With all of the self-improvement books out there, the one underlying foundational advice is that one must love themselves. Does this sound great? How does one know how to love one’s self and if we don’t, how do we go about learning to love ourselves?
I’m a self-growth junkie and consequently read numerous books on improving my self-esteem, self-love and whatever else you want to call it. Today, though I respect myself more, I still work on this “self-love” theme. Maybe it’s the essential act of our lives…learning to love ourselves in a world that doesn’t support self-love.
Instead, the world looks for fault, and we are always comparing ourselves to others. A friend said, “What I say to myself, I would never tell another person.” She was implying that she criticizes herself horribly and would never give another person the level of abuse she surrounds herself with daily. I can relate to that. I’m on a chronic “self-judging treadmill,” and I’m learning to release myself from this daily abuse. Maybe I could start a 12-step program “Judging Anonymous.”
I create imaginary stories about what other people think of me, did I displease them, how can I be myself with others, I need to lose weight, didn’t handle that project right, and the list goes on endlessly of the insecurity that resides within my mind. I am not alone on this rough terrain.
As I get older, one of the life lessons I have gathered is that most people don’t pay much attention to us, because they are also busy within their heads doing a similar dance of self-judgment. So why do we give others so much power in our lives?
The skill of “self-love” and it is a skill, is there for us if we desire to learn how to support ourselves. When we learn a new subject or how to use a new technology project, we develop a skill from a desire to learn and experience in following the instructions. What would the process of learning this skill look like? Maybe we could create a contract with ourselves that state:
- I will become aware of what I say to myself. Write down all of those thoughts that are contrary to being compassionate to me. As soon as I recognize the negative thought….say “I won’t accept this abuse.”
- I will accept that the past is over and I’m in charge of the present.
- I will not accept verbal abuse from anyone…ever.
- I will say one respectful statement about myself every day. Louise Hay proposes “mirror work” where every time you are in front of a mirror you “I love you” and put in your name.
We have so many automatic thoughts that it’s impossible to capture all of them, yet awareness allows us to gather the twigs of this large negative “self-judgment” tree and burn them. The twigs are all the negative thoughts cluttering up our minds so that we have little room to live a fuller life and enjoy it. Similar to de-cluttering a house, one drawer at a time, we toss aside all those useless thoughts that add absolutely no value to our lives. Have fun with this…look for those twigs.
What do you think? Today, can you smile more and release yourself from the loop of “self-judgment?” What ways do you love yourself? In what areas do you still abuse yourself with self-talk? Is abuse whether from yourself or others ever acceptable?
Women’s Group Topics
This is a powerful discussion to have with each other. How do you love yourself, how would you like to love yourself and what would it look like it you decided to love yourself. How would you feel, what would you do and what would you say about yourself?
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.” (Pat Brill)