Loving yourself isn’t a one time event, it’s an ongoing progress. Which is why it saddens me to see that progress step back every time someone deflects a compliment or excessively apologies for how “bad” they are at something. Your self-perception gets chipped away every time you participate in negative self-talk, every nice compliment or small confident boosting win gets shadowed by the self-deprecation. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, the perfectly painted wall can have one small smudge on it and we will focus on that one spot. Flaws have more impact on us, they draw our attention in and so it’s incredibly important to fight against that instinctual urge. So if you are struggling with self-love, here are my 5 best tips to make it easier.
1. Cut Out The Negativity
I’ve never loved someone I didn’t like first, have you? The first step to loving yourself is liking yourself and I think that starts with self-positivity. Before you attempt that however, It’s very important to make sure you aren’t in an environment that’s going to make being positive about yourself a struggle. Jim Rohn famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with” and although I don’t even spend time with 5 people, I would agree that our environment affects us more than we’d like to believe. Our surroundings can greatly influence how we act. I’m all too familiar (as someone who’s productivity includes a lot of sitting) with family and friends informing me at how “all I do is sit at my computer all day” and beliefs like that set people up for failure.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have any critics but the people you are surrounded by should be supportive and want you to succeed. Telling you sceptically “good look with that” when you are talking about a new business venture at the dinner table is doing the opposite of wanting you to succeed. The people you keep closest should be positive people. Blood ties are not things that should be used to justify cruel behavior. Just because “they’re family” and we love them does not mean they should make us unhappy. If your family is truly causing you distress and being incredibly negative about your progress, I’d encourage you to inform them or even cut them out of your life. At least make sure you don’t discuss your life progress with family members who are incredibly judgmental or negative. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and grow with, tell those people how your life is going.
2. Keep Your Head Voice in Check
If others talked to you the way your head voice talks to you, would you like them? I’d venture to say quite the opposite. It’s no wonder so many struggle with self-confidence and self-love if we’re taught to think talking to ourselves in self-deprecating way is normal. The first step to loving yourself is actually liking yourself, and you won’t like anyone who talks crap about you. So pay attention to when you put yourself down. if you’ve ever said anything along the lines of ‘I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached to my body’ you are probably harboring limiting beliefs. Listen very closely to your head voice, when you notice it being negative toward you come up with a new response. If you mess up and think ‘ugh, I f**d it up again’ replace that with ‘how can I learn from this?’.
Our thoughts turn into our beliefs that turn into our actions. Your thoughts impact what you actually do in your life. If Mary thinks she bad with computers then she’ll give up in frustration at the first sign of trouble. Because Mary tells herself ‘I’m just not good with computers’ that remains permanently true so long as she believes it. Step one to being positive about yourself is not undoing your positivity with limiting beliefs. Next time Mary asks for someone to help her with technology she should ask them to show her how. Replace ‘I’m just not good’ with ‘I should learn more about it’. If every time you buy Ikea furniture you invite someone around to build it for you (yeah, I see you) then ask them to show you or build it with them next time.
5. Repeat Positive Affirmations
When your thoughts impact your actions, they become habits. Being negative about yourself can be a deeply rooted habit for some and affirmations are a way of actively building the habit of self-love. No, you don’t have to look yourself in the mirror and give a pep talk or hug yourself. At the same time, realize the belief that these things are “corny” is limiting you from trying them. Are you honestly wuss enough to say that looking a little crazy isn’t worth the risk of feeling better?
It’s important that you don’t just rattle of nonsense. Choose your own affirmations instead of copying ones that are so cheesy, you cringe saying them aloud. You have to really want it and actually feel it for it to work – if your affirmation doesn’t stir your emotions, look for another one. If you lack body confidence then check yourself out in the mirror and think good thoughts. If you want to be successful and make money then tell yourself that money is easy to make, then take action with that belief. If you want boosted self-esteem tell yourself that you are capable every day. Pick whatever thing you want to feel good about or achieve an make it an affirmation.
4. Quit Comparing Yourself
Comparing yourself to others will only do harm. There are so many social effects that occur when you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others. Often you will compare your weakness to someone else’s strength,this creates an unfair comparison that puts you down. Realize that you are the only you there is, comparing strength to strength with others is pointless; there will always be those better and those worse. All comparison will merit you is an inflated or deflated ego; both of which are bad for you. One makes you resent others and the other could make you criticize those you deem lesser and make others resent you.
Stop yourself. Once you realize what comparisons you are making just have a quick pause. Don’t make yourself feel bad for the comparison – just acknowledge the thought and change focus to something more positive. Count what you have, not what you don’t. Remember that it’s about progress not perfection, look forward and focus on the steps you are taking toward what you want to achieve. Progress is not linear, the race you’re running has no first place, so don’t look around at what others are doing, don’t focus on your rank compared to others. Keep your eyes on where you want to go and enjoy the journey.
5. Let Others Say Nice Things
I see two things go wrong with compliments, the first is when they’re thrown round as if obligatory. I call this the compliment circle jerk. I was in the bathroom of a club in Newcastle and when I came out of the stall I witnessed an encounter between two women. The first said “Oh my god I love your tattoos” and the second received this with “Aww thank you” then proceeded to look the first girl up and down, paused and then returned with “I love your, uh… shoes!”. When you are complimented you do not have to give one back. When we force ourselves so hard to return a compliment that we actually have to think on it, that compliment doesn’t mean much.
The second thing that goes wrong with compliments is when someone brushes it off. Nothing screams low self-esteem than someone who denies a compliment or plays it down. Stop yourself from saying “Oh this old thing?” or “No I’m not” whenever someone compliments you. Don’t downplay it. When someone compliments you they are sharing how you impacted them. They aren’t asking if you agree. Your validation should already come from yourself and your own positivity but when someone plucks up the courage to share their recognition of you, it’s a gift. So say thank you. The people who are comfortable at accepting compliments are also more comfortable to give them.