Loving yourself isn’t something we often think about, but it’s something most of us struggle with and that’s okay. I’ve learned that the journey to self-love is a continuous one with no apparent ending. I take things day by day as they come at me and I’m okay with that. Because I know this is something we, probably, all struggle with at times, I thought it would be good to share some of the ways I’ve struggled and things I try to do/remember every day to help bring a little more love and peace into my life. I hope that, wherever you are, this helps you out if you’re struggling for love and acceptance.
My Personal Struggles with Self-Love
I was always a people-pleaser growing up. Everyone was more important than me, their needs far outweighing my own. Of course, they were someone who mattered; their needs should be put first. I can wait. I didn’t realize that I was indirectly telling myself that my needs were less important so, therefore; they became less important. Growing up in a divorced family, I struggled with self-love from a young age. My parents, however loving, were incredibly busy workaholics. They worked long work hours and had their own agenda. My father was barely present and is even less so these days. I’m sure, in their own way, they love me, but as a child, I certainly felt I didn’t matter. This translated into adulthood and left me with a number of pressing problems. I consistently put others’ needs before my own and because of it, I suffered. I’m not saying you shouldn’t help others, but you should help yourself so that you CAN help others. Don’t forget yourself in the shuffle. Because I left my own life in the dust, I felt the repercussions hard. I gained weight. I felt depressed. I had nothing going for myself. All of a sudden, I was miserably unhappy and yet, I still blamed myself for it all. Since then, I’ve struggled each day to love myself and forge a new path in which I’m also important. I tell myself I matter, I’m worthy of love and affection, and that I deserve attention. Because I do. You do too. I’d be lying if I said I was “cured” of my insecurities or that I never feel the crushing sense of anxiety that comes along every now and again, but now I realize that this too shall pass. I take time for the things I love. I put myself first when I need and want to. And I still help others as well. They are not mutually exclusive, but can work together. Here are a few of the ways I’ve found work best for me in learning to love, accept, and be happy with myself.
How to Love Yourself A Little More Each Day
- Accept Yourself. This is a big one, but it’s hard to do. I have to be honest with you; it’s not my forte. I can accept others for who they are, but I struggle with accepting myself. I’ve found that the best way to do it is to just do it. I’ve stopped looking for reasons why I deserve it. I deserve it because I am human like everyone else. We all deserve acceptance, whoever we are, and it’s important to tell ourselves so. Sometimes, telling yourself something enough will convince you to believe it. Fake it til you make it, if you must.
- Forgive Yourself (and others). Another big one is forgiving yourself. It seems so simple, but I find forgiving others to be much easier than forgiving myself. Because I’ve been a perfectionist and have had parents who demand perfection, I feel like anything less than would be considered failure. That’s ridiculous, of course; I’m only human, but it’s a thought I have nonetheless. In order to forgive myself, I’ve found it’s easiest to tell myself that I am worthy and deserving of forgiveness. Nothing I’ve done is so bad as to not deserve it and I alone can give myself the freedom, love and forgiveness I need to move on.
- Let Go of the Past. We are all made up of our experiences, but as I’ve said before, the past is just a story we tell ourselves. We don’t have to keep telling ourselves that story. For years, I told everyone I met of my troubled past. My parents divorced. My family life was difficult at best. It took me years to realize that I wore this past of mine like armor even though it was actually doing more harm than good. Is your past painful like mine is? If so, I tell you this: at any point in time, you can stop telling yourself that horrible story. It does not have to define or destroy you. We can and deserve to tell ourselves a new and better story, to build a better future. I’m not saying you should forget your past or act as though it never happened, but I do think we can all stop letting it define who we are. We can stop saying “I am this way because this happened to me” and instead say, “I choose to be this because I want to.” We are the inventors of our lives. We can make it whatever we choose.
- Love Yourself. I am being a little repetitive, but that’s how important it is. It’s so important for you to know how worthy and deserving of love you are. You deserve to take up as much space as you want. You deserve love and affection and are worthy of it! Who else can love you as much or as well as you can? Take time out to do the things you love, to build the person you want to be, and live the life you’ve dreamed of. It might take time, you might fail a few times before getting it right, but you are worth taking the time to succeed.
- Let Others Love You. This has been one of the hardest obstacles for me to overcome. For years, I honestly thought no one could love me. It didn’t matter that I was kind, intelligent, generous, brave, or any of the other wonderful qualities about me. Significant others would tell me that they loved me, but I would never believe them. In time, I realized how ridiculous this truly was. It’s so important to love yourself, but it’s also important to let others love you. Let other people do things for you. Let them compliment you and thank them. Let people tell you you’re beautiful and believe it because it’s true. Let people in. You do yourself no favors by shutting the world out.
I hope this hasn’t been too cheesy; my sarcastic mind is telling me it’s ridiculous and dumb and that no one will take my post seriously, but I hope you do. You are as worthy and deserving of love as any other human being on this planet. You are unique and one of a kind; there is no one like you on this earth, but you. It might sound corny, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I hope this has helped you in some way or another to love yourself and others a little more!