Why is self-love so hard?
Self-love and positivity in yourself is a hot topic at present. With people promoting equality for all genders, races and beliefs you would think we would be more accepting of ourselves.
Why do we find it so hard to love ourselves? This is a question that has plagued me for years. Personally, I have found it extremely hard to accept and love myself as a person for many reasons.
Don’t be boastful
Since an early age, children are taught not to overly boast. Praising yourself has been seen as a sign of arrogance and vanity in society. Modesty has always won over our desire to share our accomplishments with the world and give self-praise. Likewise, people who take pride in how they look can be labelled ‘vain’ or egotistical. We see people around us that are overconfident as having an ‘attitude’.
Imagine you have done something you are proud of, you smile both inside and out. You go to tell somebody else and they do not share your enthusiasm. You will feel like you should not be sharing your achievement because you did not get the reaction you desired. This brings about doubts and feelings of insecurity.
In that situation, we did not take into account the state of mind of the other person. This has a big impact. Our brains are naturally programmed toward the negative, it is a survival mechanism. Unless you have trained your mind towards positive thinking; the tendency is to inwardly judge and downplay the achievement of others as a survival mechanism.
If we surround ourselves with people who do not praise us or show gratitude towards us; it is hard to appreciate the impact that we have. I am not suggesting that the people around you should be giving you a ‘well done’ for everything; that would be ridiculous. However, telling someone in your life that they are appreciated and worthy every once in a while will help them love themselves.
Comparison is the thief of joy
Another hindrance to showing self-love is the act of comparison. Comparing yourself to others usually does not result in positive feelings. How can you love yourself if you are comparing yourself to others?
We are a species with a survival instinct; but the majority of people in the first world already have food, shelter and safety. This means that we focus on ‘having it all’ and compare ourselves to people around us.
Social mobility and the pursuit of wealth and power will ultimately lead to people not being happy. If you aspire to be wealthy or respected but do not have to means to achieve this then this will promote a negative self-image.
Another thing that affects our sense of self-love is the constant desire to meet targets and goals. Even when we are babies, we are weighed and measured; classified as either ‘average’ or not. Having experience of a son with early speech problems I know all too well how ‘not meeting the goals’ can affect a person’s self-esteem.
We are in a society where everything is measured. Our achievement is documented not by who we are as a person but on our education, salary and quantity of materialistic possessions.
You might feel inadequate because you did not get good exam results or you do not have an expensive car/house/handbag. This is because we base our sense of self-worth on ‘being the best and having the best’.
However, when you die, people won’t remember you for having no GCSEs compared to a degree, or a Jaguar rather than Ford Fiesta. People at a funeral’s don’t say “she had a great handbag collection” or “I couldn’t stand him, but I loved his Lamborghini”.
People will remember you for the qualities you had as a person, so why not love that about yourself. I remember at my Grandfather’s funeral the tales people told of ‘Jim the joker’, ‘Jim the gentleman’ and ‘Jim the family man’. My Grandfather did not have lots of money or education; but he had a heart that was decent, kind and full of laughter. I would rather be remembered for the impact I have on people rather than what I achieve.
I have realised over the past months that I am far too critical of myself. I find self-love hard as I do not deal with failure well. However, I am constantly telling the children I teach that ‘mistakes happen, it is about learning from them’. Whenever I make a mistake I must tell myself ‘this does not define me’ so that I do not use it as a metaphorical stick to beat myself up with.
Likewise, I tell the students ‘not to be too harsh on themselves’, ‘everyone is unique and special in their own way’. Why can I not take my own advice?
The answer to that is because I find it easier to be the victim than be the victor. Experiencing various degrees of bullying has made ‘the victim defence’ a default setting in my brain. When people told me I was insignificant and a failure, I believed them. I based my own worth on the opinions of other people and trained my mind to believe I was ‘worthless’ and ‘useless’.
Since I have made efforts to break out of this vicious cycle I have come to realise that other people’s opinions are not facts. Also, my opinion of myself is just that, an opinion. I was caught up in a loop of self-hatred for my failures when I should be celebrating my strengths.
For anyone who finds it hard to love themselves, listen up. I have a few things I want to say.
1) You are just as worthy as everyone else; you are a life with value to the world.
2) Do not expect others to champion you if you cannot champion yourself. They will get bored of the negativity.
3) You do not need a fancy education or loads of money to make an impact on the world. Making someone smile is just as valuable.
4) Everyone is different, so why compare yourself to others.
Do you struggle with showing self-love? I would love to hear what you all think about this topic. I am slowly working on it but it us a slow process.
What tips do you have for promoting self-love? Do you think we need to show more love to ourselves or does it have pitfalls?
Let me know in the comments section below what you think about the subject
Ciao for now beauties xx