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.