How to Like Yourself First: When Self-Love Feels Too Hard
I often write about self-love and the value there is in loving yourself. What we don’t often discuss is how we get to self-love. In other words, what are the steps to get there when we don’t even feel like we ‘like’ ourselves? This is about answering the question – how to like yourself the way you are?
Simply put, you cannot love yourself until you learn to like yourself and that is not as easy as it may sound. What can I do to like myself, you might ask? It might seem strange but liking yourself takes practise. Attitudes don’t change overnight and that applies to your attitude toward yourself as well. Especially if you have had a negative one towards yourself for years and years. It takes awareness, and work.
We are quick to talk about having a positive, can-do attitude, but very slow to realize this applies to the way we view ourselves. The way we talk to ourselves. The way we think about ourselves. And, the way we move through this physical life. If our entire energy field is heavy with negativity, we will never be able to step into a place of love. Basic stuff, right? Love and hate (or any other bleh, yucky emotions) cannot take up the same space. You cannot feel self-loathing and self-love at the same time. That is a concept anyone can understand. So, why oh why do we keep putting ourselves down, doubting ourselves and being our own bullies?
Take a moment to assess where you’re at on your attitude towards yourself. The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself if you would ever treat your loved ones the way you treat yourself. Ask yourself what can I do to like myself the way I like my best friend? This will help you make a shift in perspective to see that you don’t put the same expectations on your friends as you do on yourself. Why, though? Why is there no margin for error, allowances for emotions or anything less than perfection when it comes to ourselves? Totally unrealistic expectations! We are too hard on ourselves, full stop. We need a swift kick in the behind and a reminder that we are just as human as those in our lives that we treat with love and kindness.
Be More Realistic (and Forgiving)
Let’s take a closer look at this part of us that is expecting us to be perfect. Too often our entire self-image stems from being too hard on ourselves. I’m not smart enough, thin enough, sporty enough etc, etc. This is unrealistic and unhealthy for our psyche. We are setting ourselves up for failure when we have these unrealistic expectations. And, again, if you hold yourself up against someone you love would you expect the same standards of them? Or, would there be a little give because you know they’re just human? Would you be kinder? Why shouldn’t you receive the same level of kindness as everyone else?
Consider for a minute if you were to be gentler with yourself when you fail at something. Would you be more inclined to attempt something again if the response was kinder? You would absolutely be more willing to try things if failure was treated like a bruised knee instead of a broken heirloom. We need to take the pressure off just enough to keep us motivated and inspired. Maybe your attitude towards yourself has been built upon years of being yelled at for ‘spilling milk on the floor’ or getting unsatisfactory results at school but now is the time to take the power back. You have the ability to change the voice in your head towards a far more positive and encouraging one.
What I Like about Myself
Ok, step one in self-love 101. What do you like about yourself? Don’t say nothing, that’s not an option and it certainly won’t get us anywhere! Start with one thing. ‘I like my smile’ or ‘I like my eyes’. If you can’t find anything physical that you like about yourself then try ‘I like my handwriting’ or ‘I like my singing voice’. You might like your ability to paint or the way you are the one everyone turns to, to solve a problem. Maybe you’re a good listener or you bake the best chocolate cake in town.
Challenge yourself to write at least 20 things about yourself that you like. You will see that it becomes like breaking down your own walls. It gets easier and more fun as you add to the list and at some point, you’ll begin to smile on the inside when you realise how many great things you can think of to describe yourself. You realise that maybe you can learn to like yourself after all.
Before you go to that place of negativity, listening to that voice insisting that ‘there’s no point’ and ‘this isn’t going to help’ I want to remind you that when you lift yourself up and see how much you actually have to offer, your entire world will change. If you are so determined that this exercise won’t work, then do it and let me know. But, no excuses, you have to list 20 things before you can have any results to show for it.
Believe me, when love comes knocking on the door of your heart it’s not just renting a room for the night, it’s there to stay. So, digging deep and finding the reasons why you are amazing is the most worthwhile thing you can do. No matter how silly it may seem from your current negative standpoint. If it helps, pretend you are writing this as someone who loves you. Someone who sees all the beautiful parts of you. That could be your best friend, Mom, Dad etc.
There’s Only One You
While we’re talking about all those incredible things that make you you, let’s add that little gem of a reminder: there really is only one of you! There’s got to be a pretty good reason why you’re here, right! Learn to embrace your individuality, be proud of who you are, knowing that no one else on the earth can take the place of you. Your personality, perspective, talents and skills are unique to you. You are a beautiful melting pot of individuality, specially designed to fulfil your very own purpose on this earth.
It took me many years to accept that I was never meant to be anything other than who I am. The way I look, talk, feel, it’s all part of me. Take just one of those things away and I am no longer the same person. We sometimes struggle with this because we don’t quite know where we fit in, what our purpose in life is, but when you realize that it is only when you truly embrace who you are that the pieces all come together, it’s a revelation. Your uniqueness is your gift and the light that will guide you to your truth. Remember that you are a soul in a body. Remind yourself of this daily if you need to. Your value is never in question. Just being here, now, is proof enough that you were chosen for this life.
Take Your Time
I’ll add a side note here. You don’t have to like everything all at once. This might seem contradictory to the theme of the blog, but hear me out. While the ultimate goal may be to love and accept yourself fully, this is about baby steps. Choose something, even one thing, that you absolutely love about yourself. Remind yourself of that one thing daily. Try it out for 2wks, smiling at yourself in the mirror every time you notice that flood of positive energy. Add a bit of humour if it helps, ‘damn, my ass looks good in that skirt’ or ‘my solo just blew the roof off the house it was so good’. Make yourself feel like you’re on fire!
Whether you compliment yourself on your cooking, parenting, singing or whatever, make sure you do it every single day. Do not miss a day! This is building up the habit and, importantly, it’s building up your self-esteem. Confidence comes from feeling like you are capable, so keep re-assuring yourself that you’re doing a good job and you will begin to believe in yourself more. You’ve gotten so used to hearing negative words directed at you, so I understand that this can be hard to believe. But, remember, those words took time to grab hold of you. Commit to spending as much time as is needed to undo the damage by using positive words ONLY to talk to yourself. Words have power and it’s time to use them for good!
It’s Okay to Feel Down Sometimes
Don’t berate yourself for having feelings. It is part of being human, and a very important part at that! Your feelings are there to guide you. What you must never do is use them to slip into a negative space in your heart and mind. Give yourself the time you need to cry, to hide from the world for a while, but then you need to pick yourself up and show the world that you are stronger than before.
When your self confidence takes a dip, be there for yourself. It is one thing to be effected by life, but when you know that you are the one constant in your own life, that you are there providing the nurturing kindness to yourself, you can get through it all. We always think we need someone else to rescue us, but we can be our own heroes, and should be.
Accept Everyone’s Differences (Not just your own)
What I mean by this is that when we accept that we are all different and that that is the way it is meant to be, we can begin to accept that it’s ok if not everyone likes us. It doesn’t mean you are not good enough if Bill or Susie don’t like you. All it means is that you weren’t cut from the same cloth.
The need to be liked by others is a major contributing factor to us not deeming ourselves fit to be liked. So, let go. Just let go! You don’t like everyone and you’re perfectly okay with that, so don’t expect everyone to like you. You just do you and the one’s that have a role to play in your life will gravitate towards you for all the right reasons.
One of the best ways to learn to like yourself more is to become aware of yourself as a person. Become aware of how you treat the people in your life, how you react to situations. Are you kind? Are you honest, respectful, generous? Do you set a good example for those around you? These are wonderful traits that you can be proud of, and very very good reasons to like yourself! If you are wanting to learn to love yourself and you don’t like the way you answer the questions above, then there is something inside you that wants to be better, so start there. Be kind, generous and respectful.
This is also a great starting point for those who judge themselves based on their physical appearance. You have so much more to offer than first glance, so don’t devalue your entire, complex being by only seeing the surface. There is so, so much to like (I want to say love!) about you. It may take time to see it if this is unchartered territory, but you deserve the time and effort to uncover the beauty of who you are. You are worthy of love, and when the day comes that you see that you will want to share it with the world!
Thank you for being here. I hope this has helped you change your perspective and shown you that you are capable of making great changes for the better in your life!