I have a confession to make: I am 33 years old, and I have never been truly comfortable with myself. From the outside looking in, I’m sure I appear as carefree and confident as the rest of the world. On the inside, however, is a totally different story. Most days I would rather crawl inside of my shell and hide from the world (and myself!). The not so little voice inside my head is a constant nag, telling me I’m just not good enough. Not a good enough mom, wife, house keeper, friend, person… you name it, I’ve thought it. If you have ever felt this way, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Your mind can play cruel tricks on you. No matter how hard you work at something, you may always be left wondering “am I good enough???” Let me tell you: YOU ARE. Shut that voice down! Now I am certainly no expert; learning to love myself is a CONSTANT struggle for me and I have definitely not mastered it. So I will be following along with my advice with all of you!
LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF
Quit Comparing Yourself
You are YOU. No one else. It makes no difference what your next door neighbor, mom at the PTO meeting, person next to you on the treadmill, your high school alumni or anyone else is doing. You DO you! Comparing ourselves to others is the #1 culprit of self sabotage. (trust me, I’ve been there, done that!)
This is a hard one. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of seeing everyone’s perfect lives play out on Facebook day after day. Working alongside your co-workers who seem to have it all together. Rolling into the school drop off line ten minutes late still in your pajamas, watching the ‘cool’ moms pow-wow with their perfectly polished hair and makeup. I have a secret to share with you: they struggle too. You are not the only one! Do not let the façade of perfection fool you!
You are you. Comparing yourself to others simply does no good for anyone. I am 100% confident that you have something to offer that no one else that you envy has. You will never be ‘just like’ everyone else, and you weren’t meant to be. I know that this can be a harsh realization. But it doesn’t mean someone is ‘better’ than you; simply ‘different.’
We are all created unique in our own way. You cannot compare apples to oranges, just like you cannot compare yourself to others. Focus on you and your individual accomplishments; the progress you’ve made, the successes you’ve had, and what you have to offer to yourself and the rest of the world. Let the rest of the world worry about themselves!
Leave the Past in the Past
The past; we all have one, most that we would rather forget. In life, you live and you learn. We all make mistakes, poor decisions, and have things we would do differently if given another chance. DO NOT let these moments define you! Take these moments and use them as motivation to move forward and better yourself.
Rather than letting your past define you, use it as an opportunity to redefine yourself based on how you learn from your mistakes. How have you moved forward? How have you learned to approach life differently? THIS is the defining moment in your life. It is impossible to love yourself if you are constantly beating yourself up over your past. So look back on it, learn from it, and then erase it from your memory.
Make a Conscious Effort to Better Yourself
A key part of learning to love yourself when you are struggling is to actually make a change. You will NEVER change how you look at yourself if you don’t actually do anything to make a change, whether it be physically or mentally. This is where I need to get real with you; this is on you. No one will make the changes for you. No one will take action for you to change your own life. You need to be the change that you want to see in yourself. By all means, find a support system along the way. I have a great support system in my fitness world, but ultimately the journey belongs to me. Own it.
Set a vision for yourself. What does a life that you love look like? What steps do you need to take to achieve these goals? Write it down! Personally, I need something tangible. There are many planners, organizers, journals and more out there with plenty of great features depending on what you are looking for. Start Where You Are is a great interactive journal that rolls much of this into one. If you are struggling with where to begin, I highly recommend that you check out my article, Spring Into a New You, for motivation and guidance.
Know Your Value
Know your value. You absolutely deserve all of the best that this life has to offer. No one is ‘more deserving’ than you! Don’t settle for anything less than this. Don’t lower your standards or ‘settle’ just because that voice in your head tells you that you’re not good enough. You can and will achieve and attain anything you set your mind to. Do not minimize the power of positive thinking!
When you begin to settle for less than you deserve, your life will begin to crumble in all around you. You will begin to brainwash yourself that this life you are in and this mindset that you have is all the more you deserve or will ever achieve. This is just another form of self-sabotage. By settling for less, you are ACCEPTING less. Similarly, you may allow others to treat you with less respect than you truly deserve, simply by undervaluing yourself. Which brings me to my next point…
Cut Out the Negativity
We all have it. Dead weight that pulls us down. It could be a bad habit, bad living or work environment, or most commonly (and unfortunately) a person; usually someone closest to you. You absolutely cannot and will not move forward and learn to love yourself if you are constantly dealing with negativity, whether it’s directed towards you or otherwise. Our thoughts define us, and if you are working on a positive lifestyle and learning to love yourself, the last thing you need is negativity clouding your judgement.
Remove yourself from the situation. This will be hard and may seem counter productive at first, but in the long run you will thank yourself. Negativity breeds negativity. And misery loves company. If you know that there is someone or something affecting your life in a negative manner, you just need to cut the cord.
Accept Yourself, Flaws and All
This. Is. Tough. I struggle with this every single day. The final and most important step in learning to love yourself is to accept yourself. Think about it, everyone has flaws. And yet we learn to love everyone accept the most important person in our life; ourselves. I’m sure your spouse or partner isn’t perfect. I’m sure your kids have some quirks and your closest friends drive you bonkers from time to time. And yet you love them anyhow.
Personally, I can list about 10,000 things that I think are wrong with myself. My husband notices a few, my son probably none. Try to see yourself through everyone else’s eyes. As I mentioned before, you were created 100% unique, flaws and all. Embrace yourself. No one is meant to be perfect; it is an impossible standard to live up to.
Rather than focusing on the negative, turn it into a positive. For example, I am a super slow runner. Seriously, I hate it and it drives me nuts. I work my butt off and am still crawling to the finish line. I used to hate myself for it. Instead, I’ve changed my mindset and instead of hating how slow I was, I have learned to celebrate what I CAN do. I can run a half marathon. Slow. But I can do it. I question my parenting. Every. Single. Day. Instead of beating myself up, telling myself I’m a bad parent because I don’t know 100% what to do in every situation, I celebrate the things I have accomplished every time I look at my son and see the person he is becoming.
It is a slow process. But every time a negative thought pops into my head, I try to turn it around into something positive. I used to joke with my husband, “every time you say 1 bad thing about someone or something, you need to say 5 nice things!” It sounds silly, but try this with yourself! Embrace your flaws and you will be amazed at the negatives that you can turn into positives!
Spread the Love
A smile is contagious. Love, even more so. Nothing can help lift someone’s spirit who is struggling more so than a kind word, some encouragement and love. The best way you can pay your love for yourself forward is to recognize the good in others. You never know who is struggling. Personally, I put a smile on my face every day and I’m sure most people would have no idea how I really feel deep down. I KNOW that I am not the only one.
I challenge you all. First, to love yourself. Second, to spread the love. Call up an old friend. Send a letter in the mail. Text some words of encouragement. Share a few Facebook comments. Find a few people to spread the love to today. There are even these awesome little Kindness Cards that you can just leave in random places for people to find!
What steps will you take in learning to love yourself today??? I would love to hear about any other ideas that work for you, too! And remember: you are awesome, unique and perfectly YOU… time to love yourself and show the world how amazing you are!!!