One of the things I get very frustrated about is hearing people beat themselves up. I have too many friends and family members who do this. I really wish that they could see the beautiful person that I see. I wish when the negative thoughts come up (e.g. “I’m too fat,” “I could never do that,” “I’m not smart enough,” etc…) surface, that they could hear my voice in response.
You see, I used to be one of those people. I didn’t love myself. I might have been smart, but it wasn’t anything special. At one point I was a college drop-out, after all. At one point I was heavy and out-of-shape, and I rarely felt sexy. I had quite a lot of negative things to say about myself and the world around me.
When my divorce happened, I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I realized that in a lot of ways I was looking for other people to make me happy, but nothing they were doing was having any effect. My counselor made me realize that I need to learn to fill my own cookie jar, instead of relying on others to do it for me (more on the cookie jar here).
With the help of a private counselor, group counseling, countless self-help books, a ton of journaling and self reflection, I started to quiet those negative voices. I am proof that it can be done. I am proof that even though I haven’t been able to silence them completely, you can take control of them and put them in their place.
If you feel like you are unlovable for any reason, here is my top five ways to begin a loving dialogue with yourself.
- Fake it until you make it. One of the first homework assignments my counselor gave me got me thinking about this. She told me to create a small poster that said “I love you, Christy” and put it on my bathroom mirror. Each time I went into my bathroom, I was supposed to look myself in the eyes and tell myself “I love you.” The first time I did this, I cried. I didn’t believe it. I knew it wasn’t true. But I wanted it to be. I kept doing the assignment, and it got easier and easier. At the end of the week, I still didn’t completely believe it, but I was starting to. Just saying the words started changing things for me.
- Create something. Paint, make some earrings, make a mosaic, draw something (try Zentangles), color something. Making something that you are completely responsible for makes you feel proud. It makes you feel unique. And it gives you a way to express yourself in ways you might not normally do.
- Journal. Even if you think you don’t like to write, start a journal. When you start to feel those negative thoughts and emotions come on, sit and write them out. I think you will be surprised at how journaling can help to get these thoughts out of your mind in a way that mulling them over never seems to. Buy yourself a journal that you find ascthetically pleasing, buy a nice pen, and write. Go back and look at your entries to see if there are any patterns there. I’ve found that to be illuminating. I’ve both discovered patterns that I hadn’t realize were there and seen how far I’ve grown. Journaling is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
- Read. There are so many great books that offer healing strategies. Daring Greatly was a life changer for me. The How of Happiness provided my science-y brain with a ton of data-based strategy on how we can be happy. Sometimes we think that strategies for happiness are froo-froo hippy stuff. Well, maybe, but science also supports them. The Alchemist was a beautiful reminder of the importance of living your dreams. The Art of Asking has been a great reminder to let people in and let them help. Way of the Peaceful Warrior was a great lesson in why it’s important to live in the moment. Each of these books, and more, are ones I read time and again to remind myself that I am important and I deserve to be happy. You do too…
- Go outside. Not a nature person? Do this anyway. Go for a walk. See the wonder of nature. If you really look, your problems begin to look pretty small in comparison. My counselor used to like to ask me what the worst case scenario would be for a situation I brought to my session. When she asked me that, it forced me to realize 1) that things didn’t usually result in the worst case scenario and 2) that there were other options than the worst case scenario. When you go outside and see the wonder of the world, you start to consider those better scenarios. You start hearing your true voice. It’s one worth listening to…
I hope my top 5 list is helpful to you on your journey. Is there anything you would change or add?