Let me get straight to the point and ask you a very powerful question: Do you love yourself? Yes I do mean truly love yourself. I’m not necessarily talking about accepting yourself. When I hear most people talk about acceptance, they also referred to accepting flaws and weaknesses. What most don’t realize is that in doing so, you’re also in a sense saying, there is something wrong with me. Flaw means an imperfection or defect and weakness also means a defect as well as fault or failing. How do those things make you feel? I would imagine not very good.
Feedback I get from my life coaching and relationship coaching clients about what they say to themselves whether quietly in their mind or out loud is what I call “self talk.” Those things that you say to yourself about yourself. Even in jest or done with humor, you are still talking to yourself in a powerful way that can be damaging and harmful. It can be endearing and quite funny sometimes listening to someone who has a self deprecation type of humor. My question is what are they REALLY saying about themselves and where is it coming from?
You may be one of those people who grew up in a home where your parents gave you an immeasurable amount of love, but did they teach you how to love yourself? Maybe the love was expressed as validation and approval and if so, I’m wondering if you’re not happy because you are completely reliant on that approval and validation. Were your caretakers an example of what it means to love yourself? Most importantly, how would you define love?
I’ve been asking this question from a lot of my clients lately and I’ve been getting some interesting answers. Some say they were given love by the things their parents or caretakers did for them or gave them. I’ve even had a few who were stumped by my question and couldn’t give me an answer or said they didn’t have words to explain it. What I’m referring to is the people who expressed love to you, who were they being in that moment when you felt love?
If you loved yourself, how would that impact your relationships? If you loved yourself, how would that impact your work and how you interact with others in the realm of your work? If you loved yourself, how would that impact you when you are spending time with just you? Louise Hay said it so profoundly in her LOVING TREATMENT Affirmation and Meditation in her published book “You Can Heal Your Life.”
Do you say things to yourself like “I’m not happy alone”, “I’m fat”, “I do really stupid things”, or “I’m a failure”? I know I’m asking a lot of questions and I’m hoping that by doing so, you are starting to ponder this information for yourself. If you loved yourself, you probably wouldn’t care so much about what other people think. I’m not saying that you won’t get hurt if someone says hurtful things, but you will be able to decipher how much of it you choose to take on and the impact of what they say to you so that it won’t have a long lasting and damaging affect. If you love yourself you would also probably set some very clear and healthy boundaries with others in terms of what’s okay with you and what isn’t. It would also allow you to engage in some of the more difficult types of conversations, using them as an opportunity to grow and learn rather than hindering your ability to be self expressed.
If you aren’t quite sure what love means to you, one place to start might be doing some research and exploring. I love the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. He talks about how each of us has a primary and sometimes secondary love language as to how we feel loved and usually express love. Such as quality time, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service. You can buy this book and see my other recommended reading on my website.
For those of you out there who have kids or are thinking about having kids, it’s especially important that you learn how to love yourself. You can’t teach them unless you know how to do it yourself. It’s probably the most important gift you can give them that will support them in being successful and truly happy in life.
Another great place to start would be to change your conversations to include what you are doing right instead of what you are doing wrong. What you do well instead of what you’re terrible at. You could also ask “What do I love about myself?” The answer that may have come up is nothing. I bet that if I was sitting down with you and you really thought about it, you could probably find at least one thing. Once you can find something you like or love about you, you are now on the road to loving yourself completely.