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Do You Struggle to Love Yourself?
Posed with a question like this, we imagine it means something like looking in the mirror and not being repulsed by the person who stares back at us! That may sound a bit strong, but for some people, this could well be the case, but, as that person stares back at you, do you ever take the time to actually ask yourself why you struggle to love yourself?
There are many obvious, but many more subtle ways that we may struggle to love ourselves. We may not like our physical appearance for superficial reasons, but, the real reasons are usually buried a bit deeper. Some may just be below the surface, whilst others may be buried deep within our psyche. What’s more, we may not be keen to delve that deep.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you might struggle to love yourself and then consider what can be done to lift that burden slightly.
You Don’t Accept Compliments
When was the last time you received a compliment? How did you react?
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably batted it away, with a throw away comment…
“…oh this? I’ve had it for ages, it’s old!”
“…I could’ve done better if I’d really tried.”
“…it’s nothing. Anyone could do it!”
Do any of these sound familiar?
It’s quite sad isn’t it? Someone goes to the trouble of actually making a positive comment on your work, your hair, your outfit and you reject it!
Unfortunately, the effect is twofold. In the first instance, you’ve played down or brushed off an opportunity to feel good about yourself, to accept that you deserve the compliment, that you are worthy.
What’s more, you’ve rejected their opinion! How insulting must that be for the person who’s ‘put themselves out there’ to notice and compliment you.
I’m sure, of course, that you never intended to ‘insult’ the other person by rejecting their opinion, but in a practical sense, that’s what’s happened.
I realised this many years ago but, like many others, I had to learn to accept compliments. These days I’m much more practiced and usually respond with a smile and a simple “Thank You”.
And that feels much better, both for me and the person who’s been kind enough to notice. Give it a try!
You Don’t Take Time For Yourself
If you struggle to love yourself, then it’s likely that you don’t take enough time to look after yourself with true caring. You probably go through the motions to make an appearance at self-care; turning up for work presentably, but this is more of a societal expectation, rather than an indulgence in your own self care.
What about those times when you don’t need to keep up appearances, do you indulge in a pyjama day, or take yourself out into nature, because it’s good for you, or lose yourself in a weepy film? If you treat these kinds of ‘indulgences’ with contempt, punishing yourself with strong words as if you’ve been lazy rather than taking care of yourself, then you’re missing the point of this ‘wasted time’. John Lennon once said that…
Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time
Do you ever think of your ‘wasted time’ in these terms?
Of course it’s important to make a distinction between truly wasted time, for example, when you’re using distractions to avoid doing the things that you know you should be doing. But, if you need a break because you feel overwhelmed or because you’ve done what you wanted to do for the day, then indulge in your happy activities. Don’t mindlessly surf, actually do something that makes you happy.
Related Post: How To Make Yourself Happy Every Day
You’re Unhappy But You’re Scared to Make Changes
How painful is it to watch somebody who is clearly unhappy, knowing that if you they just made a simple change, all sorts of things could change for the better?
How painful is it to know this about yourself?
We all carry around some unhappiness or discontent. Whether that’s to a greater or lesser extent will often depend on whether you’re willing to make changes when they’re needed. Granted, some things and circumstances are outside our control, but how we respond is within our control, so in most cases, there is an option for change.
Taken to the extreme, your lack of action to initiate the change will result in a struggle to love yourself. Yes, you may feel some compassion for the difficulties you’re facing, but knowing you have enough respect and love for yourself that you are prepared to make some difficult choices or work through some challenges will not only make you happier, but it will also increase your self-esteem and self-love.
Related Post: Getting Out of Your Own Way
You’re Not Living to Your Fullest Potential…And You Know It
Most of us do not live to our fullest potential. Period.
Unfortunately not only does this have an impact on our general circumstances, but, when we know we’re not doing what we feel we were put here to do, it impacts our opinion of ourselves.
How often have you started the day with good intentions, but ended it wondering what you actually achieved? You know you’ve been busy and you’ve quite possibly helped other people out, but what did you do to push your own agenda forward? How many actions did you take in pursuit of your life goals…in becoming the person you know you really are?
It’s so easy to push our goals aside as we deal with the day-to-day, help out with perceived emergencies or just faff around! But, if you end the day feeling deflated and unfulfilled and know that it’s because you did everything to avoid what really matters to you, then you’re not loving yourself.
How would you feel about a friend who constantly let you down? Would you stick around? Thought not.
You Believe the Criticism that Others Level at You
This is a tough nut to crack. When we’re growing up, it’s easy to take on board any criticism that’s levelled at us. We’re young, naive and impressionable.
The trouble is that we often carry this naivety into adulthood, accepting criticism without questioning whether it’s actually warranted.
This has a doubly-negative effect on our ability to love ourselves.
Firstly, the criticism in itself is likely to affect our self-esteem, making us think less of ourselves and our abilities. Secondly, because our self-esteem has taken a blow, we feel disempowered to challenge the criticism. Unfortunately this can become circular where criticism leads to lack of self-love which leads to further criticism.
I have a quote by John Kehoe that sits on my desk which reads:
You begin changing your reality the moment you stop constantly reacting to it.
And that’s the key to dealing with criticism. Don’t react! Mentally step back from the comments and put a wall between you and the words. Take a breath and compose yourself. Now, if you’re feeling calmer, actively question whether the criticism has any merit.
~ Was it deserved?
~ Was it factual?
~ Was it just a sound off from the other person?
~ Was it personal?
If you can confidently identify the comments as ‘constructive’ feedback, then take what you need from the comments and make an improvement. If the criticism is without merit, either politely challenge it or let it go. Anything else just leads to resentment and brooding and can be destructive to yourself.
Related Post: Dealing With Your Inner Critic
Most of us struggle to accept criticism of any kind as it can feel like a body-blow. It feels personal. But learning to identify the ‘good, but negative feedback’ from the just plain criticism is a life skill which can have huge positive benefits for our self-love and self-esteem.
5 Steps to Love Yourself
So if you struggle to love yourself, spend a little time checking in with yourself to see if any of these examples apply to your behaviour. The 5 steps below will help you increase your self-love:
1. Accept a compliment with a smile and a simple ‘Thank You’.
2. When you’re overwhelmed, tired or have just done what you needed to do, do something you love, guilt-free.
3. Explore where a little bit of change in your life could result in a happier you and then put that change into action.
4. What do you want/who do you want to be? Take action every day to bring you closer to that outcome (it doesn’t matter how small that action is).
5. If you’re on the receiving end of criticism, pledge to yourself that you will objectively assess whether it’s appropriate. If it is, work on making an improvement. If it’s not, let it go. Sometimes people just sound off!
I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other examples or tips, please leave a comment!
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