Many of you may have heard the words “self-love” thrown around here and there. Different things might come to your mind when you hear these words. You may think, “I’ve got plenty!” or “What is that exactly?” You might even think “Hmmm…I could use some of that, how can I get some?” Regardless of what you might think about it, self-love is an important topic to address.
Self-love is an act of loving ourselves fully and unconditionally. It is an act of accepting ourselves exactly as we are, knowing that we are not perfect, but that we are human. Self-love is being confident in ourselves and our choices. Self-love is knowing that we are worthy of good things and not settling for anything less.
The key word to look at when addressing self-love is the word unconditional. Marriam-Webster defines the word unconditional as: not limited in any way; complete and absolute.
Hmmm...How’s that for something to think about?
Self-love is about loving ourselves in a complete and absolute way with no limits. It is about loving ourselves with no bounds.
This might seem like a no-brainer to many of you. However, the idea of loving yourself without any limits or any bounds may seem like a foreign concept to some of you. This idea gets more foreign if you grew up in a home where love came with conditions: love was only expressed if you were skinny, if you were pretty, if you got good grades, if you did all your chores, if you managed to make the high school sports team, if you got into the best college, etc.
If you grew up in a home where love was conditional, there has likely been a HUGE impact on your self-esteem and your ability to love yourselves and others.
What exactly is self-esteem? Self-esteem, as defined by Marriam-Webster, is: a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities.
If you grew up in a home where the love was conditional, there is a high likelihood that you often struggle with the feeling of respect for yourself and your abilities. You may often question your every action, your every word, your every interaction with others, and if things don’t turn out the way you would like, you might start to think that you must have done something wrong to mess it up. This is a fairly normal response for people who grew up in homes where the love may have been conditional.
These early messages that you got about love and about your ability to be loved are likely causing you some major challenges in your adult life. Many of you may find that you end up in cycles of getting involved with relationships that never turn into anything serious, or that your friends seem to always push you to the side, or that you always feel under scrutiny by your boss, or that your kids don’t seem to appreciate anything that you do for them.
If you feel any of these feelings, fret not! There is a solution. You can learn to love yourself and change the messages you had received as a youngster growing up.
I know that we now live in a digital age and no longer an analog age, but think back to those cassette tapes that you used to listen to your favorite songs on when you were growing up. Now, imagine that rather than your favorite songs, the message on those cassettes was that you are only lovable if x, y or z, or that you are stupid, or that you are undeserving, or that you are ungrateful. And now, imagine putting that tape full of negative messages on repeat. Doesn’t feel so great, right?
The truth is, every time you get into self-doubt and you are not in self-love, you are unconsciously putting that negative tape on repeat. Every time you get yourself into yet another relationship that doesn’t go anywhere, you are unconsciously putting that negative tape on repeat. Every time your friends bail on you yet again, you are unconsciously putting that negative tape on repeat. Basically, any time you are doing something that reinforces the messages on that tape, you are unconsciously putting that tape full of negative messages on repeat.
Thankfully, there are ways to replace those negative messages with positive ones. Just like you could hit the Play and Record buttons simultaneously on radios back in the day to record over the original content on a cassette tape, you can hit the Play and Record buttons on the tape of your life to change the messages you are getting about yourself, erasing all the negative messages and replacing them with positive ones.
1. Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally. It can be hard to love ourselves unconditionally if we do not know how. If we have no example of unconditional love, how can we be expected to learn the behavior for ourselves? That is why the first step is to find a supportive group of people who love you unconditionally. This means really taking a look around you and removing people from your life who only come to you when it’s convenient for them, and replacing them with people who have a mutual respect and appreciation for you. This might mean cleaning out the friend closet, joining a support group or a 12-step recovery program, or expanding your social circle to include people who have more of what you want (eg. People who are successful and put out a positive vibe rather than those who are living status quo and put out a negative vibe).
2. Start engaging in acts of self-love. Now that you have surrounded yourself with people who can model for you what it is like to experience unconditional love, the next step is to start engaging in acts of self-love. Examples of this include:
- standing in front of the mirror daily and saying to yourself OUT LOUD that you love yourself,
- generating a list of all of your positive qualities, starting with at least 5, and saying these to yourself daily,
- writing down the positive things the people around you say about you and adding them to your list of positive qualities that you repeat to yourself daily,
- practicing being kind to yourself,
- treating yourself to a manicure/pedicure or a massage, and
- giving yourself permission to be imperfect. You are a work in progress, you need not be perfect, and you are still loveable regardless.
You will find that just by following the two simple steps listed above, you will over time start to record new messages on your tape: messages that are positive, loving, and help you to grow in love and acceptance of yourself. You will find that you no longer fret after every interaction hoping for a certain desired outcome, you will no longer rely on other people’s opinions to validate yourself, you will feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted off of you. And the cool part about loving yourself unconditionally is that you will start to learn to love others unconditionally as well, which will in turn lead to healthier more peaceful interactions with everyone around you.
If you are ready to learn more about how to love yourself unconditionally, contact us today for your free initial consultation.