When You Don’t Know How To "Love Yourself"
For much of my life I knew that I was supposed to love myself if I wanted to have a thriving love relationship with another person.
I also knew I didn’t really love myself. I chronically felt insecure and, somewhere deep inside, like I wasn’t quite good enough.
I knew the remedy was to “love myself” more. But I had absolutely no idea how. I had no idea how other people came to love themselves, despite the books I read to try to get to the mythical place of True Self-Love.
I thought maybe I was doomed to never get there.
So I kept looking for love outside of myself. Looking to my lovers to prove to me that I was lovable: waiting for their adoring gazes, their sweet whispered praises, their pledged devotion, their “you’re so amazing”s. And if they didn’t --or couldn’t-- do these things? I felt unlovable.
Now I know I was definitely not alone. Most, if not all, of the women and men I work with tell me they “don’t know how to love themselves”.
If you feel the same way, it’s totally normal. You’re in good company in this world. Especially as an HSP.
We humans don’t come naturally wired to love ourselves. We don’t come into this world feeling all warm and cozy about ourselves.
And as young HSPs we may have often gotten the signal from the world around us that we’re a little weird, a little abnormal, and this makes it even harder for us to feel good about ourselves.
So, as adults, we need to actually LEARN how to have deep fondness for this human that we are.
I am happy to say that “loving myself” now feels natural to me. With the serious help of coaching, I now seriously feel love for ME.
This doesn't mean I smittenly stare at myself in the mirror --or that I think I'm BETTER than anyone. But I truly enjoy who I am. I know I can rely on myself for a sense of security. And I feel lovable whether others find me so or not.
This makes it so much easier to love and feel loved in my marriage: to do the work and take the risks it takes to have one of the most ever-evolving, deeply-loving, fun, joyful, passionate marriages I know of.
I want the same for you!
So here are 4 pieces of the process I’ve used to develop real love for myself:
1. Disbelieve all the crappy things your brain likes to tell you about yourself, like, ”you’re too anti-social, you’re too grouchy” or the sneakier first-person version, like: “I’m not smart enough, I’m too reactive. Something is wrong with me”.
To start “disbelieving” such awful thoughts, tell yourself some version of this: “There goes my Lizard Brain again in judgement-mode”. Or “That’s a painful thought. But it’s JUST a thought, not necessarily a TRUTH.”
2. Create a "Soft Landing" inside yourself. Think of this as a friendly zone in your own head and heart reserved just for meeting yourself with the warmth you would give a dear friend when she’s upset or hurting. A place you can retreat to comfort yourself. As if you had the coziest snuggly blanket inside your heart you could wrap yourself in when needed. So that, even when you’ve made a mistake, like we all do, or you’ve done something you don’t feel good about, you can turn towards yourself and be met with kindness and warmth.
To begin to create that for yourself, answer these questions: How would I be there for my best friend or child if they were hurting? What would my attitude be toward them? What would I say? Then do and say these exact things to yourself when something’s gone “wrong”.
3. Choose to focus on what you do appreciate and enjoy already about yourself. It can be as simple as asking yourself, “In what ways am I likable (or lovable) --to me?” Let your brain go looking for lots of little answers. Nothing is too small.
Yes, you do need to be INTENTIONAL about all this for many weeks or months. Over time, this will rewire your brain so you naturally and effortlessly SEE your goodness and feel really good about who you are.
4. Set small achievable goals for yourself that prove it’s possible to become someone you really admire. For example, if you’d feel really great about being a more patient person, purposefully grow your patience, perhaps by putting yourself in some situations that gently test and strengthen your patience muscles... ( i.e. playing a board game with a 4 year old???)
When we show ourselves we can achieve small personal goals and become more of who we want to be, this grows our confidence and our pride in ourselves by leaps and bounds, and naturally inspires more self-love.
Has learning how to love myself made it so that I never worry or feel awkward? Or that my husband and I never have conflict? Or that we have a perfect sense of love and joy all the time?
Of course not.
But I love myself through all of it. It has made it so I know I always have my own safe gentle arms to turn back to for absolute support and love through the good times and the bad.
And I can give my man love way more freely because I have so much of it inside myself, and I'm not needing to get it from him all the time.
I can focus on being the person I want to be, and on loving him fully--which, ironically, always results in him showing me even more love!
This is all possible for you, too, when you show up for yourself and learn to love yourself.
With Much Love,
P.S. Learning how to love myself has also made a major impact on other areas that deeply matter to me in my life. I can do crazy courageous things in the world that I used to back away from. Like go on live video on Facebook, and help people in way bigger ways than I ever would have before.
I’ve also genuinely forgiven and healed relationships with some of the more challenging people in my life, like my father, and old lovers whom for so long I’d thought had done me wrong.
I see this with my clients too. Learning to love themselves has :
~increased the love, connection, laughter, and ease in their marriage
~allowed them to heal relationships with their parents that were stone cold for years
~allowed them to go through a divorce with love in their hearts instead of bitterness
~given them the steam they needed to make great new friendships
~made it possible for their career to finally wildly take off because of how much more they are able to bring to it now that they have this deep solid sense of love for themselves.
If you’re ready to do the same, and watch your marriage and life change in the best possible ways, come coach with me. I will show you exactly how, and walk you through all the barriers inside you, until you come out the other side powerful, strong, confident, loving-- and the most lovable you’ve ever been.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and say, “I’m in” and share a couple sentences about what’s motivating you. We’ll take it from there together.