As I said yesterday, loving yourself isn’t a prerequisite to loving someone else – but I do believe that loving yourself enriches your experiences of life. Loving yourself means finding the worth in yourself and placing a value on it.
For those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, being abused regularly – even daily, or even (like I was), multiple times daily by multiple people – feeling that we’re loveable, or that we deserve to be loved, is not something we’re used to.
Think back to the last time you were in the presence of a very young baby. They’re totally in love with themselves, aren’t they? They have no doubt that they are the centre of the universe: According to themsleves, they are just the most important people in the world – indeed, they are the only people in the world! Here’s some really great news for you, though; all that self-love, that babies are born with? It doesn’t go anywhere. That love is still inside you, it’s just been covered over with hurt, and lies, and gaslighting, and abuse. So, your job is to be an archeologist of sorts. You don’t have to learn how to love yourself, you have to remember how to love yourself. And remembering something that you already know is a lot easier than learning something you don’t know.
It took me years to remember how to love myself, and I’d like to share some of the things I learnt along the way.
The first thing might sound counter-intuitive: I’d like you to tune into that critical voice in your head and listen to what it says. Write down the nasty words. Then look at them. Where did they come from? Whose voice is it you hear in your head when you’re berating yourself? I’d suggest that it’s not actually your voice – but the voice of one of your parents, or someone else who was unkind to you in your childhood.
In your best attempt at dispassionate objectivity, read them again and mark the ones that are true. How many have you marked? One? All? None?
I’m willing to bet that, really, and truly, none of them is actually true. Given that, I’d like you to stop saying things to yourself that aren’t true. Seriously. Stop lying to yourself, about yourself. I’d now like you to write a list of things about yourself that are true. Be honest. Don’t censor yourself. Don’t worry about appearing big-headed, or egotistical, or narcissistic – no one ever needs to see this but you. Now that you have your list, read it every day and add to it as new things come to mind.
This is your first step. I’ll share the second step with you tomorrow.