If someone asked you to name all of the things you love, how long would it take you to name yourself? 100 people were surveyed and asked that very question, “Name all of the things you love”. People listed family member, pets, their career, their home, friends, sports teams, and even food (in my mind, cheese is life) but, not one person put themselves on that list. Why is it so hard to love ourselves?
How often do you look in the mirror and say, “I look good but…”? How often does someone compliment your success and you respond, “oh it’s no big deal. It’s not like I did ____”. How many times has someone said, “Congratulation on 90 days clean and sober” and you respond, “Well I’ve relapsed before so”. Too often we find it difficult to love ourselves because we are constantly focusing on our perceived flaws and failures. While loving yourself isn’t always easy, here are a few ways to begin the process.
Focus on the positives
It’s easy to make a list of everything you want to change to be happy. Instead, make a list of everything you love about your life and yourself. You may dislike your furniture but, you are happy to have a place to call home. You may dislike your job but, you love your coworkers and some of the fun times you have with them while at work. When you put the positives at the forefront of your mind, it gets easier to love yourself.
While sitting in on treatment, I have all too often heard people say, “I’ve done a lot of bad things so, I don’t expect anyone to love me” or, “I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life so, I’m not sure God is really on my side”. In focusing on the past, you rob yourself of who you have chosen to become today. You can’t change the past but, you can make your own future. That future should be one of joy and happiness. It should be a future you are proud of. Your past can only define you if you let it.
Boundaries are something many people struggle with. You think if you say no to someone, that makes you selfish. In reality, setting boundaries and saying no to things that can harm you physically, emotionally, or spiritually, is the greatest form of self-love. You are choosing to put your happiness first. You are choosing to let others know that you value yourself and your happiness is just as important as theirs.
Surround yourself with great people
Anyone that makes you feel any less than amazing does not deserve to be in your life. Having toxic people around will only destroy your self-worth. You should surround yourself with those that exude positivity and give you endless encouragement. In doing so, you are telling yourself, “I am a great person and I deserve to feel love every day!”
Treat others with love and respect
One day I was talking with a friend. She was going to a family party and was dreading having to see an aunt that she had heard was speaking unkindly of her to other family members. She had told me she wanted to get there before the aunt to dispel any of the gossip she may spread. I responded, “Why do that? Why don’t you go there, enjoy yourself, and when you see her, go up to her and say hello and be kind?” She looked at me completely puzzled and said: “Why would I be nice to her when I know she was talking about me.” I said, “Don’t let it bother you or your time at the party. Be kind and have fun. If she wants to continue to speak ill of you, that’s her problem. She’ll look like the jerk.”
We all know the saying if you want to be treated well, treat others well. If they don’t do so in return, that is their issue. Why make yourself look bad in trying to do the same to others? Why waste your energy being upset, mad or getting revenge? Instead, be the love you want to receive and you will feel 10 times better.
Celebrate your wins
Would you only celebrate your 30th birthday? What about your 26th, 27th, 28th, or 29th? Those are all important! It’s the same in recovery. Your 2nd day is just as important as your 2nd year! No victory is too small. Everything that you work for to make happen is a victory and should make you feel great about who you are and what you have accomplished.
Repeat these words out loud: I am fantastic! I am amazing! I am an incredible person and my life is full of opportunities and possibilities. I am worth it. I deserve to surround myself with those who love and appreciate me. And most of all, I deserve to love myself!