Do you know how to love yourself? Deep down, where no one else can see, do you love you?
How do you talk to your inner self?
When you’re all alone, do you respect the person that you are? Do you treat yourself with kindness, gentleness, and positivity?
Do you exhibit as much compassion and dignity as you would to a stranger on the street, a server in a restaurant, or a small child?
Rather, like so many, do you disparage yourself and constantly reinforce negative self-talk? “I can’t do it. I’m not smart enough. I was stupid to think I could.”
What do you expect from your body?
Do you demand perfection that shows no signs of aging, childbearing, trauma, or illness?
Do you pick apart your flaws and treat yourself as if you are less than simply because your skin breaks out, you discovered gray hairs, or you carry more weight than is popular?
Do you complain (even if it is mental) about the shape of you, the texture of you, the color of you, or other physical traits? “I’m fat. I’m old. My hair is awful. Why even bother?”
Are you living – in the ways that truly matter – to your potential?
Are you planning to be happy, to do the things you love, to live the life you think about having “someday?” Are you putting yourself in second place…even last place?
Do you make excuses about why you can’t be happy now, can’t go back to school now, or can’t leave a negative job or relationship now? “I have responsibilities, one day it will be my turn. I can’t be selfish. I’ve invested so much time in this (or him or her) so I might as well keep going.”
Stop Being Mean to YOU!
All my life, I’ve tried to be positive.
I’m positive about other people’s potential, their future, and their bodies. No matter how awful a server in a restaurant, a cashier, a plumber, a nurse, or a teacher might be, I convince myself that he/she is having a horrible day. “Perhaps something awful happened and they had to come to work anyway…”
Is that naïve? Possibly but I find that it makes my reactions to others less confrontational. I feel better because, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I believe that and I conduct myself accordingly.
That makes it so strange that I give no quarter to myself. I allow no wiggle room for perceived failures, physical imperfections, or falling short of my own potential.
I am constantly mean to me…and I imagine that you’re mean to you, too.
You strive for this fuzzy level of perfection (that is ever changing) that you can’t see clearly but somehow know it exists because you heard about it, saw a video on it, or someone you used to know attained it. For whatever reason, you never get there (that imaginary perfect place) yet you keep right on trying.
You whip yourself to work harder to make progress to the Land of Perfection and you read all the crap in the media that labels you “unworthy” if you stop striving for even a moment.
Before you know it, you’re obsessing over calories and window-shopping online for things you don’t need and maybe can’t afford.
Years, even decades, pass this way and you spend a fortune on temporary fixes – a new job, a new relationship, nails, hair color, clothes, and the never-ending chase for smooth, hairless skin – that gives you zero satisfaction because you’re avoiding the actual problem.
You don’t love yourself as much as you should.
Perfection is a myth and you need to give yourself permission to stop chasing it. Life is not perfect and you are not perfect…but that’s okay. It’s okay to fall down as long as you get back up, dust yourself off, and start again.
You matter, your happiness matters, your choices matter, and if you don’t make YOU a priority, who else is going to do so? The answer is “no one.” There isn’t anyone in your life that can treat yourself as well (or as badly) as you can.
Right now, this moment, I’d like you to make a list of your five best attributes. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical, mental, emotional, sexual, or professional…list the five best. Then, I’d like you to dig deep and list five more. They’re right there, I guarantee it.
5 Love Yourself Affirmations You Need to Practice Daily
You are not a failure.
Even if you have “failed” at a relationship, a job, or a goal, that doesn’t make you a failure. Mistakes happen, life happens, and no one has 20/20 vision until a situation has come and gone.
Look at those negative situations in your life right now and evaluate what went wrong and what went right.
Write it down because that gives words power and they stick with you. How do you stop it from happening again? What did you learn from the experience?
Once you have truly examined the circumstances of a specific time in your life, let it go. Really, finally, completely let it go.
If there is more than one, repeat the process and close those circles of negativity! Events that are unresolved or missing “closure” tend to haunt you. Your mind (conscious and subconscious) replays it on loop. It brings you down, it colors your present, and it makes you fearful for your future.
A time in your life that hurt you, caused you pain, or left you emotionally reeling took all the energy and sadness from you that you’re going to give it…let it go. Move on to the next adventure with optimism in your heart and bravery in your spirit.
You are not a freak.
The strict boundaries created by some cultures, schools, religions, families, or even regions of the world may not be the right boundaries for you. If something doesn’t fit well in your life, as the person you are, then you should go out and search for the existence that does.
Your beliefs, your sexual orientation, your passions, your dreams, and your body are all worthy of respect.
That isn’t to imply that everyone should/will agree with you nor does it mean you’re necessarily right. It does mean that if you walk through the world as the person you are when no one is looking, you are going to feel more fulfilled and “at home” in your own skin.
You are not ugly.
Throughout history, representations of “beauty” and “attractiveness” have changed drastically. Your looks, your outer appearance, should have nothing to do with how others perceive you or with how you perceive yourself.
We both know those perceptions happen, right or wrong. Therefore, it’s important that you recognize the body you live inside and remind yourself of all the reasons you are grateful to have it.
My grandma used to say, “Beauty is only skin deep” and I always thought it was a silly saying that made excuses for me being chubby and freckled.
As a grown woman, I realize the saying has endured for a reason. Beauty is fleeting. All of us will age.
Many of us will deal with the ravages of childbirth, traumatic accidents, illness, and physical disfigurements from birth or circumstance…but no matter what, we will grow old (hopefully).
There are things you can change and things that you can’t, no matter how hard you try. It is the reason for the trying that’s important. What are you seeking?
My friend is naturally stunning. She’s one of those women who bask in her femininity simply because she can. She always looks well “turned out” with her hair, makeup, clothing, and so on. She carries herself like a lady and over the years, the way she looks so put together has awed me. This is a person who gets out of bed looking fabulous.
I wasn’t born with those genes.
A few years ago, I realized that there are some things I’ve always done for myself and there are other things I did to “fit in” or (so much worse) impress a man in my life.
For my body type, and myself I hate sexy clothing, I hate shorts, and I think lingerie is ridiculous. I suck at applying makeup and refuse to do so unless I’m under duress. 99% of the time, I wear my hair in a messy bun. When asked why I don’t just cut it short, my reply is, “Then I’d have to brush it.” I wear clothes that are comfortable, easy to move in, and soft. That makes them look frumpy and unflattering most of the time.
I am overweight as are so many women and while I’m working on better health so I have many more years to do what I love, I will never again have a nervous breakdown (complete with tears) in a store because I can’t fit in a smaller size.
I will never wear clothing that pinches, squeezes, or in any way causes me physical discomfort. I no longer stand in the mirror and critique my stretch marks from labor, my scars from a rough childhood, my paleness, or the lines that prove I’ve spent a lot of my life laughing despite bad situations.
I accept my flaws and I love my body. I woke up this morning and my heart was still beating. My brain was still thinking incredible thoughts. My hands enabled me to type this article. The flavor of my coffee was magnificent. I am grateful for a body that lives and supports me as best it can. That is true beauty…and you are in possession of it right now.
You are not unworthy.
I have known so many people who settle for what they don’t want because they’re afraid it is the best they’re going to do.
There is nothing more devastating and soul sucking than settling in any area.
Settling robs you of possibilities and opportunities that might lie ahead, that could depend on you being at the right place at the right time.
The act of settling invites the wrong people to take up residence in your daily life. No matter what position a person holds in your world, what “label” is attached to them, no one has the right to treat you with a lack of kindness, respect, or common courtesy that society expects us to extend to strangers…but not to those close to us.
A person who finds you “unworthy” doesn’t care about hurting your feelings (they didn’t mean it personally), doesn’t encourage you to grow (I probably couldn’t have done it anyway), and doesn’t follow the same set of rules that you’re expected to follow (it’s my mother, husband, boss…so I can’t do anything about it).
The negative emotion that lies at the core of every bad relationship – personally, romantically, or professionally – is a lack of empathy. The inability to place oneself in another’s shoes, to view the situation from their angle, and gather understanding about it from another perspective.
Most people are too busy telling you why they’re right, why you have to listen to them, and attempting to make you feel as if you’re a child rather than a grown adult with dreams, ideas, and opinions of your own.
Learning how to love yourself begins with understanding what you can no longer allow to linger in your life.
Stop allowing the outbursts, tantrums, passive-aggression, and expectations of others as if you are powerless. Focus on the people closest to you and know that you’re worthy of being treated with kindness, respect, and love as the individual that you are right now.
The moment you allow anyone to treat you poorly, you give them power over so much more than you realize. Take back the power of who you are by recognizing your own worth.
You are not alone.
It can feel like you are, but you are not alone. In the world right now, there are thousands of people – maybe millions – who struggle to find self-worth and self-fulfillment. Those who are experiencing the same exact struggles as you face. They try to balance their wants and needs against (often-unrealistic) expectations of family, spouses, children, friends, jobs, their faith, and society at large.
As if there is a template for every man and woman that is auto-filled with the days and the years of our lives. College…check. Marriage…check. Babies…check. Church…check. Job…check.
Such a template isn’t the right fit for everyone and that some “ideal” exists that we’re meant to strive for negates the very traits that make you unique.
You’re different from everyone else and that is a wonderful thing.
Today, I’d like you to focus on a goal that will change YOUR life. Think realistically about your life today. Who you are and where you are at this moment in time. Whether you’re 20, 40, or 80…every moment counts.
Is there something that you’d like to change about your life, your circumstances, or yourself that could be attainable with hard work and minimal help from others?
Why do I tell you to meet your goal alone? Why not ask for help? I believe that 75% of every dream should rest on the shoulders of the dreamer.
As a dreamer myself, I can get lost in the “little things” and have to train myself to pull back and take in the big picture. If your dream rests with you, ultimately, you either want it bad enough to work for it or you let it go.
Dependency on anyone else leaves you a scapegoat and in this new life of defining what you want, making a plan to get it, and then busting your behind until you make it happen…there are no scapegoats.
Breathe, Define, Plan, Work
Learning how to love yourself is not going to happen overnight. You aren’t perfect, the people around you aren’t perfect, life isn’t perfect…and bad habits take time to kick.
Even the habit of being mean to yourself.
Take this as a fresh start, a new day, the first day of loving you, accepting you, and going after the life (whatever it may be) that fits you best. Make no excuses, take no prisoners, and you’ll never regret it.
Love yourself first. Show others how to do it right.
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.