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Learning Self Love and Respect
There have been many songs on the subject. There are endless self-help books and countless seminars to teach it. Everyone acknowledges how important it is: you’re better when you love yourself.
It would be great if you loved yourself, but you don’t. You haven’t for a long time, and all of the media and all of the self-help content hasn’t made a bit of difference. You are beginning to think of yourself as a lost cause, destined to live on with self-loathing.
There are solutions, though. Just because the previous attempts at loving yourself were unfulfilling does not mean you should give up. It only means you need to employ a new strategy, complete with understanding your state, disabling barriers, and committing the needed time and energy towards your goal of self-love.
Know the Goal
What does “loving yourself” mean to you? For most people, the concept of self-love fits well with other terms, like:
When you love yourself, your self-esteem will be high. You can find positive aspects of your personality, your physical presence, the world around you, and life in general. When self-esteem is low, everything is negative — pessimism looms like a dark cloud hovering in the sky.
Some people think self-esteem is a fixed, unchangeable personality trait. In actuality, self-esteem is a flexible state that changes regularly based on influences of the world and your perceptions.
Your self-esteem can improve, but you have to believe it can to see the difference. Additionally, you need to accept your role in changing your self-esteem. You cannot wait for others to change it or for it to improve.
A Word About Trees
Trees are a great metaphor for self-esteem.
There are two trees standing tall in the middle of a meadow. The first has a thick, solid trunk. It is stable and steady. When the wind comes, it sways slightly in one direction, but quickly returns to its upright position.
The second has a slimmer trunk. It is more flexible and easily swayed by the wind to one side or another.
Having good self-esteem is like having a thick trunk. It protects you from swaying from the blowing wind of criticisms and compliments.
People with good self-esteem focus on building their trunks, while people with poor self-esteem focus on trying to stop the wind from blowing.
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Retrace Your Love
When it comes to loving yourself, you have to look back before you can look forward. Start with your childhood — what messages about love, self-respect, and confidence were you taught?
Did you have a good role model for high self-esteem, or did negativity surround you? Did people in your life tell you that you were good or never good enough?
These early experiences can leave an enduring impact on your self-esteem. Simply performing self-esteem skills will have no impact if you do not address these ideas from the past.
By recognizing these events and processing their influence, you can begin moving away from your past and towards higher self-esteem. You must understand that those messages from the past may have been completely flawed.
Bragging, Boasting, and Bigheads
A problem that commonly holds people back from higher levels of self-love is their views on bragging and boasting. People with low self-esteem frequently worry about suddenly becoming an egomaniac if they were to accept a compliment or give one to themselves.
Somewhere along the line, speaking highly of yourself became seen in a negative way. Instead, people generally seem more comfortable referring to themselves with self-deprecation as they emphasize their flaws and downplay their strengths.
For you, this is something to avoid. Allow yourself to brag. Allow yourself to boast. Allow the people around you to appreciate the person you are and all the good you have to offer.
This is not a bad thing, even if your head becomes too big to get through the door, because the positivity will make your self-love grow.
Talking the Talk
Now that you are okay with bragging, what are you going to brag about? Who are you going to brag to? The second question is easier — you should start with bragging to yourself.
When considering what compliments to give yourself, picture a used car dealer trying to sell you. Does the dealer focus on your 300,000 miles, your cigarette burns on the seats, and your rusting frame? Of course not.
Used car dealers know how to change the perception of even the worst piece on the lot from negative to positive. Focus on the gas mileage, the great sound system, and the sunroof.
People may struggle with this idea because they feel it is inaccurate or disingenuous. They feel they are lying to themselves, and this is a valid point.
But you must understand there is a better chance that you are lying to yourself by overly focusing on your weaknesses and negative qualities. Either way, you are wrong. Wouldn’t you rather be wrong while feeling good?
Walking the Walk
Do you know people who love themselves? Do they speak kindly of their positive qualities? Do they look or act in admirable ways? If you are interested in building a love for yourself, you can look to these people as a guide.
Surely people with high self-esteem are incredibly diverse, but they also share similar qualities and ways of behaving like:
- Having good posture
- Making solid eye contact with others
- Communication in effective ways with clear ideas, strong beliefs, and respect for self and others
By noticing and incorporating some of these styles into your repertoire, you begin portraying the image to others that your self-love in strong. When others see this, there is a good chance that they will respond to you differently.
Now, you will exude the appearance of someone worthy of their attention and respect rather than someone who accepts being ignored or marginalized as the butt of a joke. You can internalize their changed response and feel proud of who you are.
The path to increasing your level of self-love in an individualized journey that each person must take. The route can be long and winding, especially if respect and confidence were not valued in your early years, but it is always worthwhile.
Set your eyes on self-love and amazing things can happen — and don’t be afraid to brag along the way.