Confession: I used to have really low self esteem.
I used to think I was a total loser. A worthless piece of shit. A screw-up who couldn’t get anything right.
Broken. Disgusting. Weak. Incapable.
And everyone else in the world – every single one of the seven billion – was worth more than I was. Everyone else deserved a good life, but I deserved to suffer. Everyone else’s imperfections deserved to be forgiven, but not mine.
The way I used to talk to myself was so horrible, I now cringe when I think about it.
I don’t talk to myself like that anymore.
Now I think I’m kinda cool. 🙂 I’m really good at some things, and not so good at other things, and I’m ok with that.
I’m thoroughly ok with who I am – strengths and weaknesses and everything in between. Even on the days when I’m not overflowing with the loving feeling, I’m able to at least accept myself.
If you are not there yet – if you struggle with low self esteem – I really want to share with you the tricks that have helped me to learn to love myself, because life is a whole lot sweeter when you do. And I already know for sure that you are an AWESOME person who deserves to feel loved! 🙂
So here are the seven things that have helped me to ditch the self hatred and start liking myself better:
1. Figure Out What Makes You Happy And Start Doing It
Guess what? It’s really difficult (maybe even impossible?) to be happy and hate yourself at the same time. So one round-about way of learning to like yourself more is to focus on figuring out what makes you tick and bringing more happiness into your life.
Going on a quest to find happiness will help in two ways:
First, when you are busy enjoying yourself, it will leave you less time for brooding.
And second, what makes you happy is often related to your natural strengths and talents. When you discover what you are naturally good at and start doing it, you will feel proud of yourself and receive an authentic self esteem boost.
If you need help getting started, check out some of these articles:
Related: 10 Questions To Find Your Passion
Related: How To Make Your Brain Happy
2. Decide What Your Values Are And Work On Bringing Your Life Into Alignment With Them
Another tactic for increased self love is to work on detaching your opinion of yourself from the opinions that other people might have of you (whether real or imagined).
The fact is that you will never be able to please everyone no matter how hard you try. So you might as well quit caring so much and focus on doing what YOU think is right.
What are YOUR values? What are YOUR preferences? What kind of life do YOU want to lead?
When you really think about these things thoroughly and try to live accordingly, you will become so confident that you are doing the right thing for YOU, that A) you will love yourself for it and B) whatever other people think will become much less important.
I know it’s easy to say “just quit caring” and I would be lying if I said I never give any thought to what other people think anymore. But once I became confident that I was on the right path in life for me, I no longer let other people’s opinions drive my choices. And I started liking myself a whole lot better for doing what feels right to me. 🙂
3. Consider The Credibility Of Whoever It Is That Made You Feel Unworthy
The negative thoughts you have of yourself have probably been there for a long time. You might not even remember a time when you didn’t have them. But babies aren’t born with low self esteem. Somewhere in your past, there is an asshole who broke the self image you were building as a child. They shattered it at a time when you were too young and too defenseless to protect it. And when you tried to rebuild it, it came out all wonky.
Who was it? Who broke you? Who taught you that you were unworthy?
Now try to be as grown-up objective as you can and think about that person. Is that person’s opinion worth taking into account? Is that person capable of making an accurate judgment? Is that person kind? Considerate? Thoughtful? Intelligent?
Or is that person someone who is even more broken and lost than you are? Someone who is taking their pain and anger out on you?
I’m guessing the latter.
4. Realize That Other People’s Judgments Are A Reflection Of Them More Than They Are A Reflection Of You
It’s one thing to separate your opinion of yourself from the opinion of abusive people you may have encountered in your past, but it’s important to go even further and learn to take EVERYONE ELSE’S opinions and judgments with a grain of salt. Even people you love and who love you back.
The thing is… We are ALL biased in some way. We all perceive things through the lens of our own unique experiences. We all have different priorities and preferences. Whenever someone shares their point of view, it’s exactly that: their point of view, filtered through whoever they are as a person.
You need to build an imaginary wall around yourself that protects you from other people’s judgments. Whenever someone knocks at that wall trying to offer their judgment, you get to decide whether to let that judgment in. You get to decide to what extent that person’s opinion matters to you and to what extent you agree with it.
Whenever you feel judged by someone, you might want to borrow these guidelines I have set for myself:
- Never take just one person’s opinion as absolute truth without considering that person’s bias and where that person is coming from.
- Seek multiple perspectives. You can even do this on your own by creating counter arguments to whatever has been said.
- You are responsible for creating your own truth. Nobody knows you as well as you do. Nobody understands you as well as you do. Nobody knows what you need and what is best for you as well as you do.
- Your opinion is just as valuable as everyone else’s.
- You are allowed to judge people back!
5. Let Go Of People Who Are Not Capable Of Appreciating You For Who You Are
You can build a wall to protect yourself from other people’s judgments, but if some lovelies in your life are just hell bent on crashing through that wall, it might be best to just minimize time spent with them and turn your attention to people who are capable of appreciating you for who you are. The negative thoughts you have of yourself will lose their steam if you are surrounded by people who love you for you and who show it!
When I choose who I want to spend time with, my decision rule is this: Can I say whatever pops in my head or do I need to filter? I’m super sensitive to other people’s feelings and I can tell very quickly whether the other person will get me or whether being my authentic self will make the other person uncomfortable. As soon as I notice myself starting to self censor, I take it as a sign that that person is not meant to be in my tribe.
6. Notice All The Ways You Are Loved By Other People
Eventually, I hope you’ll get to a place where you have so much love for yourself that it really truly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. But in my experience, that place can’t be reached overnight. 😉
So in the meantime, taking note of all the ways you are loved by other people might give you an extra boost. At least it did that for me. According to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts*, there are five love languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
My primary love language is quality time, and before I read The 5 Love Languages, the only time I felt loved was when someone would spend quality time with me. Quality time is still the best way to make me feel warm and fuzzy, but realizing how people in my life were trying to show me love using some of the other love languages definitely didn’t hurt. As in, “maybe I’m a little bit lovable after all?”
7. Start Challenging Your Inner Critic
I would be lying if I told you that I never have negative thoughts about myself anymore. I do. All the time.
The difference is that I no longer believe them automatically. When my inner critic – that negative voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough – starts berating me, I now challenge it.
I talk back.
And that’s what I want you to do too.
Just. Talk. Back.
Start noticing when your inner critic makes an appearance – maybe even write down what it’s saying. Then create a counter argument. Imagine a support system whose only purpose is to defend you against the inner critic. What would a best friend say in your defense? What would someone who loves you unconditionally say? How would they encourage you?
And don’t do this just once right after reading this article. 😉 Do it over and over and over until the encouraging thoughts become the automatic ones.
Let your inner support system be louder than your inner critic.
Related: How To Be Your Own Therapist
What do you think? Do you think you’ll try any of these strategies or do you have other ones I might have missed? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂
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