Last week I talked about self-love and invited you to take time each day to profess love and acceptance of yourself by writing or saying the following affirmation: “I love and accept myself exactly as I am.” Did you try it? How did that go for you? Please feel free to share your experience with me in the comments space below or you can send me a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’d love to hear how it went for you.
As for me, today is day eleven and so far I’ve written my affirmation nine of the eleven days. We were travelling, so I got off track on Friday and Saturday. I mentioned on Facebook last week that I found myself remembering the affirmation throughout the day. That little reminder helped me take stressful situations with more ease. A few times when I didn’t remember, the affirmation would slip into my mind and bring me back to peace and calm (like when I was driving). 😊
This week I want to talk about why self-love matters. As I said last time, many of us rarely give any thought to how we REALLY feel about ourselves. Deep down, I think most of us know but we aren’t brave enough or willing to admit that we don’t have love for ourselves. Let’s begin with identifying how we can tell if we’re struggling with loving ourselves.
How to determine if you love yourself
Perhaps like me, you’ve found yourself being super critical of yourself. That’s a pretty good indication that you may be struggling with self-love. Think about the words you use in your head, or maybe you even say them out loud. Things like: “If I had half a brain” or “I’m such a dimwit” or “Oh my gosh! Look at that stomach, those wrinkles, this hair!"... (you get the picture) All these kinds of phrases are an indication of our relationship with ourselves. Then there are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves such as: “I’m always late” or “I’m terrible with money” or “I have no self-control.” When we say things like this to ourselves or about ourselves, we are sending a message to our brain. That message is “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy of love” or perhaps even “I don’t love myself.”
Another way you can tell if you are struggling with self-love is that you are constantly putting the needs of other people ahead of your own needs. Maybe you drop everything the moment one of your kids has a “last minute project” that’s due tomorrow. Or perhaps someone fails to show up for work and you feel obligated fill in for them. Maybe you say “yes” when you really want to say NO to a party or dinner invitation. Think about how often you do things that you really don’t want to because you feel obligated to do so. If that happens frequently, then it may be an indicator that you don’t value yourself as much as you do others.
Are you a “people pleaser”? If you answered yes, it may again be because you don’t value yourself as much as you do other people.
Are you a “perfectionist”? This behavior is also an indication that you may value the need to do things “perfectly” more than you value your own time and energy.
And what about self-care? How often do you do things for yourself, just because it makes you feel good?
What about diet and exercise? Are you taking care of your body in a way that says, “I love you”?
If much of this sounds familiar to you, and it’s YOUR “normal” then you are probably dealing with lack of self-love.
WHY does it matter?
An important reason to reevaluate your relationship with yourself is that it interferes with your relationships with others.
When we constantly berate ourselves or put others ahead of our own needs or have a constant need to be perfect or please others, we send the message, “I’m not good enough” to ourselves. We also send this message to other people in our lives. We give them permission to determine how we utilize our time and energy. We give them permission to expect more of us than they do of themselves. We give them permission to take advantage of us.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. If you don’t love yourself, and you engage in the behaviors described above, you are telling those around you that it’s ok to treat you like a human door mat. The problem is that even though people don’t mean to, they will begin to take advantage of your generosity and your accommodating personality. AND after a while, you begin to resent those very people who you’ve trained so well to walk all over you! It can be your own children, your husband, your co-workers, and even your best friend.
So, for the sake of your relationships, learning to love yourself is very important.
When you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll find that you attract happy, healthy people who also love themselves in a healthy way! Some people think loving yourself is arrogant or narcissistic, but it’s not. It only becomes unhealthy if your self-love completely disregards those around you.
Another reason you should make self-love a priority is your own emotional well-being. When we talk negatively to and about ourselves, we are creating our own emotional trauma. We suffer from low self-esteem, high stress and high anxiety, and maybe even depression which can lead to physical illness. When we are dealing with stress, it can manifest itself into physical illnesses and disease.
As you can see, self-love is important for both our emotional and physical wellness.
Next time, we'll look at how to begin to cultivate self-love in yourself. In the meantime, remember to love and accept yourself exactly as you are!