How do you love yourself?

Last night I was feeling kind of insecure about mistakes I’d made earlier in the day, about times when I was not my best. My mind went to the old familiar place of shame and fear that I am not good enough. Then I went to the next habitual place of “what can I do to be better?”

I think I set a lot of challenges for myself, like Nanowrimo, or this month’s, “exercise everyday for 60 min”, for not totally healthy reasons. I think I am often trying to better myself as opposed to loving myself. And maybe, probably, those two things don’t have to be opposed. But for me, loving myself hardly ever enters into my mind, or my life. I am not sure I even know how to love who I am, without the constant striving. I have a really hard time forgiving myself for not being better.

But that is not how I treat people that I love. I love my husband, my daughter, my friends, for every little part of them. They don’t have to be perfect, or better than they are. I love the whole package.

So, how do I turn even a fraction of that love towards myself? Last night, in my quasi-dream state I thought I might make it into a challenge (of course I did), something like “Try loving myself for 30 days.” Heh.

I am really not sure how to do that. I have some vague ideas about being attentive to what I am feeling when I am eating, drinking, walking, reading, etc, to see if I like how I am feeling, as well as notice my self-talk and try to develop a more loving “inner voice.”

I don’t know. I feel like I have come a long way in the last few years. Therapy and avoiding situations that reenforced a negative self-concept have really really helped. But there are so many layers to this onion. I need to keep working at it.

So, how do you love yourself? Do you have any insight? Practical, spiritual, psychological? Cause I would like to feel better about not being better.

[cross posted from my blog]

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About Annamelle

I split my time between homeschooling and writing a novel. I'm interested in and inspired by fairy tales, Jung, Buddhism, myths, architecture, nature, etiquette, hidden histories, dreams, Emerson, old books, Gaiman, and legends. "Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you." — Emerson

Posted on December 7, 2011, in advice, body, friends, health, inspiration, letting go, love, mind hacks, questions. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I just wrote a blog post called “Making Friends With Me”. Heck, most of what I’ve been blogging for the last couple of months have been tips, ideas and tricks that I’ve used to change my relationship with myself for the better. For me, my depression pushed me to it. Either I was going to learn to have a more positive relationship with myself or I was going to kill myself and leave 5 kids behind. So I made myself change. It’s not easy. Some days I wonder if I’ve gone crazy and just lost contact with reality. But I’m learning. If nothing else, I hope that I can help my kids learn better ways of being than the one I took into adulthood.
    I’m not going to clog your comments with a bunch of links, but you may want to take a peak at my blog. Some of the things I’ve been writing about are: telling the difference between an excuse and a reason, be wrong – all the time, laziness, learning to avoid conflict, learning to tolerate conflict, and a couple dozen others.
    I do want pass on one specific post I wrote recently called “You’re so sensitive”. You might be able to relate: http://theupsidedownworld.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/youre-so-sensitive/

  2. This is such a hard question, I didn’t even want to read the whole blog post at first. I am really bad at this — I am an improver by nature, practiced at seeing flaws and making plans to fix them. Here are a couple of things that have helped:

    1) Taking myself less seriously. For me this means not getting too attached to a particular idea of myself in addition to not worrying what others think. Maybe think of it this way: take “not worrying what others think” to the next level and try not to worry too much about what you think of yourself at any given moment either.

    This makes it easier to lighten up on always bettering yourself.

    2) This is kind of similar: try to cultivate a perspective on yourself that echoes a friend’s perspective. I have a long history of being terribly hard on myself, and I have had some good friends say, at the right time, “hey, quit being so mean to my friend.” Which sounds kinda goofy, but it helps. Sometimes DH will also ask me, “Would you think the same way about a friend who did the same thing?” which, despite being obvious, gets me out of that self-critical downward spiral sometimes.

    As far as an action plan, my best successes have been with doing stupid things. (See #1, above.) Like recently I started watching a network TV show as kind of an act of rebellion against feeling like everything I do has to be important (which doesn’t lead me to do important things, but leads me to procrastinate all day and night). That was the thing that somehow sent me the message, “Relax and enjoy yourself, silly.” Doing something pointless can be a great antidote for always trying to be better.

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