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Self Love: Did You Hug Yourself Today?

by Vidya Sury December 4, 2013 28 comments
vidya sury self love 4

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.

Self Love

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!

Vidya Sury Self Love 2

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!)

self love vidya sury

Thank you Andy Dooley

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!

vidya sury self love

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


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Sid December 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Amen to that Vidya. Another brilliant post. As for the self-love bit, I do now. But it took a really long time. I even wrote a post quite recently explaining how I came over it, on Richa’s blog for the theme “I believe”.

Yet another beautiful motivational post…and I loved it. And yes, I did smile today 🙂 And right now…still smiling!

Cathy Graham December 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Loved this, Vidya and it resonated strongly with me. Self love is something I need to work at daily just like the gratitude and no complaining. I am so hard on myself and often feel not good enough which holds me back from enjoying life. When I can give that ol inner critic the boot, I’m so much happier and joyful. I am good enough despite my flaws and am pretty darn good enough at that!

Corinne Rodrigues December 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm

You already know just how much this resonates with me, Vidya. It’s taken me years of ‘work’ to move to where I am in accepting myself and I know I still have miles to travel on this journey. The blessing? That I’m conscious of this and so will keep working on it!
Thank you for sharing from your heart – as you always do. I’m hoping a lot of people hear this message and start off on their journey of self-love too.
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Rediscovering My Creativity

Kalpana Solsi December 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Vidya, there is no person who at a certain had not loved him/herself.
There was a time when I loved everyone else except myself and strongly hated God or not giving me enough attention. I was in awe of every soul even my maid’s daughter.
But as years added wisdom to me , I shed the bar of self-pity and saw myself in new light. and realized that the persons whom I had idolized were not happy with themselves. Now I do love myself in-spite of all shortcomings.

Chandra Senan December 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

On the subject of self-love, here are two rather germane quotations of Oscar Wilde which have more than a grain of truth in them.

1. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance
2. Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.

Charity does indeed begin at home.

Chandra Senan
Literati publishing,

Proactive Indian December 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Have you always loved yourself? YES

Have you had issues with self love? NEVER.

Was there a moment of truth that made you realize YOU were the priority? NEVER. For me, I was always the priority in a totally selfless way.

I agree with almost everything you’ve said in this post. Of course, I think it’s necessary to clarify: self love is not narcissism.
Proactive Indian recently posted…Three cheers for Sunanda Pushkar!

Sandi Amorim December 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Ahh, dear Vidya, I love when you digress 🙂
There is so much wisdom in this post, and I agree with your conversation with Corinne. We become like a sponge when we do so much of this work, but the problem with that is we don’t always realize what we’ve absorbed. The thinking, logical mind is still spinning those old stories and limiting beliefs. And that’s where the practices you mention are so important. THAT’S how we change things deeply and profoundly, and that’s why your writing is so important.
Sandi Amorim recently posted…Embracing the Woo

Ruchira December 5, 2013 at 1:18 am

Self Love gotta be a delicate sprinkle cause if done in excess can lead to over confidence or just too much of oneself

I am usually quite conscious of this self love attitude cause of the above and tread upon my path on a delicate line cause wanna be grounded all the time..feels good!

Hugs back at ya, vidya!
Ruchira recently posted…Wordless Wednesday #15

Victor December 5, 2013 at 2:55 am


My favorite takeaway from this was the idea that self love is directed to levels of success in life. That really hit me. I can’t help but think if we can help more people realize this there would be many more successful people who can accomplish great things. It starts young. It starts with telling children how much they are loved, how talented they are, and how much value they bring to the lives of others. The self love can take off from there. Nicely done.

David Stevens December 5, 2013 at 2:57 am

Self Love is extremely important Vidya and thankyou for showing it the light. Self Love helps with self esteem for sure in my opinion.You mentioned ‘doubt”.I think a lot of your examples relate to many of us as individuals not wanting to stand out. Many are happy to be “in the crowd” not in front of the crowd. Hopefully appreciating Self Love will convert into Self Expression … don’t be afraid to Express Yourself, through your Art, your words & your actions.

Be good to yourself
David Stevens recently posted…Your Life in full Colour

Suzie Cheel December 5, 2013 at 5:05 am

My story 100% and this spurs me on to finish writing my book, The foundation of which is selflove
Thank you this touched many heart strings. I alos know that it is daily work
Suzie Cheel recently posted…7 Tools To Build Your Gratitude Muscle

Jairam Mohan December 5, 2013 at 6:41 am

This was such a lovely post, and I completely agree with you. While most of us are not lacking in self respect we surely lack in loving ourselves to the fullest possible extent. And as Indians, most of us tend to underplay our achievements primarily because of the Hindu/Indic mindset that we are brought up with where bragging, boasting, are all materialistic and anything that is materialistic is necessarily evil as per our classical mindsets. That being said, the youngsters nowadays are more materialistic and therefore love themselves probably just that little more than they require to.
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Usha Menon December 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

Vidya this is a very thought provoking post. I never thought that that the feeling of self confidence,which was ingrained in me since childhood could be termed as self love. I have achieved whatever I desired in life, love and respect from my family,from relatives, from my colleagues and from friends. This has always been taken by me as gift of God. Till today ( I am now 78)I never had enmity with any one. After reading your post, I now realise that it was love of my self. Thank you Vidya for igniting within myself that I was in love with myself.
Usha Menon recently posted…I’d do things differently

Rahul December 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

Am back after a longish break and it was such a delight to read the post of loving yourself.We often get carried away by the exerior and not the strength of character which comes from the strong roots! I wish I could write as well as you Vidya:)

Roshan R December 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

In some way, I just want to say “preaching to the choir”. I saw myself in that post… not raising my hand even if i knew the answer, not pressing the buzzer.. i’m not entirely there yet but in recent years, I have finally started to accept me for who i am and learn to be happy with myself, flaws and all.
Roshan R recently posted…Write Tribe Festival of Words 2

Obsessivemom December 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm

O my God Vidya.. That post so resonated with me. In fact your conversation at the beginning was just so me. Sometimes when I’m in doubt of my capacities I actually open my blog and read some of the posts and that kind of builds my faith in me. But I still do need validation from others.

Seeta December 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Wonderful wonderful post Vidya… yes, it is so important to love oneself.. but its not easy… most of us have a long way to go to get anywhere where you are right now.. Kudos to that!
Seeta recently posted…Memories In A Bottle

Carolyn Hughes December 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm

What a wonderful reminder to give ourselves some self-love. It took me many years to appreciate the importance of learning to love myself. But the more I care for myself, the more I can love and care for others.
Your posts are always such a bright spot in my day Vidya 🙂
Carolyn Hughes recently posted…Joyful living.

Kathy December 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

It seems crazy that a person who gives so much love to others struggles everyday to give herself the same love. It is my reality. A never ending learning process and struggle but one well worth the effort. ♥
Kathy recently posted…Conditions Apply

Rekha December 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

That was another beautiful piece! Honestly, I believe it’s the way we are brought up that has a lot to do with our attitude towards ourselves. As you mentioned, I am also brought up in an environment where answering to elders is considered as answering back or disrespecting them. To lead a life full of contentment I feel self-love is necessary. I’m slowly learning to love myself without hurting anyone else in the process. Sacrificing your interests, keeping quiet to avoid arguments, are all lessons that our elders taught us. Unfortunately, when we get out of the house all these qualities are considered as minus points because we are unable to put across our points for fear of being judged.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post with us! Loved it. 🙂 Every visit to your page makes me smile by default now. 🙂 And just wanted to let you know that my Happiness Jar is slowly getting filled. 🙂
Rekha recently posted…English-Vinglish

Pixie December 5, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Self-Love and Self-Esteem are so important no?
I learnt over the years that I was good and smart.
I started to appreciate myself more thru college.
I had a tough time in school for the same reasons you have mentioned.

Pride in myself and self-love are so important to live a life of happiness, contentment and a life of dignity.

Thank you for this post Vidya! 🙂
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Terri Sonoda December 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Excellent post! I have suffered for many years with feeling of inadequacy and not deserving of the good things that come my way. It’s a tough thing to get over, and I struggled with it every day. Thank you for helping me understand a few more reasons why I need to believe in myself. XOXOs
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Fran Sorin December 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Vidya –

I’ve been thinking a lot about self love and acceptance this week.

It is so easy to laugh it off and say ‘oh yeh, I do love myself.’ The truth is – as you said – it’s not easy.

I am still amazed at all of the times I spectate myself as the individual with ‘less than’ or with thoughts of ‘could have done better’ or any number of less than loving thoughts.

The truth is that I don’t feel bad about these negative perceptions of myself. Rather, I see them as an opportunity for deeper questioning, growth, reflection, and humility.

As always Vidya – a heartwarming and thoughtful post. xxoo-Fran
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Meghanath Bellamkonda December 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

Truly touched by your words. Few mentions about self-doubt on your blog post resembles my School & college days.


Shilpa Garg December 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Loved this post. I guess, we are own biggest critics. Before anybody else says anything we are quick to put ourselves down. I have done all that you mentioned in the beginning of the post. I guess it’s time that we accept all the great things about ourselves! 🙂
Shilpa Garg recently posted…The Hidden Treasure

richmiraclefiles December 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi Vidya,
There’s a sound lesson to be learnt by all of us here, about slef love.Perhaps one of the longest lessons we need to teach our kids should be about self love.
And we must sit in the class(if ever there were one)alongside our kids and learn self love ourself.
Because we are usually good at self flagellation a bit too much.
I love that phrase of yours “i am enough”.Beautiful!
richmiraclefiles recently posted…12 Interesting Secrets of Bouncing Back

Raisefrequency May 16, 2017 at 1:10 am

I resonate very much with this post. In the segment about self-doubt when you describe your school and career experiences, you also describing the way I held back myself for lack of self-esteem and self-love. I have made progress in the area of self-love and I am still working on releasing all self-judgment.
I love Buddha quote that you posted about loving ourselves

My Happiness Checklist #InternationalDayofHappiness | Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles July 10, 2018 at 4:47 pm

[…] all starts with self-love and self-care, you know. When we take good care of ourselves, we are happier and in a better […]


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