All of us have those times where we talk down to ourselves. We feel inferior, and belittle ourselves with harsh words. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. It’s important to remember, we will never be able to achieve self-love if we only focus on what we hate.
I must admit, I am harder on myself than I should be. On an almost daily basis, I struggle to find something I like about who or what I am. It’s not that I am a bad person, just someone who sees beauty in others more easily than I see in myself. It’s a painful way to live, so why do we do it? Why do we appreciate something in others, yet disregard the same thing within ourselves?
Maybe it is how we were raised. We were brought up with faulty beliefs about success, beauty, and so much more. We were told to go to college, find a good-paying job, get married, have kids, look like this person, buy this car, etc. Individuality was slowly stripped away and we were left with a list of things to achieve- whether we wanted them or not. For example, I am a 35 year old woman with no children, and I am often asked why I don’t have any kids. As if it is expected of every woman over 30 to have offspring. When I am asked this question, I immediately become uncomfortable and for a moment feel like I have failed as a woman. The expectations we have for ourselves are tough enough to fulfill, but the ones society has for entire genders are downright ridiculous.
It has taken me a long time to get comfortable in my own skin, and it is something I have to work on every day. When I hear that negative little voice pop up, I remind myself that I only have to be me. That’s all. I don’t have to “measure up” to anyone else’s standards, and I certainly don’t have to apologize for failing to meet them. Neither do you.
We beat ourselves up over the stupidest things- things that really don’t matter. Who cares if you don’t have all of your teeth or if you aren’t a supermodel- these things are utterly irrelevant. You don’t have to like everything about yourself, but you do have to like something. That is a good starting point for your journey to self-love. If you find that you stumble along your path and are tempted to be mean to yourself, remember the following:
1. While you are comparing yourself to someone else, they are doing the same.
Every one of us compares ourselves to someone else. Even the people we look at and assume they have it all together- they don’t. They are busy comparing themselves to someone else too. We judge ourselves and then judge others, but you know what? We are all beautifully imperfect human beings. Compassion and understanding, towards ourselves and others, will help us to see that we are all going through the same universal challenges.
2. Don’t believe everything you think.
Your mind is a powerful tool, and it can be a very convincing liar. If you allow negative thoughts to become your personal truth, you will be sucked into an unhealthy and exhausting downward spiral. When a cruel or disheartening thought goes through your head, silence it with, “that’s not true.” Then follow that up with something that is true. Remember, you create your own reality.
3. There is always more to love than hate.
At any given moment, I can tell you five things I dislike about myself. But, I can tell you a hundred things that I love. There will always be more about yourself to love than hate.
So, when you start to think about those things you consider flaws, keep in mind that you are alive and breathing, and have the chance to face today with a smile. Shift your focus from those “flaws” to what you have achieved and have yet to achieve.
4. You deserve to be loved, even when you think you don’t.
A lot of self-depreciating thoughts and feelings stem from what we think we deserve.
In the past, I was told I was venomous with my words. Anger would seep out and things were said which were not meant, but damage was done. Even if the other person showed forgiveness and compassion, I could not do that for myself. I felt so terrible for saying those things that even though they wanted to show me love and understanding, I pushed them away.
This is when we need love the most, and we need to allow it. Let others love you- especially when you can’t love yourself.
5. Accept now so you can be satisfied with later.
Through the years I have learned that growth is dependent on acceptance. If you want to be happy with where you are going, you need to find peace with where you are currently.
When you start to appreciate everything around you (even the less-than-great things), you will find your journey towards self-love is more rewarding and satisfying.
6. Forget about perfection.
This is a difficult one for me to remember, so I have these words written down throughout my house. I need a constant reminder because striving for perfection is something I was taught to do- something we were all taught to do. It’s unhealthy to focus on only achieving success because of how we treat ourselves when we fall short. We tend to beat ourselves up if we fail.
What’s really important is the act of trying- to attempt is greater than succeeding. The willingness to put ourselves out there in the first place is a sign of strength. Remember, you’ve grown a lot and are continuing to grow. Focus on how far you’ve come, not how far you have left to go.
7. You must love yourself, to love yourself.
I know this seems like the most obvious advice, almost annoyingly so, but it’s a simple truth. You have to allow yourself to love yourself if you want self-love to grow.
You can not achieve your goals if you keep telling yourself you are a failure. You can’t reach your highest potential if you keep telling yourself the opposite. This is basic stuff.
Accept yourself exactly as you are, even if you want to change. You will find your journey to self-love is easier if you already know that you are enough- in “as is” condition.
Personally, I have found this journey to be a difficult one, but one that I enjoy nonetheless. Reminding myself of all of the great things I have achieved so far, and of the beauty within, inspires me to continue down this path. Loving ourselves is paramount for loving others, and love is how we heal the world.
By Raven Fon