‘You can’t love anyone until you love yourself.’
What a great piece of advice, except how many people reading this actually practice it? Now I’m not talking about the Kanye West self love that means everyone else is below you. No, I mean the love that allows you to be your true self because you deserve nothing less. Do you believe that you deserve the best? If you don’t that is okay, you are not alone. The first thing is to acknowledge that fact, then maybe by the end of this you can go a little easier on yourself.
Knowing that you are deserving of love and respect is usually a lesson that begins very young. The problem is that more often then not little girls are described as ‘pretty, sweet and good’. While boys can often be labelled as ‘strong, brave and smart.’ What happens when those little girls grow up and they don’t feel pretty? Or what happens when that little boy grows up afraid? Attractiveness and bravery are a very tiny part of the spectrum of the human experience. However, there is an insurmountable pressure put on these traits, which makes it easy to believe you are lacking. These feelings of inadequacy can quickly lead to lower feelings of self worth from a young age.
Your confidence can take a hit later in life, even if you had a very lovely upbringing. The ending of a relationship, job loss or prejudices; depending on your outlook on life these events can have huge impacts on how you feel about yourself. When these events occur it can be important to see where our thinking goes.
- ‘He/she cheated because they don’t love me, I’m not lovable.’
- ‘I was fired because I’m a terrible worker and I wasn’t good enough at that job. I’m a failure.’
- ‘They don’t even know me and they don’t like me. There must be something wrong with me’.
The above examples demonstrate how a negative thought can develop into negative feelings. An important thing to remember is that thoughts are not facts. They are notions that pop into our heads and often have little or no truth to back them up.
Taking these same examples let’s look at how they could be thought about differently:
- ‘He/she cheated on me because they weren’t dedicated to this relationship. I deserve better and now is my opportunity to find that.’
- ‘I didn’t do my best in that job because it’s not for me. I need to find something better suited to my interests.’
- ‘They are judging me on appearance alone, what a tiny brain they must have…’
Now of course all of this is easier said then done. When you get your heartbroken or loose a job it is natural to spend some time grieving. However, it is important that in these situations you see where your thinking leads. Be sad that these things have happened but try not to feel ashamed that they did.
If you have not been feeling the greatest about yourself and you scoffed at the idea of self love. Here are a few things you can try:
Step 1– Quiet that judging voice in your head. The one that tells you that you’re lazy, or over weight. Or the one that makes you feel sick to your stomach when you relive that embarrassing moment from 12 years ago. I bet you are the only person that remembers it so vividly.
Step 2 – Stop comparing yourself to others. You will be able to find tons of people in a better or worse situation than you. There is only one of you with all of your life experience and tall tales. That is something to cherish, don’t wish your life away trying to be someone else.
Step 3 – Say this with me, ‘There is no such thing as perfect.’ What exactly do you believe perfection looks like? I think it looks like imaginary land. Just do your best and expect others to do the same, to ask for more is unreasonable.
Step 4 – Be nice to other people. Putting others down to help yourself feel better won’t work forever, I’m not sure it ever does. It has been found that being nice to others makes you feel better about yourself. Buy a coffee for the person behind you, hold open a door, smile at a stranger. Do this because the world needs more kindness and you can add to that.
Step 5 – Spend time with people who support you. Cut out the people, places and organisations that make you feel small and worthless. You teach the world how to treat you, make sure it knows you have high standards.
When it comes to having love for who you are it really comes down to going easy on yourself. Not putting so much pressure on the life you think you should be living and instead start enjoying the life you are living. Small changes can make a big difference so start today. Start by no longer allowing others to treat you badly, that includes the voice in your head. No matter what story you have been repeating in your mind, starting today it can all be re-written. You are the protagonist of your life, will you be the hero or the villain?
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” – C.G. Jung
If you are interested in feeling differently about yourself and have thought about counselling feel free to contact Angela through her website: http://www.adastratherapy.com
If you would like to read more from her check out her blog: adastratherapy.wordpress.com