Learning to Love Yourself
We are all looking for love and acceptance of some kind; however that can prove hugely difficult for some of us, particularly if we aren’t able to love or accept ourselves. Low self-esteem can cause terrible emotional pain and self-doubt.
The great news is that we can overcome these issues; we can learn to think more positively about ourselves whatever our age or situation in life. We can develop confidence in our abilities and accept those things we aren’t so good at without punishing ourselves. We can choose to put the past behind us and move towards the future with a more positive approach.
“It’s not what you are that is holding you back; it’s what you think you are not.” Anon
When I began training as a counsellor the tutor impressed upon our group the importance of loving ourselves. At first this concept felt extremely uncomfortable — loving myself didn’t sit well with me at all, I was nothing special, not particularly pretty, or particularly clever. I could love other people — that came easily to me — but to love myself seemed self-indulgent.
Over time, I came to understand that what my tutor meant was that we need to believe in, and think well of ourselves. It is fine to be aware of our faults but it’s not okay to let those overwhelm us to such an extent that we aren’t able to see or acknowledge the good that exists within us. If we aren’t able to love ourselves then we won’t be truly able to accept love from others — or in turn, fully love.
For some of us, learning to love ourselves can seem an insurmountable goal; however there are some changes you can make which should help you on your journey.
1. Think about how might it feel to stop focusing on the things you aren’t good at and be positive about the things you can do?
2. Begin to respect yourself by cutting down on the self-criticism and muffling your inner-critic.
3. Show yourself the same compassion you would show someone else. Be kind when you are suffering, give yourself a break when you going through a rough time.
4. Validate your own decisions and actions instead of being so focused on external validation from other people.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others and appreciate the special things that make you an individual.
6. Have faith in your abilities and don’t be disheartened by failure. Failure is a necessary part of life and personal growth. It makes us stronger!
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James (1842–1910)