacher, someone you’ve known for a long time or someone you just met but who you know admires you.
Bring that person in front of you and in your meditation, guide yourself to open a door in front of your heart. Connect with your in-breath and allow their love to pour into your heart! Bring the love to every single cell of your body and imagine your cells dancing and smiling! Do this every day for 30-days as well….and watch the love grow!
Robyn Vogel, MA, LMHC – www.comebacktolove.com
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