So you want to love yourself, or do you? Perhaps for you the idea of loving yourself is an act of extreme selfishness or being cocky. To the point where you think of it in a negative sense because of phrases like, ‘Look at her, she thinks she’s all that. She really loves herself’ or, ‘He’s right up his own a**e’. You find it easier to show acts of love and kindness to others. You misunderstand what loving yourself truly means and the intention behind it.
Learning to Love Your Identity
What does it really mean to love yourself? I believe it’s linked to identity, how you value yourself; your gifts, skills, passions, values etc. Your understanding of your potential and the unique contribution only you can make. It’s about saying I’m good enough, so I’m worthy to be loved, I’m worthy to succeed and I AM worth taking care of. Besides guarding yourself against the things other people say about you. It’s equally, if not more important, to be aware of those negative thoughts in your mind that tell you you’re not worthy.
I know for many that’s easier said than done, especially when your identity and self-belief have gradually been eroded over time. Life experiences can do that, those unhealthy relationships, the people who didn’t believe in you and made sure you knew about it. What about the redundancy that made you question your abilities or the affair that rocked your sense of self-worth. Add to that a society that expects you to behave according to labels determined by age, gender, financial status, sexuality etc. The odds of truly being yourself seem stacked against you.
Listen for the Lies
Part of the issue is identifying the lies. None of us are immune to those negative thoughts about ourselves, actions or specific situations. You know the ones I mean
‘You’ve never been a good parent, if you had your kids wouldn’t have gone off the rails like they did’
‘You’re too old to start a new career. Everyone knows that people over 50 are on the scrap heap’
I could go on, but there’s no need, you’ll have ones of your own.
I completed a Power of Purpose course recently and had to face some of the thoughts that were holding me back. I was aware of them, but hadn’t paid them much attention. Being unaware of the impact they were having on my actions, or rather in actions. Regardless of your situation, or how confident you are, they’re there. However, one of the phrases I always remember from the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course was ‘Thoughts aren’t feelings, feelings aren’t facts’.
Our minds generally work in a way that magnifies the negative thoughts and beliefs. Because that’s exactly what they are – thoughts and beliefs. You don’t have to accept or claim them as factual truths about yourself. You have a choice.
Be encouraged. Firstly you’re not alone and secondly there are plenty of approaches, tools, courses, books and videos to help you ‘listen for the lies’. Noticing is a good first step and I would encourage you to simply start paying attention to your thoughts. What are they saying about and to you? Is it helpful, is it even true?
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