At some point in your life you probably heard or maybe even said something like this, “She thinks she’s so good!” And you or your friends probably meant it as an insult. But why is that an insult? I would hope that, whoever she is, she does think she’s good. I hope she is filled with self-confidence, self-love and a sense of self-worth, because that means she will likely follow her dreams, make them happen, and accomplish things.
And I hope that for you, too.
Somehow, many of us have equated loving ourselves with being arrogant or immodest. Or we feel that loving ourselves means we don’t love other people enough. It’s similar to the common problem mothers have — they feel that looking after themselves by eating properly and exercising somehow means they’re not being good mothers by putting everyone and everything else first, keeping themselves at the bottom of the list. What they don’t see is that by looking after themselves they can look after others even better.
I want to ask you something. Would you choose to marry and spend the rest of your life with someone you didn’t love? If you were forced to marry someone and spend the rest of your life with that person, wouldn’t you do your best to love him or her? Yet you are living with yourself every second of every day, and you feel it’s ok to not love yourself. You may even feel that you are somehow wrong to love yourself.
When you love a person, you take good care of him. You try to make decisions in his best interest, you try to keep him healthy and you offer him good advice. You love your good friends, and you are always there for them. You help them do whatever they need to do, and you try to help them make decisions that make their life better. Yet you do not do this with yourself. You tell yourself that you’re not worth it.
I was there. When I weighed 360 pounds I was filled with self-loathing. I wanted to be anyone but myself when I woke up in the morning. I would hardly give myself permission to even think about having a better life for myself, because I didn’t think I deserved it. But once I made the decision to lose my excess weight, a lot more changed in my life than just losing extra fat. I realized all the people I wanted to be like were self-confident. They loved themselves. They made decisions based on their own self-interest. They didn’t think this was bad. It’s what made them successful, and then when they were successful they could do so much more to help others.
Let me ask you. Can you help others more if you are poor, unhealthy and working so many hours at a dead-end job just to pay the bills that you have no energy for anything other than sitting in front of the TV at the end of the day? Or can you do more to help others if you are in a career you are passionate about, a career that energizes you and gives you enough money that you can use some of that money to benefit your family and the rest of society? Keeping yourself down does not build the rest of the world up.
Loving yourself does not mean thinking you’re perfect or that you’re always right or that you can’t learn. In fact, people who truly love themselves are more open to learning, to improving themselves and to doing better, because they have nothing to prove. When you feel bad about yourself you tend to hold yourself back from doing, from learning, because you are afraid to show your weaknesses that you are sure will be evident. When you love yourself you don’t worry so much about showing your weaknesses, and this allows you to do, experience and learn so much more. It makes your life a richer one.
So now I’ve convinced you that loving yourself is a good idea, how do you start doing it?
The most important way to start loving yourself is to give yourself permission to do so. Whatever you have within you that is preventing this — whether it started externally, by being different, being mistreated by others, by being bullied, or whether it started internally because you feel somehow that it’s wrong to love yourself, it’s time to change that thinking. John Lennon said, “all you need it love,” and that doesn’t go just for people outside of yourself. Love is only positive.
Next you have to make sure your self-talk is positive. If you do not feel love for yourself or, worse, have a sense of self-loathing, then you probably say really horrible things to yourself. Things you would never say to another person. You have to pay close attention to how you talk to yourself, and stop this negativity. Start treating yourself as you would someone you love, and those feelings will develop. Consciously talk to yourself as you would someone you love intensely. If you hear yourself internally saying something like, “You look terrible. Why would you ever think you could wear something like that?” Instead say to yourself, “That’s not the best look for you. Find something that’s less clingy and more shaped, because it will look way better.” Do you see the difference? In both cases you are telling yourself you don’t look great in the piece of clothing you chose, but one is judgmental and negative and the other is helpful.
You will never achieve the success you desire, whether that’s having a career you are passionate about, making a positive change in the world or even losing your excess weight, until you love yourself. Loving yourself does not take away from anything you feel or do for anyone else — in fact, it enriches it. Just like a good loving marriage makes all areas of your life better and a non-loving marriage makes all areas of your life more difficult, a loving relationship with the person you spend every minute of every day with — yourself – makes all areas of your life better.