“Mom, you can cook a mean roast beef dinner, and you’re a pretty good listener. But, your stomach is big and you could lose a few pounds in your butt too. Oh, and your jokes aren’t that funny either, and everyone at work probably thinks you’re not very smart. And I think I’ll tell you this every single day, just to remind you in case you forget”.
How crazy does this statement sound? What type of person would ever speak to their mother that way, or ANYONE for that matter? Well, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of us – like 98% of us wouldn’t. So, if we wouldn’t speak that way to the people we love, why in the world do we speak that way to ourselves on a DAILY basis? Well, if you’re someone who struggles with negative self talk, low self esteem, and not a whole lot of self love, you aren’t alone. In fact, research has demonstrated that up to 85% of us have low self esteem, and I’m here to help you change that.
To begin, I’ll quickly explain why I decided to write a blog post on this topic. I have come across a ton of articles that cover a variety of topics relating to relationship building. Many of these subjects are specific to marriages, parent-child relationships, or ones pertaining to the work place. There is a great deal of advice on how to develop and maintain healthy, successful relationships with OTHER people. However, what I realized is that there is a lack of information on how to have a successful relationship with yourself. And the truth is, self love (or lack there of) is complex, and it doesn’t always come naturally. In fact, I think it’s one of the biggest problems that we have in society today – the lack of respect, love, and confidence that we have in ourselves.
I’m a firm believer that the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of them all, as it sets the tone for every other relationship that you have in life. And unfortunately, many of us find ourselves feeling stuck in this department.
So, let me ask you this… do you find loving yourself difficult? Do you spend a great deal of time being self critical? Do you focus your attention on all of the things you feel you “lack” (think: physical apperance, skills, mannerisms) versus the aspects of you that make you unique and beautiful? I also want you to think about how much energy you invest in negatively speaking and thinking about yourself.
And now, think: What would happen if instead, you invested that energy into shifting your thoughts and actions to improve the relationship that you have with yourself? I can promise you that this would be truly transformative in every area of your life.
To get started, I have put together a list of my go-to suggestions on how to STOP with the self criticism and START having a healthier relationship with yourself, and they are as follows:
Be Mindful In How You Speak TO And ABOUT Yourself
Research shows that we think up to 70,000 thoughts per day. If the vast majority of the thoughts relating to yourself are negative in nature, it’s no wonder you are lacking in the self love department. See, the mind is a funny thing, and it likes to believe EVERYTHING we tell it. The more often you tell your mind something, the more engrained that thought becomes, and I’m guessing you’ve been telling it a lot of unhealthy things for a LONG time. Things like “I’m fat” or “I’m not a good mom/friend/employee (fill in the blank)”, or how about “I don’t think I’m smart enough”. All of these ideas that you communicate to yourself on a regular basis become your truth. This is how you start to define yourself, and you begin to believe it – even if its untrue to everyone else. Bottom line: How we speak TO and ABOUT ourselves directly relates to how we FEEL about ourselves.
So, I challenge you STARTING TODAY to be mindful of how you speak to yourself throughout the day, and nip the negative self talk in the bud. When you catch yourself being critical, immediately replace that statement with something about yourself that you appreciate. It may seem awkward at first, and it may even feel like you’re lying to yourself a little bit, but once you begin being kind to yourself on a regular basis and pointing out the qualities in yourself that you love (or at least, like) your brain will slowly begin to believe it. This takes practice and conscious effort. However, shifting the way you speak to yourself will help put a stop on the negative thought patterns you have.
Start Appreciating Your Body
When I had a near death experience, my life transformed. One of the biggest lessons I learned through that experience is that my body is incredibly resilient and strong. I also realized that often times we are too focused on how our bodies LOOK, versus how powerful they are on the inside.
If you are someone who struggles with self esteem – someone who thinks they aren’t pretty enough, thin enough, or (the list goes on), I want you to begin paying more attention to how amazing your body is and all that it’s capable of doing for you. Find gratitude in the power of your body and its ability to heal you and work for you on a moment by moment basis. Begin feeding your body the foods it needs to function optimally – pay less attention to fad diets and more attention to fueling it with proper nutrition. Treat your body as if you love it, and focus your energy on appreciating it for what it does, rather than what it looks like. Once you shift how you view your body, your self esteem relating to your body image will begin to change for the better.
Leave Your Past Mistakes In The Past
Sometimes letting go of our past mistakes is incredibly hard. We often carry a great deal of guilt around with us about the choices we once made, and this guilt begins to eat away at the relationship we have with ourselves and with others. Sometimes it takes a great deal of work to begin leaving your past in the past. For some, therapy is incredibly helpful and for others, it means choosing every day to consciously move forward. You need to find a method that you feel will work for you, but if you remain consumed in your past mistakes, you will find it extremely difficult to love and appreciate yourself in the present.
Communicating to yourself that your past doesn’t define you and trying to be proactive in viewing your past mistakes as lessons will help free you from the guilt and sadness that you carry with you. This is a huge step in developing a better relationship with yourself.
Be Clear About The Person You Want To Be
I think it’s very important to invest energy in the things about yourself that you CAN change (and want to change) and worry less about the things you can’t. Do you want to be a more patient person? Do you want to develop skills in a certain area? Do you want to be a healthier individual? If so, then begin making these changes today. Seek out the expertise, advice, and support that you need to make these positive changes, and work on it daily.
You have the power to shape the person that you are, and personal growth is an important part of developing more self love. No one is perfect, and it’s important to appreciate your imperfections. With that said, always be open to self development and committing yourself to being the best version of YOU (flaws and all)! For more suggestions on being the best version of you, read my 5 Ways To Find Lasting Inner Happiness blog post!
Start Putting Yourself First
Are you the type of person who always puts other peoples’ happiness before your own? If this sounds like you, I want you to begin being more deliberate in taking care of yourself. This doesn’t mean I want you to be selfish. This means that I want you to invest energy in making time for yourself – taking care of your body, mind and spirit. Give yourself permission to say “no” when you need to. Ask people for help when you need it. Become more aware of your “triggers” (the things that stress you out and makes you feel rotten). Also become more aware of your interests – do things that bring you joy and happiness on a regular basis.
Often times, when we don’t have a great deal of self love, we also seem to have a lot of guilt. Guilt about wanting to be perfect, and wanting to be everything for everyone. Instead, try and start being everything to yourself, and the other relationships in your life will begin to fall into place. So, starting today, work on taking care of your own needs first.
But, in the end REMEMBER:
You owe yourself the love you freely give to others on a regular basis, When you begin to see that you are deserving and worthy of this, your life will change. Take that step today.