Tips towards creating healthy self-love and self-respect
At Seventeen, by Janis Ian is a song I remember vividly from my youth. It is depressing, not only because it reveals my age, but also because it is a microcosm of the world as it is, pretty much. The first verse goes: I learned the truth at seventeen/ That love was meant for beauty queens / And high school girls with clear skinned smiles / Who married young and then retired…At seventeen I learned the truth…
Sadly, it is descriptive of a harsh socio-cultural-emotional reality: the beautiful generally live a charmed life, loved by a special someone, while the un-beautiful stereotypically lead the life of the lonely wallflower.
Those 3 special words: I love ME!
We must learn OUR OWN beauty and self-worth. Love who we are. “I LOVE ME!” The words may seem alien to you, and may take a while to roll off your tongue, but say them out loud; with feeling! We all too often speak negative words about ourselves, that we believe our own negativity and become our own biggest critics: “I’m so fat,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never make it,” “I look awful,” “I’ll never be happy,” “I’ll never get that job / be rich/ be successful,” are among the top ego-smashers we tell ourselves.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me
Loving yourself is mainly having self-respect, and this is the first step to creating love in your own life to share with others. When you expect love from an outside source, and someone or something does not fulfill this expectation, this makes you feel worse than before; in a vicious cycle that only loving and respecting yourself can break. Understanding the effects of loving yourself will heighten your ability to love others.
Healthy self-respect can be cultivated by changing your self-view and your self-talk. Easier said than done, admittedly, but well-worth the effort. Don’t be afraid to seek out help for issues you feel you cannot change on your own: enlist the services of a counselor, life coach or therapist where needed.
However, we must also learn to take responsibility for ourselves, and stop relying on others to float our boat.
No more self-abandonment
Best-selling author and relationship expert Margaret Paul has this to say about it: “Expecting others to make you feel loved while you are abandoning yourself will never lead to feeling loved and lovable. When you learn to take responsibility for yourself emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, organizationally and relationally, then you will feel loved and lovable. Taking responsibility for loving yourself fills your heart with love, which you can then share with others. Sharing love is the most fulfilling experience in life, but you need to be filled with love in order to have love to share. Learning to love yourself is what fills you with love.”
Dr. Paul shares nine ways to love yourself, which begins with loving – as opposed to abandoning – your inner child:
1. Listen within to your own feelings. Tune in to how YOU feel. Do not allow your inner child to feel rejected, abandoned and unloved by you.
2. Be compassionate with your feelings. Do not judge your feelings, telling yourself you are wrong for having them. Be kind, gentle, tender, understanding and accepting of your feelings, then your inner child will feel loved by you.
3. Open to learning about what your feelings are telling you. Much as an actual child feels loved when you are compassionately interested in why he or she is hurting, your inner child will feel loved when you explore what your feelings are telling you. Learn from your feelings. Painful feelings, for instance, may be telling you that you are abandoning yourself, or that someone is being unloving to you, or that a situation is not good for you. Attend to your feelings with compassion, learn what they are telling you, and then take action to fix the situation.These will make you feel loved.
4. Create a solid connection with a spiritual source of love, wisdom and comfort. Love is not a feeling generated by our mind. It comes from the heart when our heart is open to our source of love. Open yourself to learning with your higher power about loving yourself and others, and love will flow into your heart.
5. Choose to be around loving people. In your personal relationships (because you don’t always have a choice in work relationships), choose to be around caring, supportive and accepting people will make you feel loved.
6. Take loving actions for yourself around others. Speak up for yourself and do not allow others to treat you badly. Disengage from interacting with those who treat you badly. Allowing others to treat you badly sends a message to your inner child that he or she is not worth loving.
7. Take care of your body, your time, your space and your finances. You will feel loved and lovable when you feed yourself healthy food, and get exercise and adequate sleep. Do not ignore your health; doing so sends a message that you are not worth loving. Respect your own and others’ time and space; this lets you know that you are worth it. Do not overspend and put yourself in unnecessary debt, this makes your inner child feel anxious and insecure about life.
8. Find work you love. Since work takes up a big chunk of your life, find or create work that fulfills you. This is vitally important.You need to know that you are worth the effort it takes to create a sense of fulfillment in your life.
9. Create balance. All work and no play, or all play and no work, creates inner anxiety rather than inner peace. We need balance in our life to feel loved and lovable. Rest and rejuvenate. We must nurture our body and soul through activities that bring us joy.
Alone, but NOT lonely
Take steps towards loving yourself. You are worth it! Turn your situation around and resolve to love yourself; for even depressing songs remind us that “It isn’t all it seems at seventeen…”
By ANGIE DUARTE