This week I’ve been emphasizing the idea of loving yourself and what exactly that means. Per the podcast I posted on Facebook & Instagram from Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, I like how she said “love is not a feeling, but a choice and an action.” It’s not about sitting around waiting to feel that love for yourself, it’s about taking steps to treat yourself like you would a loved one. Some of my favorite take-aways from the podcast were:
- Get rid of negative talk. Don’t ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a best friend or even to your child
- Be your own biggest fan and supporter
- Take care of your mind and body
- Make choices that show your commitment to your own well being. Set boundaries with people when needed.
- Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
I’ll be posting another podcast later this week from Lewis Howes where he interviews Emily Skye, a fitness professional who is gorgeous, has a great physique and modeled starting at a young age. From the outside looking in most would assume Emily was confident and secure in who she was, but she has some incredible stories of her insecurities, hardships, and feelings of being an outcast.
For me personally, I don’t have any big reason for not loving myself when I was younger, but I really didn’t. My family couldn’t afford any luxuries growing up, but I never went hungry and always had my sister’s hand-me-downs on my back 😉 I was a very shy child and extremely sensitive from the beginning. I had to wear a patch and glasses at a really young age and was one of the lucky kids who had headgear. I always had a lot of friends though, but I was far from attractive and always felt incredibly ugly and insecure. I was the last of my friends to get her first kiss and to have an actual boyfriend, and sadly neither of those happened until I started drinking at age 18! Once I got a taste of that confidence alcohol provided me with I went full force with it. I drank HARD in college and went from one toxic “mini” relationship to another. They never lasted long, but completely devastated me every time they ended. I was an emotional mess and continued to use alcohol as my vehicle for seeking out love and acceptance from others instead of learning to love myself. I was toxic to my body with the amount of alcohol I drank, toxic to my mind and soul with the “relationships” I clung onto and forced into argument after argument, I was toxic to myself and others with my words when I drank, and I was an emotional roller coaster. I felt guilt and shame after a night of drinking even if I didn’t do or say anything bad; I just started associating that feeling with drinking. I truly believed that if I found a guy to love me then I would be happy, but no one could love me when I disliked myself so deeply. I used to physically run from my life (moved to Italy, moved to Korea, moved to Denver), but SURPRISE, my life kept following me. You can’t exactly move away from yourself, just doesn’t work. I never put myself in situations where I might fail, which of course just held me back. I could tell you story after story of my toxic behavior, but I’m not ready to open up that much in such a public forum. 🙂
So, how did I learn to love myself? I don’t have an exact formula, but I do remember having an “Aha moment” in December of 2008. I finally saw how I created the toxic relationships, was not nice to guys who were nice to me, and how I was never satisfied with any aspect of my life even though I had a good job, great friends, great family, and was fit and active (drinking subsided a bit by this time). That New Year I made a resolution to stop dating and just figure me out. I stopped worrying about finding a boyfriend, stopped the negative talk to myself, started hanging out with friends more, getting into hobbies more, and just living life. It wasn’t an overnight process, but, I’ll tell you that in July 2009 I started dating my now husband and I was much more confident and liking myself by then, but even that was far from where I am now (and even now I still have work to do). Another “Aha moment” happened after I had children. My son has been shy, insecure and challenging from day 1. It was how I realized that he, and I, were literally born that way. This was a huge eye opener for me, because for a long time I tried to dig for the “reason” why I was so insecure and tried to put the blame on others (my mom, my sister, ex boyfriends). When I realized there was no one to blame and that I am the way I am just because that’s who I am it really helped me let go of a lot of harsh feelings and put the ball back in my court. I figured out that I could either wallow in negative feelings of blame OR I could take action and start acknowledging my flaws and working to improve upon them. Through that journey of letting go and coming to even more realizations along the way, I have learned to love myself and treat myself with love and I feel much happier, lighter and healthier. This is just my personal journey; everyone’s will obviously be different.
I hope through the podcasts (which address the issue much more eloquently than I do), and other resources (books, talks with loved ones, self reflection, counseling, medication…whatever you need to do for you) everyone is able to learn to love themselves. Start with being kind to you and talking to yourself “like you would talk to a beloved child” (Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby).