?A smiling blonde woman lying in fallen leaves at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University? by Neal Kharawala on Unsplash
Nobody?s perfect. We all make mistakes. We all struggle to like ourselves. I have a theory that that is what holds us back the most in life, the fears that we?re not good enough, that we haven?t been told we can. I think in this case it?s not just a fear of failure that holds us back, but fear of success.
I also have a theory that the voices in our head that we entertain, the small ones that we begin to give credence to, become our guiding thought process. This can have either good or detrimental effects not only to our psyche, but it fuels our emotions and our actions towards other people.
My theory works like this: Self-Love is the answer for becoming successful and working towards our goals. Self-Love is the motivation we need to cultivate to try harder with our relationships and self-betterment. Self-Love will actually take us where we want to go in life. I think Self-Love may be the answer for halting Anxiety and Depression (which seem a lot more prevalent nowadays) before they begin.
Without Self-Love, where are we?
Stuck in that confusing muddle where we convince ourselves that we?re not good enough. We may hold onto that dream of ?someday,? but we?re not actually convinced we?ll get there, because?we?re not good enough, and so, we don?t even try.
In a downward spiral of self-doubt, self-hate, ?Why am I not good enough?? ?Because I don?t try hard enough.? Then we try, but we put unrealistic expectations on our efforts, and our little bit of self-esteem crumbles. Then the destructive voice says, ?See? I told you that you weren?t good enough.? And we continue down this spiral.
?Well if I?m not good enough then I should stay were I am.?
But the destructive voice isn?t done with you yet. It wriggles it?s way into everything you do, every thought, every time you think, ?Hey, I can do that,? the voice is there saying, ?No, you can?t,? and we listen because all of the times we?ve tried, failed, and trying again is too much work, we?re too emotionally invested to want to just fail again.
With the ?logic? of past experience behind the destructive voice, how can we not listen?
I?m not a doctor, and I don?t profess to have the cure for Anxiety and Depression. What I do think is that if we learn to love ourselves properly, we won?t need to seek it from outside sources, and then feel worse about ourselves when our needs aren?t being met.
People need validation, and not everyone knows how to grant themselves healthy acknowledgment/kudos and self-love.
So to keep ourselves from becoming narcissistic egomaniacs (which no one likes), we tear ourselves down.
How can we learn to love ourselves in a healthy, affirming way? How do we pull ourselves out of these self-destructive spirals?
1. You need to learn to be O.K. with the person you are. Validate yourself. Practice this by looking in the mirror and instead of seeing your flaws, strip away the negative voices. Anytime, they come, hear them out, but don?t agree. Let them just pass right by like a duck letting water roll off it?s back.
Just exist in that moment. You are a human person. You deserve the kindness you show others. You deserve the compliments you shower on others, but refuse to give yourself. Own yourself exactly as you are.
2. Once you?ve stripped away the negative voice and neutrally examine yourself, find and focus on the good. What are your talents? What are your good behaviors? What are the best relationships you have, and what do you do for those people?
Understand that the brain is powerful, and changing how you see yourself is incredibly important. We change constantly with every new influence. Our brains never truly forget anything, we just lose the neural pathways to those memories because of disuse. Retrain your brain to find the good things in life. Even celebrating the small, seemingly insignificant things are drops in the bucket that will eventually add up.
Start small, and don?t be afraid to start slow. You?ll build momentum with practice.
Practice steps 1 and 2 daily in the mirror. It?s important to reshape your vision of yourself. Your emotional/mental health are worth that effort. You are worth seeing yourself as worthwhile.
Other steps to take:
3. Help someone else. Break your self-destructive cycle by putting forth service. Make it a habit to go out of your way for others. Search out their needs and fulfill them. This will help you look outside yourself while beginning to understand that you yourself are a human being. Treating others well, helps you change your perspective on their lives and yours.
Even if you?re not getting the same treatment from others, service rewires your brain to focus on building up instead of tearing down. Humanizing others as well as yourself will change the way you treat yourself.
4. Never give in to self-doubt or victimizing voices in your head. They are there for the sole purpose of hurting you, not helping you, and actively listening to them and letting them shape your mind, attitude, and behaviors, gives them power that they don?t deserve. Victims are those who have things happen to them. Taking control and rewiring your brain for positive thoughts gives you the power.
5. Do the things that are good for you. Take care of yourself. It?s absolutely amazing how much our moods are affected by lack of sleep or diet (hormones). Your health is a factor in your happiness.
Your body is made up of chemicals and cells all working together, but in order to work right, they need the right fuel. Make sure you?re doing your best to facilitate feeling good.
6. Immerse yourself in a new project. Do the things you love to do because having a purpose, not only puts you in a good mood, but gives you a reason to keep progressing. Take advantage of hobbies, learn a new skill, and invite a friend to work with you. Positive relationships will build your self esteem.
7. Find someone who loves you to keep in your corner. Sometimes we need another voice to combat the destructive ones. One we can physically hear, that encourages and believes in you. It?s like your a boxer and you need a coach to give you advice and warn you away from pitfalls. Listen to the good voices.
Self-Love is important because it begins with the root of who we are and spreads out from there. Learn to love yourself in the basest form. That love will transfer into all that you do.