Patients often look at me quizzically when I ask them how much they love themselves.
Many well up in tears because they know they are unloving (and even hateful) toward themselves.
And, on the other end of the spectrum, some are afraid to admit that they actually do love themselves because our society has led us to believe that “self-love” is…selfish, self-centered, indulgent or narcissistic.
But, I challenge you to think of self-love as being necessary, healthy, valuable and life-changing.
It’s filled with self-compassion, self-care, and self-forgiveness.
I know the road to self-love is littered with skeptics (I was one before I had my “ah-ha” moment).
But, on my own journey, and in the lives of many patient’s I’ve helped, the single most important shift in health occurred when embracing self-love became a priority.
Self-love means you fully love and accept yourself — regardless of how you look, feel or act — and you make yourself (and your needs) a priority everyday.
Self-love doesn’t include pushing yourself to the limits, putting everyone’s needs above your own, and wishing that “someday” you’ll get healthy and take care of yourself.
Take the quick “self-love” quiz…
- Make myself (and my needs) a priority every day?
- Include daily time for self-care (including exercise/movement and eating healthy foods)?
- Carve out daily time for doing things that nourish and support me?
- Give others the best version of me because I’ve taken time to create the best version of me?
- Share with others (give back to the world) my gifts, talents, and blessings after I’ve shared them with myself first?
- Strive to think healthy, loving thoughts toward myself?
- Live with self-compassion and self-forgiveness?
- Ask for help when I need it (including asking for help on the journey to self-love)?
- Fully love and accept myself (regardless of how I look, feel, or act)?
Let me share a bit more here…
When I was stuck in my health (with severe, debilitating fatigue) and had tried many things with little results—a doctor asked me why I was so hard on myself. I had no idea what she was talking about. But, in true Deborah fashion, I did some research and read some books.
What I realized was simply this…I didn’t fully love or accept myself.
Being “so hard on myself” was a reflection of this: I thought I had to earn love (from others and myself). I’ll love myself when I’m perfect, accomplished, healthy, and have everything in my life figured out “just right”.
In my eyes, when I “failed, messed-up, or made mistakes” I was unworthy of love and acceptance from myself and others.
But the kicker was this…I had NO idea I thought this way. I had NO idea I didn’t love myself (or even like myself sometimes).
I constantly felt anxious and “not quite right”. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and could never quite relax.
It took a few years to get on the “self-love train” but I’m here and I’m a different person…and omigoodness I feel amazing!
No more anxiety or feeling like there is something inherently wrong with me. No more need for perfection.
And, the severe, debilitating fatigue?
Here’s the reason why.
When you start looking at yourself through the lens of self-love, you naturally gravitate toward healthy choices. You tend to choose less self-destructive thoughts or habits and you feel better in your body.
You don’t have to try so hard.
You experience less depression, anxiety, and moodiness.
You take time to work on the “unlovable parts” of yourself—and learn why you’ve created unhealthy thoughts or patterns in your life.
You laugh more. Smile more. And radiate with an inner glow that’s infectious.
Self-love is a “secret miracle cure.” If I could package it in a pill I would.
Take some time and really think about the quiz questions above. How did you do on the “self-love” quiz?
Have you considered that there is a connection with self-love and how your body feels everyday?
A healthy body can only live with a healthy (and loving) mind.
I know the road to self-love is a difficult one…it’s hard to break old habits and make yourself a priority (without feeling guilty or selfish). And, it’s especially challenging to find the time at first!
And, going further, sometimes it’s hard to even recognize that you are unloving toward yourself!
One the the first things I recommend to patients is to write themselves a love letter.
If it helps, think of yourself as a child and tell that child (yourself) how much you love her.
Give your inner child some love!
This may be a challenging exercise (and one met with tremendous fear, resistance, and pain) but it’ll begin the process of learning how to love yourself.
Do you accept this challenge?
Please leave a comment below.