We live in a world where people feel like they need to wait to love themselves. Like we have to unlock some achievement, obtain a goal or get a little closer to perfection before we deem ourselves worthy of our own love. What the fuck kind of sense does that make? Why are you waiting to love yourself? The worst part is that more often than not we set ourselves up for failure by selecting these unattainable (usually physical) goals for ourselves. We fail, then beat ourselves up, continue to feel unworthy of our own love and either give up for awhile or get back up and try again, repeating the cycle.
This is no way to live, and yet it’s how most of us do. If you ever want to truly be happy with yourself, you have to start now. Flaws and all, because even if you are able to achieve whatever it is you are trying to, there will always be something more you want, and you’ll hold off on the self-love yet again.
So how do you start now? How do you love yourself when you haven’t accomplished your career goals, lost the weight you’ve been wanting to, or found someone to be in a relationship with?
Change the story
I attended a luncheon where one of my mentors was speaking, and she gave some incredible advice on how to kick the negative self-talk. “Write down everything bad you have to say about yourself. All of it. Be brutal.” She said, “Then, hire a lawyer (yourself) and dispute every point.”
All of the negative things you tell yourself, can be argued. When you’re the one fighting the negativity, it can be very powerful.
Affirm & be kind
It’s amazing to see how unkind we are to ourselves on a regular basis. Changing the story is a good place to start, but maintenance is important. Affirmations may seem super cheesy but they actually really work. Start every day looking at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself a positive affirmation. Even if you don’t believe it. Start small.
“I am a good friend.”
“I am worthy of love.”
“I can accomplish whatever I set out to do.”
Those are all solid examples. In time this will get easier, then you can add a second affirmation and then a third.
Throughout the day if you find yourself saying negative things, stop yourself. Stop yourself right in your tracks and change the story.
You are not your job. You are not your relationship. You are not a car, a designer bag or any other shiny, expensive item. You are not your love handles, your baby weight or your stretch marks. You are a person. You are a soul. What is inside of you is everything. How you live, how you love and how you give– is everything. You should not allow yourself to be defined by the external– and you shouldn’t hold out from loving yourself because of it either. If you don’t have, but want these things- work for them. But know that they do not increase your personal value.
Give of yourself
When you give in abundance, you receive in abundance. Doing kind, selfless things for others is guaranteed to make you feel good about yourself, even if it’s just a tiny bit. When you don’t love yourself it’s easy to get wrapped up in an egocentric world, where you and your flaws are the only things that exist. When you step outside yourself and do good for others, it lends perspective. You are doing kind things for others because you can and you are able. Other people’s hardships and problems don’t take away from yours of course, but there is a level of gratitude that comes with knowing things aren’t quite as hard for you as they may be for someone else.
Those people in your life that put you down? The people who seem to be competing with you, mean to you, unsupportive of you or seem to always find ways to make you feel bad about yourself– get rid of them. You may need to end a friendship or reevaluate your romantic partner. Sometimes can do this simply by taking a step back and engaging less with these people, it doesn’t always have to be some big dramatic event. Negativity breeds negativity and these people could be bringing you down hard.
Above all else, have gratitude in your heart. If you are reading this, you most likely have a lot to be grateful for. Find the silver lining in tough situations and utilize an attitude of gratitude in the face of adversity. It can be so hard at first to see the good when the bad is clouding your vision, but once you start focusing on the positive, it makes loving yourself that much easier.
Finally, the hardest yet the most freeing of them all, is to simply start being more accepting of yourself. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, but you’re unable to change it– then you need to accept it as part of you. If you are able to change it, here is where it gets tricky– you have to accept yourself as you are now. Be patient and kind to yourself on your quest for change, and know that these things take time. If you love you now, you’re definitely going to love yourself when you get ‘there’ wherever your ‘there’ may be.