5 Steps to Loving Yourself More
I’ll be honest, for FOUR decades I didn’t have the best relationship with myself. The negative self-talk started at a very young age and even now, in my 50s, I have to catch myself and deflect the occasional “you’re not smart enough to have your own business” or “you look so old—all those years of sunning and slathering on baby oil is catching up with you.” I was so hard on myself that I attracted more of “that” in my life in the form of crappy relationships and jobs where I wasn’t valued. It makes sense since I didn’t value myself. It wasn’t until I started to consciously change my thoughts and words that my outer world started to reflect my new, internal way of viewing myself.
We’ve all heard a version of “you would never talk to a friend that way so why do you talk to yourself that way?” Let’s face it—in our society we’re wired for negativity, comparing ourselves to others and playing down our gifts. I’ve worked with several people who hated doing their yearly self-assessment as they loathed tooting their own horn. So how do we flip the script? How can we show ourselves more love in a way that doesn’t make us cringe? It takes some time and practice, but below are 5 tips that have helped me over the last 10 years.
- Start monitoring your negative self-talk. Keep a notebook or notecard handy and each time you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative, make a tick mark. Then, replace the negative statement with something positive. It may feel a bit cumbersome in the beginning, but soon you’ll begin to catch yourself faster. Eventually you’ll create new connections in that noggin of yours and find yourself automatically reaching for positive statements.
- Have conversations with your inner child. Ok, this may seem weird to some of you, but hear me out. Have you ever watched a child being yelled at in public and you just want to give the kid a hug? Nobody wants to see a child suffer. Each of us has that inner child who just needs a hug! There are a couple of ways to go about this. You can either write a letter to your inner child or you can visualize meeting your inner child, making that part of yourself feel loved and safe. What would you say to him/her? What do they need to hear? I often picture myself at age 6. I get fairly detailed and notice what I’m wearing, how my hair looks, what my surroundings look like. You can pick any age you like. You can even do the same thing with your 21-year old self. It doesn’t really matter. Pick an event from your past where you had a rough time and comfort that version of you. Don’t be alarmed if this exercise makes you emotional. Tears are a sign of release. You’re purging some emotional goo.
- Practice self-care. So many of us treat ourselves last. We have no qualms about spending money and time on others and then get stingy when it comes to ourselves. If it’s in the budget, get a regular massage or take a class. Take a trip. Do whatever makes YOU feel good. If money is tight, you can still do things to show yourself some love. Indulge in a long hot bath or an afternoon nap. Take a break and curl up with a good book (or even bad tv). Take a long walk in nature. Treat yourself to a coffee, latte, or tea. The key is to do something that is completely for you. Remember it’s not selfish to love yourself. In fact, it’s one of the keys to a happy, productive life.
- Evaluate your relationships. This can be a tough one. It’s no secret that there are people in your life who lift you up and support you, and there are people who drag you down and drain every last bit of your precious energy. I’ll bet someone immediately popped into your head in each category. Cut ties or severely limit your time with the people who bring you down. Like pruning a rose bush, by cutting back the negativity in your life, you allow other parts of your life to bloom more fully. Trust me—I know how hard this can be. I allowed “energy vampires” to keep me down for far too long. But once you start this process, the proverbial albatross around your neck will begin to slip away.
- Cure your “comparison-itis.” Nothing, and I mean nothing, can sap the tree of self-love like comparing yourself to others. Since the beginning of time, humans have compared themselves to others. It’s natural. But what we’re seeing today is NOT natural. It’s keeping up with the Jones (or the Kardashians), but on steroids. Social media, filters, reality tv—it all has its place and can be really fun. But the flip side is that, more than ever before, people are feeling incredibly bad about themselves. It’s important to keep in mind we all have our own journey. Keep your eyes on your own paper, so to speak. Remember: if Jane or Jack have become incredibly successful, that in no way means that YOU can’t be successful. You have your own gifts, your own glitter. Spread it (or spill it) with abandon!
We only have one life (or at least one life in this particular body). I’m only going to be Carol Campos ONE time. And guess what? She’s pretty damned FABULOUS. So are you! Love yourself up every chance you get. If ever there was a love worth investing time and energy into, it’s the amazing person you see in the mirror.