The Challenge of Self Love

As my depression has lifted over the last couple years, and even with it’s dips every so often, I am learning I have a final hurtle to conquer to really free myself from continually cycling down into depression.  For me, it is this: learning to love myself.  When I discuss this, I am not only referring to feeling love toward myself, but treating myself with love–or in other words, love as a verb.

It’s difficult for me to share this with the world.  It makes me feel vulnerable to lay my private thoughts out for all to see, but I believe in the power that vulnerability gives us to make connections, to help others and to find healing within ourselves.  So, here goes.

I am, among other things, a person with high ideals and standards for myself.  I believe in the ideal.  I strive to work toward it, in my family and personal life.  It’s not possible to always reach it, but I have felt blessed by reaching toward it.  I would also say that I am a very compassionate person.  I will bend over backwards to help someone in need, be it friend or stranger.  I give people the benefit of the doubt and see the good in others.  I’m not perfect at this, but when I find myself being critical I am able to change course.  I don’t hold grudges.  The interesting, and sad thing here is that I find it very difficult to extend that same love, compassion and kindness to myself.  What comes so naturally in my interactions with others, is absolutely not natural in the thoughts and feelings I have toward me.

I know this is not something unique to me.  I know others struggle with this same phenomenon.  And so, let me share some insights I have had as I have embarked on this journey of self love.

First, I realized that it is important to notice my own thoughts and feelings as they pertain to myself–this is known as self-talk or one’s inner dialogue.  This took me a long time.  I actually didn’t even recognize that I had a negative inner dialogue until quite recently.  I didn’t realize how poorly I treated myself, because I didn’t take time to really notice my thoughts.  When I did notice them, I was surprised at just how hard I tend to be on myself.  When I did a task, I would inwardly berate myself for not doing it better.  When I interact with someone else, I feel badly about how the exchange went, thinking I should have said something differently, or acted differently.  I basically realized, that I did not give myself credit for anything I did, I criticized myself at every turn and put myself down for my perceived shortcomings.  In my mind I was never enough and could never measure up.  Much of this inner dialogue is automatic and occurs in my sub-conscious thoughts, so it really took some pondering and quiet reflecting to realize just what I was actually doing.  But when I did realize, I knew I wanted to change that.

I am a person of faith and believe that I am divine in nature because I am a daughter of God–the Creator of the universe and Father of us all.  But my thoughts have not reflected this belief.  Nor have they come close.  I have been constantly grinding myself into the dust, but no more!  So, if step one is to notice your own thoughts, step two would be to combat them.  I believe that we can rewire our thought processes and by so doing change how we feel and how we approach life.  I have been working on doing just that.  So how am I combatting the negative dialogue within me?  I have been working on loving myself–and I’m not talking about producing a feeling of love for myself out of nowhere–I am talking about the verb love–love as an action word.

What does love the verb look like to me?  It includes being gentle with and kind to others, giving people the benefit of the doubt and not being overly critical.  This means when critical thoughts arise about myself, I must be gentle and kind.  It might look something like this: “I didn’t finish my to do list today.  I barely got anything done.”  This is something generic I might typically say to myself.  Notice how focused it is on the negative.  I am focused here on what I didn’t do.  I have learned that to love myself in this type of instance is to change my focus to the positive, or what I did do.  “I read books to my son today.  I was there for my kids.  I exercised today.  I cooked for my family, etc.”  This sounds so simple!  And it is–but it is not easy.  Not at first.  Not when you have subconsciously been putting yourself down for years.  It takes practice, practice, practice.  But I can tell you I have already made a lot of progress here and I haven’t been doing it for that long.

Another important aspect of self love is to remember this simple slogan: “Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love.”  Being a mom to 4 special kids, it is easy for me to see how I treat people that I love.  I am not perfect, but I try to be gentle with my children by helping them to see all the good they do and all the good they are.  Not only this, but I want my children to be happy!  I want them to work hard and grow and progress, but I also want them to have joy in life.  I want them to do things they enjoy every day.

And this brings me to my next point.  I have learned that if I really love myself, not only do I have to change my thoughts, I have to change my habits.  In this busy world where we are encouraged to go go go and constantly be connected and be productive, we can be caught in a trap– and that is, a life without joy and happiness.  I often get caught in this trap.  I want to be productive, I want to get many things accomplished each day.  But often I do this at the expense of my well-being.  I don’t take breaks, I push myself to work until I am exhausted and at the end of the day, I have not done one thing that I love–not one thing just for my own enjoyment.  This is a recipe for unhappiness and does not reflect any self love.  Would I encourage someone I love to run themselves into the ground like this?  Of course not.  So, I have lowered my expectations of what I should accomplish each day–a lot.  I have made the to-do list smaller and I have remembered things I enjoy doing.  I love to read.  I love to be outside.  I need quiet time to think and ponder.  I am trying to give myself this kind of time every day.  My final counsel is to slow down, and get to know you.  Find out what you need to do in life to be happy and then do it–every day.

This is my ongoing journey with self love.  I am not sure why this has been so hard for me, but I know I am worth loving and so I am trying every day.  This is a part of my fight.

And I will keep fighting it.

Advertisements

14 Replies to “The Challenge of Self Love”

  1. Self-love has been my hardest feat. I have to work on it everyday. Stopping the negative self-talk was my first step. I am on this journey with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your comment! It’s so validating to know I’m not alone. We can do this! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for posting this. This is a battle that I’m working on myself. To become my own best friend and like you said it isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Thank you for these tips! Have a blessed day!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Juliet! I hope that we can keep making progress in learning to love ourselves. It’s worth our best efforts. I hope you have a blessed day as well. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m currently working really hard on self-love. Not blaming myself for things that are outwith my control. I’ll definitely be revisiting this post for a reminder every so often. Take care😌❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It’s definitely hard work. I’m glad to hear of your efforts. I hope this was helpful. ❤️ take care!

      Like

  4. Loving ourselves means accepting everything about us, our ups, as well as our downs, and, it was hard for me to, accept and love myself for my lows, and yet, after i’d gone through my share of trials in life, i’d realized, that only by accepting all of my ups and downs, and stop trying to reject my own negative moods (i.e. anger, depression), i can be whole, so just, keep on working on accepting your own ups as well as downs, and the downs are especially hard, because they make us feel low, and, nobody wants to feel low…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your insights. I have just started learning about this idea of accepting the lows. I believe you are right. I also believe, that for my own lasting happiness, I need to love myself. And for me that means I need to make a few changes in my life. I suppose it is a balance between knowing when it is healthy to change some things, but also to accept and embrace others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your insight.

      Like

  5. Thank you so much for sharing… I know it takes courage to share battles we are currently fighting rather than those we already won. But I personally find inspiration and compassion in reading your post. It gives me courage to move forward and hold on.
    Thank you! It means a lot to me to read your words. I wish you all the best and with every stumble I wish you even more powerful raise!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Depuzzler, thank you so much for your kind words! You made my morning. Thank you and I wish the same for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I find it very hard, sometimes, to stay positive and look for the good in myself when there is so much negativity around me. I’ve recently decided to spend less time on social media’s like Facebook which I used to love using to stay connected with family and friends, now I loathe the notifications that say someone has just updated their status. I just find that the drama just weighs on my mental health and being without it makes my days a little better. I’m not wondering why someone criticized someone else for a cryptic post they made or why another friend who claims she is always the centre of, or being blamed for causing trouble amongst the mommy group she is in, although she says her posts are not directed at anyone specifically you know they are and she’s bringing it all on herself. It’s just better for me not to know anything then when the gossiping starts I’m able to shut it down and change the subject. I’ve been through a lot in the last few years which has led to depression and anxiety but making changes in how I talk to myself, and being more honest about my feelings with people around me have really been the key to curbing the low days. The low days are becoming fewer and farther apart. For a long time I had a list of positivity that I read out loud to the mirror when I started on a downward spiral. You aren’t alone, and everyday gets easier. Just take it one day at a time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree about social media-it definitely can be a negative force in my life as well. I love the points you bring up here. Thanks for your words of encouragement! I wish you the best as you keep going on your journey of self love. I’m right there with you!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s