I will never forget the day I was told I had to learn how to love myself. It came like thunder. Loving myself? Wasn’t that supposed to be selfish? I couldn’t really say I had a good relationship with myself at that time. I had no clue about who I was and what I really wanted in life. I didn’t know how to make powerful choices and live my life with no apologies. In other words, I was living as a victim of my circumstances, a prisoner of what other people thought about me. I needed everyone to like me, to approve of me, so I could feel loved, valued and appreciated. Nothing I was doing seemed perfect to me. I always had to do more and achieve more in order to feel good about myself. I was taking for granted all my achievements and success. Even the smallest mistake would be blown into a disaster inside of my head – another “good” reason for telling myself: “I’m not good enough”.
This part of me is left in the past. It took some time and a lot of inner work to let go of self-criticism. The moment I started to like myself was a big shift. Today I can look in the mirror and tell myself: “I love you exactly the way you are”. What a great sense of freedom from the harsh bondage of perfectionism!
Most of my clients come to coaching as if they were broken, wanting to fix themselves. While awareness of our limitations is a good thing, it becomes a disaster if at the same time we live disconnected from our human magnificence.
If “I am not good enough” is part of your self-talk repertoire, if you struggle with the need for perfection, if you attach to the outcome of your goals in order to feel good about yourself, if there are parts of your body you would happily replace today (if only you could), if you constantly need validation and approval of others, if you’re pleasing people in order for them to like you, if you identify your worth with how well you do things in life, if you’re too hard on yourself when you make a mistake…then this is for you!
What is the difference between self-esteem, self-confidence and self-compassion?
Your Self-esteem refers to how you generally feel about yourself and the overall image you associate with yourself (I am beautiful, I am ugly, I am stupid, I am smart etc.)
Your Self-confidence is related to how you feel about your abilities and how capable you see yourself of doing certain things or handling different situations (I can do this, I’ll never make it, This is too hard, etc.)
Self-compassion is about being ok with who you are and loving yourself unconditionally, regardless of whether you can or cannot perform certain tasks and always treating yourself with kindness, dignity, and respect.
This is not about getting stuck in your comfort zone and not being willing to grow. It is about accepting the truth of who you are and, to begin with, knowing that you are human.
Here are 10 different points for you to consider to build a better relationship with yourself and become your best friend:
- Start paying attention to your inner voice
We all have an inner voice inside ourselves telling us different things about whom we think we are. Have you ever heard it telling you: “I’m so stupid”, “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do anything right”, “I can’t do that”, “Me again”? These sabotaging thoughts are not the ultimate truth. They are nothing but opinions, phrases in the story we’ve been telling ourselves.
Stop belittling yourself and never make jokes about yourself. Leave it to the comedians on stage. The way others treat you will often mirror the way you are treating yourself because no one can hurt you or depress you unless you allow it. Respect yourself and never put yourself down, so others can feel good about themselves.
2. “Would I say that to a friend?” filter
Each time you find yourself thinking a negative, sabotaging thought, stop for a second and ask yourself: Would I tell that to a friend? I bet you wouldn’t. Then why would you tell that to yourself?
3. Self-love is a must
We often think the more we give to others, the more love we’ll get back. I once had a client who told me: “I’ve been giving so much that I have nothing more to give!” Being kind to others and loving them is a solid proof of compassion. But if you want to have enough to give, make sure you fill up your tank first. You wouldn’t want to get empty.
4. Healthy boundaries
Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how to use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept. So don’t go shopping with someone unless you really want to. Don’t be a people pleaser. Learn to say “no” without offending anyone. Your life is about you and you can’t disappoint anyone. People disappoint themselves by the expectations they set on who they want you to be or what they want you to do. It’s always their story, not yours.
5. You have the right to make mistakes
…because you are human. Look at your mistakes as part of your learning process. Stop criticizing or blaming yourself. A confident woman making mistakes knows there’s more space for her to grow. Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. We never lose.
6. You are not your past
Your past is part of you but it doesn’t define you. Reframe it and forgive yourself, like you would forgive others. Consider your experiences, including the “bad” ones, as an opportunity for growth. This is how you become wiser and stronger. Shift your perspective, look for the good in the bad and the gain in the pain. Think everything happens for you, not to you.
7. Stay away from perfection
Learn to be ok with “good enough”. Set challenging but attainable goals and have realistic expectations on yourself. Aiming high is ok while perfection is “pure fiction”. It doesn’t exist.
8. Always do your best
Know you cannot be the same each and every minute of your life. We all have good and bad days. If you’re ill or tired, your ability to focus and perform will decrease. That’s also human. You’ll never look back with regrets the moment you know you did the best you knew and the best you could.
9. Stop competing against yourself
Do you also feel like more and more people are always in a hurry? That could even be your case. It feels like there’s never enough time for you to do what you want. Since an early age, we’ve been taught to identify our own value based on how well we do things in life. Go and get results, do more, get more, achieve more! Sometimes I wonder which kind of race we are running.
Take this example:
“Dad, the contest was tough but I finally made it. I ended up second!
Well, great…and what was wrong with the first place?”
We’ve learned life has to be a fight or a competition! No wonder so many people are used to always comparing themselves to others in order to find their own worth. The need to compete is just ego’s scream for self-validation. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone, not even to you. Striving to improve yourself can turn into an endless race where your life becomes a battle against you. Not competing against yourself is not about getting stuck in your comfort zone and not being willing to grow. But if you’re beating yourself up, always striving to outdo, improve or upgrade you, you’ll always feel broken.
10. Treat yourself as if you were someone you really liked
Appreciate, respect and cherish yourself. Take care of yourself and treat yourself well. Wear the nice shoes – don’t wait for “special occasion”. Use the nice towels – don’t keep them for guests. Loving yourself is not selfish, it is necessary. Loving others starts with loving ourselves. And you can never feel lonely again when you start liking the person you’re alone with. Always be there for yourself, in the same way you would be there for your best friend.
I want you to know it is ok to be you. It is your perfect imperfections that make you special and unique. Be authentic. Don’t be a copy of someone else. You are always a valuable human being, not because anyone else says so, but because you decide to believe it. Be your own kind of beauty. Stay true to your feelings, opinions, thoughts and emotions. Live your own life. It is your birthright to be happy. Build your own dream. Because you are amazing, just the way you are!
And now, I would like to hear from you. Is there anything that sounds familiar, or new, or strange? Have you gained any new perspectives after reading this post?
Feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments below. I’d love to know!
And if you know other women who might benefit from this information, please share. Thank you.
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- Posted by Sara Fabian
- On March 24, 2018