I started writing this post, almost scrapped it half way because I thought I was digressing a lot – and then, figured it was okay to think aloud over here. Also, I would love to hear your views about the subject, self love.
Recently, I was chatting with my friend. I asked her…wait…let me copy paste an excerpt:
Me: Hey.. one funny thing. Have you ever looked at something you wrote – and wondered how you came up with it? I mean..as in – rather impressed you wrote it?
She: I must confess – a couple of times. why?
Me: Simply. I feel that way and feel sheepish. Sometimes I can’t believe I can write that stuff. Dunno where the words come from
She: 🙂 I was feeling foolish to answer too
Me: Hugs. no need. if we don’t appreciate us, who will?
She: I think we read and absorb so much more than we realize
Me: We have such a problem with that mirror, no?
She: Yes – after all the ‘work’ on ourselves
and so on.
Have you ever felt that? Looking at something you did and feeling happily surprised you’re capable of what you did? Perhaps you had doubts before you attempted it, but picked up courage as you went along.
The conversation made me think of all the ways we DON’T appreciate ourselves. Why the hesitation to love ourselves?
I remember so many instances when I hesitated to speak up, yet in my heart I knew I had the answer.
Why the self-doubt?
- At school, when the teacher asked a question and I knew the answer, I’d hesitate to answer. Then someone else would answer and I’d mentally bash myself up for not speaking up
- At college, I missed a major prize for hesitating to hit the buzzer on time. Our team won, though.
- At home, I’d hesitate to defend myself when I was scolded for something. Partially this was because I grew up being told that talking back to our elders wasn’t done – and somewhere along the way, it meant not answering at all! How stupid that feels now. Glad I got over that!
- When I began my career, I’d receive a lot of praise for the way I handled things, but I would be self-deprecating and shrug it off. In my mind, I was only doing something I was supposed to be doing and giving a little extra was my style. Surely not the best path to progress?
Now – I am not sure why I held back from feeling good about myself – it certainly wasn’t a lack of self-confidence. Perhaps it was the environment I grew up in, where praise was limited and when given, was taken with a few pinches of salt.
How stupid it feels to think of that time now!
Of course, over the years, as I gained experience, I knew that our level of self-esteem and therefore self love shows up in every area of our lives – our relationships, both at home and at the workplace and wherever else we hang around.
So why is self esteem / self love so important?
It decides our level of success or failure – besides the kind of effort we’re likely to put to achieving our life goals. Our personal self-esteem level decides how far we’ll go. I find that when I think I can, my effort is proportionate to the state of my mind.
Have you noticed that how you feel about yourself influences your actions, your responses to people, how people treat you and hey, the kind of people you attract into your life?
For school children, self love issues open them up to bullying and that can have far reaching consequences well into their adult lives. That’s not a nice thing at all!
So, can we actually learn to love ourselves and “achieve” higher self esteem?
We can – what a relief!
Self love is not always easy!
Our experiences shape our perceptions and if we’re low on self love, it is likely there are events in the past that caused them. I remember going through feelings of low self worth because of a few rather minor incidents – at least I know they were minor now, but not at the time.
I was in high school. We regularly went to a movie theater near our place and always bought the low priced tickets because we couldn’t afford the expensive ones. During one of those visits, I happened to spot a classmate sitting with her family in the balcony. She saw me too and I felt so embarrassed. I felt small. She literally looked down at me in a superior way. My uncle laughed and said it didn’t matter where we sat, we were all watching the same movie and that I shouldn’t let these things bother me. Easier said! I remember, the next day, at school, this classmate told everyone about the previous evening, rather snootily.
Then, there was the school uniform – my Mom stitched my clothes because tailor’s charges were expensive. Also, I wore the same tunics for more than two years – they were in good condition and there was no significant change in the size. But there was always this clique of girls who looked down upon girls like me, you know? Even the fact that I topped the class in academics didn’t help me think I was okay. My Mom’s constant encouragement helped, but when I was back in school, the “not good enough” feelings came back.
I guess I let them fade as time went by, but every once in a while, some stray comment would take me right back to that old place. In fact, it wasn’t just the school thing. Because of our rather
weird unique family situation, there were relatives who reveled in trying to make my Mom and I feel worthless. So what did I do?
I faced the feelings.
I came to terms with them.
I let go of them.
I moved on.
It wasn’t easy.
But I had people in my life who made me feel good, appreciated me. I focused on them.
I focused on my achievements, the things I was good at.
I just bloomed where I was planted.
“Don’t let your past hold you hostage and come in the way of a bright future”
In fact, that’s when I took my Mom’s advice seriously. For every time I felt bad, I’d think about two good things about myself. (there’s a post there, I swear!)
And here’s what I learned about self love
- It is okay to blow my trumpet. I still have difficulties with that – but it doesn’t bother me any more. If I don’t, how will people read my mind and know what I am capable of? Along the way, I began to believe that nothing is impossible. Or to put it another way, everything is possible.
- We needn’t hide or underplay our abilities, our strengths. Ever noticed how easy it is to list our shortcomings, but when it comes to listing our strengths, we take longer? Truth! Try it now. If you succeeded in listing your accomplishments, congratulations!
- I must move away from toxic people in my life – and that included family. I didn’t have to walk away from them, but surely I could put some distance between me and them and do away with the daily dose of de-motivation. (that sort of has a nice ring to it, no?). I was 24 before I finally had the courage to seek a transfer at work and move to a different city with my Mom. I realized I had aspirations and goals and wanted to achieve them. There was no way I could go after any dream of mine if I had these people supporting me. I also learned I only had to share information on a need-to-know basis.
- I must love myself first. Oh, this one is really hard. Even now, I have a tough time with it. Unless we love ourselves, imperfections and all, accept ourselves for who we are, there is no peace.
- I do not need someone else’s approval to follow my dreams. I am worthy of success. I deserve it
- I must forgive myself – if I don’t, who will?
- I must not let myself be bullied into saying yes when I don’t want to do something.
- I must respect myself.
- I must look after myself – that includes mental health, emotional health and physical health.
- I must walk away from toxic relationships
- I must not complain.
- I am enough. More than enough!
- Self love is not selfish.
I now regularly write a gratitude journal and it is so liberating!
I smile at my reflection first thing in the morning.
Now, I ask you:
Have you always loved yourself?
Have you had issues with self love?
Was there a moment of truth that made you realize YOU were the priority?
Please share your story!
And don’t forget to hug yourself first thing in the morning – and as many times as you want through the day!
And to borrow my dear friend and Mid Life Coach David’s wonderful sign off: Be good to yourself!
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” Buddha