Written by Barbara Davis-Thompson
Here are two definitions of Self-love:
1. an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue
2. proper regard for and attention to one’s own happiness, needs or well-being.
“Loving yourself...does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” ~Margo Anand
According to Ross Rosenberg, lack of self-love, which has its roots in codependency, can now be classified as a disorder called Self-Love Deficit Disorder. His description of the behaviors of this disorder are:
-Take responsibility for others’ actions
-A need to control others
-Fear of being abandoned or alone
-Feel guilty when asserting themselves
-Go the extra mile with everything
-Need approval from others, and
-Do anything to hold on to a relationship.
As you read the above list, how many behaviors describe you?
If not that many, then how else to tell if you are not your number one fan?
Let’s look at other behaviors that indicate a lack of self-love. Ask yourself: Are you too often needing reassurance? Apologizing too much? Saying yes even when you don’t want to? Too self-critical when you make mistakes? Too often feeling inadequate? Fearful of success? Fault find others to make yourself feel better? Indecisive? Unable to be alone and enjoy your own company?
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Imagine, you beat out 200 million competitors to become you. Fertilization only takes one sperm to enter the woman’s egg, but it has to beat out 200 million sperm. Impressive, right? You are, indeed, one of a kind.
You are unique. There will not be another you in the annals of time. You came into existence not to be perfect, but to be you. As Dr. Seuss says, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" Shout aloud, "I am lucky to be what I am!...”
“Owning our story & loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.”~Brene Brown
What is needed to fall in love with yourself? Positive start points are:
1) willingness to accept yourself as is
2) to understand your weaknesses without condemnation,
3) to lighten up on yourself,
4) to believe in yourself,
5) to respect yourself and
6) to know your needs and express them.
Take a moment to appreciate that you sleep with yourself every day of your life. You don’t want to sleep with an enemy or a stranger. If you won’t accept yourself because you’ve made mistakes, have weaknesses, and acted out less than noble behavior, please imprint on your brain that you are human and you don’t need to be perfect.
Your history is what you were; today you are what you made of your history. Louise Hay makes the suggestion that if you’ve been self-critical for years, it likely it hasn’t worked, so how about approving of yourself and then see what happens. A practical step you can take to embrace self-love that takes very little time and effort but pays huge dividends is to each morning as you look into the mirror, say your name and the words ‘I love you.’
Repeat three times. Do twice daily.
“Self-love does not require you to ignore your faults, but rather to refuse to use them as an excuse to dislike yourself.”~Dominee
The practice of mindfulness, keeping your head where your feet are, is a strong foundation for building self-love. Your true executive moment is in the minute. Remember the quote about yesterday being a canceled check, tomorrow being a promissory note and today being cash in Hand.
With mindfulness, you are aware of each executive moment and make the best, the most effective decisions that allow you to care enough which exponentially expands self-love. As Andrea Dylestra said, “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that
shaped you.” Own the past, learn from it, understanding that mistakes are a chance for you to repeat a behavior but do it differently so you get the results you want. Martha Beck, a writer for O, The Oprah Magazine, swears by the 10-10-80 rule.
Her formula allows for being fully human: 10% of the time you out-genius yourself, 10% of the time you fall into the toilet with nasty whatever, and 80% of the time you have the opportunity to redirect your behavior toward what is effective and respects you and others, rather than falling backwards into reactive, ineffective, and lashing out or bottoming out behavior.
“You are not your mistakes; they are what you did, not who you are.~Lisa Lieberman-Wang
Self-love is a rewarding process that will bring untold benefits. You can undertake to be your own best support on your own, with a buddy, or by going to psychotherapy. Now, the entire process of self-love is not just magnifying the positive but also to own your good, bad, and ugly. Having a non-judgmental, accepting, and kindly honest therapist at your side can speed the process of self-love.
Having a non-judgmental, accepting, and kindly honest therapist at your side can speed the process of self-love.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.~Eleanor Brown
How about adding to your weekly routine of telling yourself each day “I love you” the following suggestions - taking just one action each day as below:
Monday - Be patiently kind to yourself. For example, if you make a mistake own it and no berating or shaming name-calling yourself.
Tuesday - Identify a need or want. Check in on yourself throughout the day and ask your body, mind, emotions, energy or spirit what it needs. Follow through. If your body needs to rest, allow yourself 5 minutes. If your spirit needs to be in nature, take a walk.
Wednesday - Take positive action to like yourself better. The action can be small. Holding the door for an elder. Writing a thank you note to an old friend or a service worker. Doing an act of service. Cooking a healthy meal for yourself. Following through on something you put to the side. Writing a love letter to yourself.
Thursday - Say "No" (or set a boundary) with something you just don’t want to do. You can start small and practice by saying "No" to a coffee refill if you are at a diner. Or say "No" to a telemarketer. But please don’t say "No" to yourself with activities that are good self-care such as exercise, meditation, healthy diet, good sleep, etc.
Friday - Forgive yourself for something you have done that you feel bad about. Write a letter to the younger you that behaved that way. In the letter, tell this part of you that you understand it was the best decision at the time and that it is OK. Assure the younger you that decisions, good or bad, are a part of a lifelong learning process.
Saturday - Acknowledge the best in you. Create an identity statement that underscores your strengths. Or, write a list of your accomplishments and place this information somewhere in your line of sight so you can refer to it on a daily or weekly basis.
Sunday - Keep on keeping on. Tell yourself you will never give up on yourself. Remind yourself that your past failures taught you something and you have learned from them because It is in embracing failure that you can learn the most about yourself. Promise yourself that you will always be your most encouraging supporter.
Barbara Davis-Thompson, LCSW is a New York, New York private practice psychotherapist. You can contact her at email@example.com.