One of our beautiful readers, Nadia, wrote to me asking how to learn to love yourself more. I realized that this is something that all of us soft-hearted, sensitive, caring souls need to learn to do better. Here's her letter along with my response to share with all of you.
Dearest beautiful Jane,
The last articles were really good, thank you really for that! I really benefit from them!! There is this one thing that I've got on my mind...I wonder how do you love yourself more? 🙂 I feel I'm lacking this self-love and I wonder if you can give me some tips? I would really appreciate it. Much love!
Thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad to hear these articles are resonating with you, and yet I understand what you are saying here; if the key to being more confident is learning to love yourself - how do you actually do that? Especially if you come from a place like so many of us do, where loving yourself is such a foreign concept, and self-loathing is a more accurate picture of what we're so used to doing!
A post I wrote about this, It's Time to Be Selfish, also speaks to this topic, but here's what I've discovered about the journey to love yourself more.
Surround yourself with love.
It's first and foremost about surrounding yourself with supportive people who love and accept you the way you are and make you feel good about yourself.
At the same time, it's about letting go of those people who have the opposite effect on you and are always overtly trying to change you, make comments that make you feel they don't truly accept you, and in one way or another send the message that you're not OK the way you are, you'd be better off being the way they think you should be, and ultimately give you the feeling that there's something wrong with you even though they don't know anything about what they're talking about! The don't.
Now if these people are members your family, while it's not possible to change our families of origin, we can choose to limit our interactions with them and set clear strong boundaries with them when we do need to be around them to limit the amount of control they're able to have over our lives and the way we feel. The idea here, is that by surrounding ourselves with supportive, positive people, it's much easier to be loving to ourselves than if we're always feeling like we need to defend or explain ourselves.
Get involved in hobbies, passions, activities and projects that you're passionate about and enjoy doing. There's nothing that sends a clearer message to ourselves that we're special and worthy and have so much to offer than doing things that give us proof of that. From the small things like being kind to people when we talk to them, to causes we support or volunteer for where we can genuinely make a difference in the world, it's doing these types of things that give us a whole person to love in ourselves - and reminds us of even more reasons why we're special and can make a difference in a way that's unique to us!
Remember it's OK to say no.
Only say yes to those things you really mean to say yes to, and remember it's OK to say no to the things you really don't want to do! So often we get so caught up in that pleasing mentality where we feel guilty if we say no, and we feel like we always have to say yes if we want people to like us, that we miss out on a wonderful opportunity to show our beautiful selves just how much we're worth and how loving we can be to ourselves.
We becomes so much less authentic when we give up being true to ourselves in exchange for giving people what we think they want from us, and in the process, we send ourselves the very unloving message that we don't have the right to stand up for ourselves and let our yes's simply be yes's, and our no's simply be no's, without long, apologetic defensive explanations.
Responses like this only make us feel worse about ourselves and make us sound like we don't truly believe we have the right to make our own decisions that are best for us! This one can be especially difficult to do if you received the message that saying no was selfish and being agreeable made you a good little girl. But it's also one of the most important things you can do to honor and respect that beautiful woman you truly are!
Stretch yourself to do things that are out of your comfort zone. Ask yourself what you believe isn't your strong point or your personality strength. Go back in time to think of those things that others told you that you couldn't do or thought you'd never be able to do. Whether the messages you received were subtle or not so subtle, chances are you got the clear message that there were some things you were better at than others, and some things you shouldn't even attempt to try.
The reality is, that those messages you received were based on other people's perception of you, and even though they may have had the best of intentions, such as not wanting you to fail, the end result is always the same. You end up with far too many should's and shouldn'ts that hold you back, give you a feeling of incompetence, and leave you much more likely to loathe yourself for all the things you can't do, rather than love yourself for all the things you can do!
Show yourself that you really can do whatever you put your mind to - this isn't about proving anything to anyone else, but yourself! And know that if there is something you fail at, it's never a failure but a learning experience that puts you more in touch with yourself as you learn even more about who you really are and what you're all about!
Give yourself a fresh makeover. Not that you need to change yourself in any kind of a drastic way, but sometimes just treating yourself to a new updated hairstyle, some new makeup, a new wardrobe, a fresh manicure or pedicure or whatever else is within your budget and fits your lifestyle can do wonders for how you feel about yourself. Don't do any of this for anyone else but yourself, and make sure it reflects who you are and not some hairstylist's or makeover artist's latest craze, but just some small steps to make you feel your best can do wonders for your self-esteem and your ability to see your beautiful, loveable self in a fresh new light.
Becoming your healthiest self by joining a fun exercise class, finding someone to run or bike with, taking up yoga or dance classes, and finding your own path to healthy living by learning to cook healthy meals for yourself are all ways that you send yourself the message that you're worth taking care of in healthy ways!
Remind yourself of how loveable you are.
Finally, daily affirmations can make such a difference if you start each and every day with your favorite inspirational sayings that you post as a reminder on your bathroom mirror or fridge reminding you of all that you are, all that you have to offer someone truly deserving of you, and all that is beautiful and loveable about yourself! Find those sayings that inspire you and write them out so that they become that much more real in your own handwriting, etching them in your mind.
Most of all, Nadia, remember that there is no one like you, no one who can do what you were created to do, and there is no one you ever need to prove your worthiness to of all that is wonderful and beautiful and loving in the world. You deserve nothing less than all that love and life have to offer you, my beautiful friend, and the irony is that it's only when we eventually come to believe this that we finally find that's exactly what we end up with!
Much love to you!
What about you? Do you have any additional ideas on how we can all give ourselves the gift of loving ourselves? Share them with us in the comments.