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Learning to love who you are wobbly bits and all, is something many of us find difficult. We have one set of rules to judge ourselves and a very different set of criteria by which we judge the worth of others. The good news is there are ways we can learn to love ourselves on our path to self-improvement.

What do we mean by loving ourselves?

By loving yourself I am talking about valuing yourself for the unique, amazing person you are. Knowing your weaknesses and failings and always wanting to be better but knowing that simply being you is actually enough. I’m not talking about being indulgent or narcissistic.  

 

Reasons why we don’t love ourselves

Our sense of self is often created early in life, based on the input from the significant adults in our lives (who were generally doing the best they could and truly wanted the best for us), and how we have since used that information to reaffirm set perceptions.

One client had parents who constantly told her “You can do better” without recognising the efforts that she made. They left a sense of never being good enough.

Another client felt that he was always on the outside of “the gang” when he was at school. He always felt he wasn’t good enough, until he met his now wife. Several years on she is a workaholic and although he is extremely successful in his own professional right all the feelings of insecurity have once again taken over.

Many children carry that sense of being a failure throughout adulthood even though there is plenty of evidence that they are a perfectly successful human being. Others feel that their worth is entirely based around what they do for others. They feel good when they do things for others, but it comes at a cost of them feeling that they are disappearing in those good deeds.

 

Strategy 1 - A Sense Of Fairness

Think about a set of scales, the old fashioned sort, with two weigh pans. Draw them on a piece of paper.

In the one pan consider how you judge other people. What do you expect from others? What do you think is good, bad or indifferent?

In the second pan identify the criteria you use to judge your own performance.

Ask yourself: Are the criteria the same for both? If not consider why not.

Over the coming days each time you go to beat yourself up for something you have done or failed to do and ask yourself am I being FAIR. What would I think if Fred or Bertha did this? Would I go on at them in the same way I keep beating myself up with that voice in my head.

It is crucial that you are honest and FAIR. Be no easier or harder on yourself than you are with others.

 

Strategy 2 – Understand You Are Unique

So many people I work with find it difficult to identify what their strengths and skills are. They can identify in detail their shortcomings but stutter and stumble over coming up with a list of the things that they can do, or like about themselves.

Make a list over a few days about all the things you can do and your positive attributes. Don’t take things for granted. You may be kind, thoughtful, funny, a good neighbour or daughter. Your skills may include the ability to organize the family, multi task, teach other.

Read the list at the end of each day and acknowledge that you are a unique human being. There is no one else who is just like you.

Explain to 5 people who know you well that you are doing a project for an organisation and ask them to write for you the list personal attributes and skills they think of when they think of you. What is it which makes you – you.

 

Strategy 3 - Learn To Love Your Body

Lots of people dislike their body shape, a facial feature, their height etc, but learning to be comfortable with who we are, is important.

You are more likely to feel good about yourself if you are healthy and fit. If you are overweight and live an unhealthy lifestyle taking control of your life by taking positive steps to get healthy will have a positive impact on your sense of self worth. Understanding your relationship with food and creating a healthier one can help you to create and sustain a healthier life style in the long term.

The following exercise is a useful strategy to help you appreciate your physical assets.

Stand in front of a mirror. Look at yourself and identify the three things you like most about how you look. (Remember it is what you like most. You don’t have to be ecstatic, you might want to say you like them the least worst but the language is important so please use the positive format.)

Say out loud “I like my …….. hair best because……… I like my …….. because ………   I like my …….. because

As you bath or shower each day and you are washing yourself.

Say thanks to each bit of you, if you like it thank it and state why you like it “Thank you hair for being my crowning glory, I love the way you shine”

If it is a bit you don’t particularly like thank it for its function. “Thank you nose for being there and for providing a sense of smell.”

The exercise should be done in a lighthearted way. As it makes you smile you will find yourself feeling better about how it is. You start to make a friend out of the face that having your body is part of you.

 

Strategy 4 - Affirmations

Try my example to start with, but then create some for yourself. It is important to include the words “Even more” as it assumes you love yourself already.

Say it out loud. Each time put the emphasis in each word in turn and see just how different it feels.

 

  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.
  • Every day I love and appreciate who I am even more and in doing so I become a better person.

 

And so on….

 

Working with a coach can be incredibly helpful when working on developing a healthy sense of self worth but these strategies you can do to help yourself.

 

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