It was a crisp and chilly mid-October morning; I had set my alarm for 6 am, as I had a long list of to-do’s that day. I hugged the covers a little tighter as the alarm went off, struggling to get out of the bed. “Ten more minutes,” I told myself. Then I heard the voice inside my head say: “get up, you lazy bum.”
As the voice inside got louder and continued to scold and reprimand me for not getting out of bed, I started feeling awful and already began punishing myself for not holding up my end of the bargain with the alarm clock before the day even started.
As I forced myself out of bed, I could hear my husband singing in the shower. I could feel the positive, joyful energy in his voice -the kind of energy that penetrated every fiber of your being, the kind that could be contagious if you allowed it. Instead of catching the joy, I reacted by becoming super annoyed. My internal dialogue was still persisting that I am a lazy bum and not good enough, putting a damper on being jolly and jubilant a 6 in the morning. The annoyance soon turned into disbelief as I heard him say: “I love you,” “you are awesome.” With eyes half-open, yet popping out my head, I wondered, who was he talking to?
Two years into my marriage, and I just realized I married a selfish, self-absorbed narcissist? How can someone be so loving towards self? This was so foreign to me, as my self talk most often than not included criticism and harsh condemnation.
It took me years and many countless hours of self-growth self-discovery, therapy, and coaching to realize it is NOT selfish nor self-absorbed to love yourself. In fact, a healthy dose of self-love allows you to love others more profoundly and have more empathy towards others.
Self-love is the foundation of everything worthwhile that we want in life.
Self-love is a virtue that needs to be practiced and cultivated into our daily lives by reprogramming and ridding the mind of the negative thoughts we believe about ourselves.
From birth up to the age of 7, children are walking sponges. Without a critical conscious mind, children believe whatever they see, hear, and feel as truth. Without analysis and examination, every statement, positive or negative, is accepted as fact.
Our leading influencers at this very crucial growing years- our parents, grandparents, and caretakers, knowingly or unknowingly planted the seed in us to grow to be self -confident and self-loving, or self-sabotaging people with low self-esteem.
When we have a fundamentally negative view of ourselves, we are biased to interpret adverse outcomes as evidence of our limitations. We become extremely hard on ourselves and highly self -critical for anything less than perfect.
We grow up believing, “I’m not enough, not good enough, not worthy, not competent enough, not lovable enough,” and so on…We carry these limiting beliefs around, allowing them to affect everything we do. We spend most of our adulthood, scolding ourselves and internalizing these negative beliefs as part of our being.
We allow the negative self -talk to dominate our thoughts and our reality, therefore making loving ourselves that much harder!
How can we genuinely love ourselves when the voice inside our head is continually putting us down, mocking us, teasing us, and making us question our self-worth?
How can we praise ourselves for big or little achievements, when our minds are overriding positive thoughts with negativity?
Our thoughts have tremendous power; because what we think about and what we focus on expands. We attract that which we give our energy or thought into.
The more negativity we believe about ourselves, the more the universe provides of it into our lives. The more negativity we have in our lives, the more we cement the negative beliefs to be the truth.
So how do we reverse the cycle of negativity and low self- esteem?
By starting to love ourselves!
And how do we start loving ourselves?
The process of self-love is an unbiased journey within.
Self- love starts with:
- Acceptance– To love yourself, you must first get to know yourself, and then accept all of you: the virtues, the flaws, the good, the bad. The perfect you and the imperfect you.
- Separate the behavior form your identity– We all make mistakes, we all have some behaviors that we are not proud of; being able to separate our behavior from our identity is the key to revealing our true essence.
Do these internal dialogues sound familiar?
Oh, I’m so stupid, I am depressed, I am lazy, I am so
clumsy…you get the picture, I am sure! How often do you hear yourself saying something similar in your head? Now, let me ask you a strange question, do you say to yourself, “I am fingernails,” Just because you have fingernails? You are not sadness, you are not your anger, you are not your mistakes, and you are not your emotions. Your behavior does not identify who you are!
Become aware of the way you talk to yourself, reframe it, and separate the behavior and the emotion from your I AM’s. When you detach yourself from the emotion and the behavior, you allow yourself to observe without judgment.
I have made a wrong decision; I sometimes have depressed thoughts, I feel tired, I can be careless sometimes…and so on.
- Identify your values- Values are what is most important to you at the subconscious level. They determine every action you take and every decision you make. They are your tightly held beliefs and principles that make you who you are and allow you to live life genuinely, authentically, and passionately.
- Be willing to say NO!- When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself! One of the main principles of setting personal boundaries, and respecting yourself is to know when to say YES wholeheartedly and when to say NO. Both your YES’s and your NO’s need to always come from a place of self-preservation.
- Have Gratitude- This is a simple and easy practice with enormous and immediate positive results. The more grateful you are, the more life will offer you to be grateful for. Spend a few minutes to list the things you are thankful for and grow your list every day. Learn to be grateful for the little things in life, as well as big accomplishments. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude attracts more abundance, love, peace, meaningful connection, and happiness to your lives.
- Forgive your self- We are humans. We make mistakes; we fail; we say things that we shouldn’t. We break hearts – intentionally or unintentionally. We hurt people by our actions or our inactions. What happens after you’ve made a mistake? First, realize the past is the past. No matter how regretful, ashamed, or guilty we feel, no amount of self- negative talk, or self-criticism will undo the past. Learn from your mistakes, identify your biggest regrets, take responsibility, and correct wherever possible. Realize that you can only do your personal best at any given moment, live by your values, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and ultimately move on.
- Take action- Knowing is great! However, implementing and putting what we know into action is what empowers us to move forward. Take one step towards your goals every day, stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. Be willing to take risks, be flexible in your approach, be ok with occasional failures and praise even your smallest wins.
That chilly October morning was a wake-up call for me. Even- though it took me years to implement and embrace self-love, the seed was planted deep inside me.
Loving myself was the most profound step into self-growth, self-acceptance, and self-awakening and building healthy self-esteem.
You are one of a kind! There is no one like you, appreciate your uniqueness, your strengths, and your weaknesses. They are what make you who you are. Talk lovingly to yourself, acknowledge yourself, and give gratitude to your BEING.
Loving yourself needs practice! As in anything else, that is worthwhile. Practice loving yourself a little more every day, and make it an amazing love affair between you and YOU!