‘Learn to love yourself first instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.’
“Today I lost the respect of a few people I love and the desire to kill myself when I finally took your advice and told everyone the truth about who I really am and what I’ve decided to do with my life. In a nutshell, I’ve chosen to love and honour myself, instead of convincing others to do it for me every day.”
Those are lines right out of a live chat session I had this morning with a long time reader of ours. Although this person asked to remain anonymous, they gave me permission to share this with you, and I’m so glad they did.
Because the greatest struggle in life is the struggle to accept, embrace and love ourselves, with all of our imperfections. To be 100% honest about who we are, how we feel, and what we need. To stop discrediting ourselves for everything we aren’t, and start giving ourselves credit for everything we are. And to be aware that not everyone we love will agree with us every step of the way, and to be OK with it.
We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of others loving us, and we forget to love ourselves.
What we must realize is that our greatest task is not about discovering self-love; it’s about breaking down the walls we have built against it. When we have the courage to push through these walls – to know and embrace ourselves, despite our humanness, our flaws, and our rejections – we also open the door to connecting in more caring, empathic and intimate ways with others who are truly worth loving.
Which is why it’s time to…
Start telling yourself what you love about yourself – In your own life it’s important to know how spectacular you are. You really have to look in the mirror and be kind. Because what we see in the mirror is often what we see in the world. Our disappointment in others often reflects our disappointment in ourselves. Our acceptance of others often reflects our acceptance of ourselves. Our ability to see potential in others often reflects our ability to see potential in ourselves. Our patience with others often reflects our patience with ourselves. You get the idea – you’ve got to show yourself some love first and foremost.
Be one with what is – Something that’s really difficult, but totally worth it, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the journey of becoming your true self. The most beautiful part of this journey is simply returning to the peaceful feeling of being. This peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
Focus less on winning the approval of others – Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. And you don’t have to get permission to do it differently either. Your time on this planet is precious. As the saying goes, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” Don’t wait around for someone else to give you permission to live.
Distance yourself from those who bring you down – Being in no relationship is better than being in a wrong one. Don’t worry too much about folks who don’t worry about you. Know your worth! When you give yourself to those who disrespect you, you lose. Your friends in life should motivate, inspire and respect you. Your circle should be well rounded and supportive. Keep it tight. Quality over quantity, always.
Forgive your past self – It’s just a matter of accepting that sometimes good people like you make bad choices. It doesn’t mean you’re bad; it means you’re human. Get bored with your past; it’s over. Forgive yourself for what you think you did or didn’t do, and focus on what you will do starting now.
Start making the changes you know you need to make – Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. If you want to see changes in your life today, you’ll have to do things that you’ve never done before. Different input = different output. Move away from the things that drain you and move toward the thoughts and activities that empower and fulfill you.
Embrace the mistakes you haven’t even made yet – To be successful in the long run, you must fail sometimes. So don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all.
Show gratitude for who you are and what you have right now – No, you won’t always get what you want. And no, you won’t always be exactly where you want to be. But remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now. So use pain, frustration and inconvenience to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life.
Do something every day that makes you happy – There’s a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Life is too short. Invest in the activities you deeply care about. A good life is about making a good decision every day to do something that moves you – caring for yourself by doing things you care about. It’s a matter of realizing that there’s nothing selfish about self-care. Because we can’t give what we don’t have. You have to experience life on your terms before you can be life-giving to others.
Give yourself a fair chance to explore new ideas and opportunities – Don’t let not knowing how it’ll end keep you from beginning. When we act, uncertainty chases us out into the open where opportunity awaits.
Listen to your intuition and be honest with yourself about everything – We cannot speak with integrity about a lifestyle we are not living. We don’t need more dazzling storytellers; we need more genuine ones. Listen to that inner voice. Confidence comes from knowing that what you’re doing is right for YOU.
Believe in your abilities – All things are possible! The key is to identify what you want, claim it as part of who you are, and believe that you are worthy to have it.
Focus on writing your story, instead of reading, watching and hearing about everyone else’s – And when you catch yourself comparing your life to someone else’s, remember that people often only show their highlight reel – especially online – not their reality.
Pay close attention to your life as you’re living it – One of the greatest presents you can give yourself (and your loved ones), is to be present, every chance you get. Your life is not between the moments of your birth and death; your life is between now and your next breath. Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. So much is lost when we don’t.
Loosen up and be a little less serious at times – All self-misery has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in taking life too seriously. If you take everything too seriously, especially yourself, you’ll wind up fearing every new step you take. Loosen up and laugh it off when you can – especially when things don’t go as planned. People with a good sense of humour have a better sense of life.
Go out of your way to be loving and kind to others too – Almost everything comes full circle. People who love themselves come across as very caring, generous and kind to others too; they express their self-confidence through humility, forgiveness and inclusiveness. So seek to understand others before you attempt to judge. And be thankful for rude, difficult people too – they serve as great reminders of how not to be.
by MARC CHERNOFF