Talk about self-love is everywhere you go. As a woman, you like the idea of loving yourself, but who can afford that luxury? There are kids to feed, a house to clean, bills to pay, and not even enough time to hit the gym. Every day, it’s a grind.
As much as you hate to admit it, the noise works. Too much quiet makes you think about the things you have put off for far too long.
Self-love is on the checklist. But unless it’s a manicure and pedicure or someone else doing dishes, there’s really no time for that. You see problems around you, but the status quo keeps it all at bay. This mask you put on each day is for them — your family.
But the “everything is okay” mask comes off the moment you’re alone and things are quiet. And you know that if you don’t learn how to love yourself the right way, you won’t be able to pass that lesson on to your family.
Still, you blame life for keeping you from truly finding inner happiness. You tell yourself that there’s too much to deal with.
What would you give up? Not your career, because your self-esteem is wrapped up in all you do.
If only that nagging voice would stop reminding you that you’re ready for more — more love, more happiness, more intimacy — but you know tomorrow you’ll bury yourself into work instead.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Women everywhere are struggling with work-life balance. Maintaining relationships and happy kids is hard enough on its own. Adding self-love and self-esteem into the mix is even more complicated.
But does it have to be? Andrea Miller, author, mother, and CEO of YourTango, shares how she came to terms with all of this chaos in her book Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love.
“These issues are ubiquitous to our society. Upper class, middle class, lower class — we are all in this together. If you can relate to those circumstances, you are not alone. I know how painful it is to feel emotionally isolated, to feel broken, to feel a deep void, to feel like you have to keep parts of yourself hidden or constantly trying to wrestle them to the ground.”
Learning how to love yourself is a process that requires you to take baby steps, but it starts with getting real your life. And that takes some serious acceptance. Not just of yourself, but of your life and the people around you.
But that is a gift to them, too. To radically accept your children for the unique people they are, to love your husband with a truly radical acceptance — these are the best ways to find peace and start making life better. Can you give that sort of radical acceptance to yourself, though?
We asked our Experts what it takes to move closer to self-love. They shared 12 helpful steps that reveal how loving yourself is something anyone can choose to do.
1. Get honest.
“People lie to themselves more than they lie to anyone else. In order to be the best you can be, you have to be dead honest with yourself. Once you look at things as they are, you can learn to love you, warts and all.
Without that complete honesty, you practice self-delusion rather than radical acceptance. Once you love yourself at this very deep level, the whole world awaits you. Being real about your life and yourself gives you the power to change.”
Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey is a sex and intimacy coach, registered psychologist, educator, speaker, and author.
2. Be transparent.
“We all have an awful, ugly side we try to hide from the world. The problem is, the more we stuff the awful away, the more unworthy and unlovable we feel. We start to mask our true selves which takes a toll on our health, our relationships and our self-esteem.
Learn to own your awful. Accepting your ugly side means no longer living in fear of not being good enough. You’ll finally have the freedom to choose the life you have always desired. Owning your awful is the gateway to self-love, self-acceptance and true transformation.”
T-Ann Pierce is a transformational life coach who specializes in helping women feel strong and connected as they transform their lives.
3. Feel your feelings.
“Evidence for how you love yourself is all around you, you only need to be brave enough to look and allow it to sink in. What is your health like? How does your body feel? What are your relationships and friendships like?
The evidence is there to convict you. Allow that conviction to empower you to get the support that you both desire and deserve. There is no need to go on any journey you desire alone.”
Michele Brookhaus RSHom(NA), CCH is a classical homeopath and energy healer who believes in connections with self and others.
4. Choose love.
“You always have a choice: to live in love or to live in fear. When you choose to love, you have little Aha moments into the nature of your Self. When you choose fear, your life becomes a twisted story of love being a means for your ego to get its demands met. The greatest Aha moment is when you wake up to your true identity as love and know what life truly means for the first time.”
Coach Annie-Leigh has a PhD in the power of “Aha moments” to wake you up, transforming your life in body, mind, soul and spirit.
5. Let love guide your goal-setting.
“The best way to disappoint yourself is to strive unrealistically for unattainable goals. The second best way to disappoint yourself is to not strive for goals you can reach. Self-love emerges as we realize who we can become and we get out of our own way so we can fulfill realistic dreams, hopes, and our own potential!”
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is a psychologist, author, playwright and filmmaker, and the creator of The Enchanted Self ®, a method for happiness.
6. Allow yourself to feel anger and fear.
“Best way to reality? Trigger your anger, fear or grief and pay attention to how you respond. You can do this safely with music that’s angry, scary or sad; Let your feelings come up and just be with them until they pass. The moment when your skin crawls, or you begin to weep uncontrollably? That’s YOU. It’s also the moment when the transformation is present, asking you to accept yourself.”
Bill Protzmann is a musician, entrepreneur, and teacher.
7. Get to know yourself.
“Self-love without true self-knowledge is impossible. In fact, it’s paradoxical to think you can love and nurture yourself when you lack a true understanding of your actual circumstances. Self-love has to be unconditional. Otherwise, it’s something else entirely and can never sustain you.
You are bound to make mistakes, sometimes terrible and inexplicable ones. You’re also bound to discover qualities that disappoint you. The key is to love yourself because of these shortcomings, not in spite of them. And how can you ever love what you don’t really recognize?”
C. Mellie Smith specializes in providing helpful tools and resources to help couples dealing with infidelity heal the pain, rebuild the bond, and restore the trust after the affair.
8. Accept that you have value beyond performance.
“When you love yourself, unconditionally, you are teaching others how you want to be treated and showing them your worth. As you become more aware of your worthiness you will begin to attract the very people to you that you have always wanted to be with. Love yourself and fulfill your highest purpose of being.”
Linda Morinello is a wellness coach, speaker, facilitator, and author of “Conscious Living Through Cancer.”
9. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated.
“People tend to treat us the way we treat ourselves. Are you under the illusion that caretaking others — giving yourself up and people pleasing — will result in feeling loved by your partner? Here is where you need to get real!
As long as you are rejecting and abandoning yourself and making your partner responsible for your sense of worth and safety, you will feel unloved by your partner. Learning to love yourself changes all of this!”
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process.
10. Get real.
“Loving yourself is not easy because it requires five essential gifts you must give yourself first: honesty, safety, trust, respect, and reliability. Without these, expressed in everything you think, do, and say, you will have games, misunderstandings, anger and resentment.
You’ll think of yourself as a victim, a martyr, or worse, a person who has to settle for crumbs and the occasional compliment. If you want an equal, reciprocal, and mutual relationship — a healthy one — with someone else, it means getting real with yourself first. Remember, you cannot give a gift you do not have!”
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, is a relationship expert, mediator, speaker, author of sixteen books.
11. Radically accept yourself.
“There is no ‘right’ way to feel about money. No ‘best’ way to think about dollars and cents. Savers are not ‘better’ than spenders. And vice versa. Every individual is born with a natural bent towards handling money. Give yourself a break if you like to spend or take some risks with your funds. Pat yourself on the back if you like to save.
Or, if you don’t like to think much about money, that’s okay too. Love your natural bent — develop your strengths and work on your weaknesses, but stop telling yourself how you feel about money is wrong.”
Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial planners, authors, and speakers who help couples tackle money issues in their relationship.
12. Set healthy boundaries.
“Loving yourself is vital to living a free, and authentic life. Setting boundaries; asking for what you need and want; making choices that are good for you; allowing and even welcoming mistakes to learn from, and quieting down that inner critic whose voice we inherited, but isn’t truly ours; and having self-compassion. There is no magic formula for achieving self-love; it’s a daily exercise and starts with awareness.
Noticing times when you choose to please others at your expense; or when you keep quiet to avoid conflict; or don’t ask for help when you need some. Then see if you can get up the courage to ask for the help; or set one limit that feels risky and see how it goes. Getting real about your life is a commitment to yourself!”
Originally written by Aria Gmitter on YourTango
Feature Image by Jackson David on Unsplash