4 Benefits of Self-Love

 

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Your emotional immune system is restored when it’s rebuilt on a foundation of self-love. Self-love is made up of self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence. For survivors of abuse especially in childhood, like myself, our emotional immune system was damaged at essential stages during our development. Self-love can be cultivated through practicing self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and self-trust.

#1 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-WORTH

When we believe we are inherently defective, we then have to hide our real self, our essence, and try to become what we think we need to be, to be acceptable. The wounded self takes over and loses touch with our core Self – who we really are. We are stuck defining ourselves through our looks and performance, and we are stuck suffering the anxiety that comes from being so vulnerable to others’ disapproval. – Dr. Margaret Paul

For many years, I allowed my value to be defined by my ability to please others. It made me physically ill to disappoint those I looked to to give me a sense of value, my friends, parents, teachers, bosses and my intimate partners. I made everyone I came into contact with responsible for my feelings and tried to control how they felt about me by being who they wanted me to be.

The fear that they would see me the way I saw myself, as worthless, was so great, it took all my strength and focus to keep up the pretense that I was perfect. I lived this way for so long, I forgot who I was and how to be me. I was unable to see myself through the eyes of pure love. Relationships based on external approval will never survive. The real you, your essence will always seek to be seen, heard and felt and the discord this creates between the pull to be free and the push to suppress facing your truth will always cause you pain.

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#2 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-RESPECT

Your values and beliefs determine how you see yourself and your place in the world and go hand in hand with what you deem acceptable behavior and treatment. As children, we were unable to protect ourselves from those who were stronger than us and meant to do us harm. As adults, we alone are responsible for our path in life because we have freedom of choice.

Our experiences in childhood shaped our values and beliefs so if your experience as an adult is less than desirable, do a self-inventory to determine what your values and beliefs are. What, where and with whom you spend your time and money on will tell you your values. Your results in health, wealth and love will clue you in to your beliefs about your self-worth.

An aspect of cultivating self-love is liking, accepting and honoring who you are and where you are in life even as you take steps to change your adult experience into one that is more loving and supportive to your well-being. As you like, accept and honor yourself, you become intolerant to anyone or anything that is not in accordance with that. As you journey on your path to self-improvement, self-respect will help keep you grounded and protected from those who wish you harm.

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#3 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem is the result of taking loving action, not the cause of it. It doesn’t matter how badly you were treated as a child, or how badly your parents treated themselves. Your actions need never be governed by your past. When taking loving action in your own behalf replaces your inattentive and judgmental behavior toward yourself, you will discover that the result is high self-esteem. – Dr. Margaret Paul

Are you more critical and judgmental of yourself or more loving towards yourself? Do you treat yourself and allow others to treat you in ways that build up your spirit or in ways that tear you down? Think of the thoughts you have about yourself when you stand naked and look in the mirror or when you make a mistake at work or have an argument with your partner. How many of your daily thoughts carry negative energy? Do you think things like “You’re so fat” or “You’re so stupid” or “Why can’t you ever do anything right” or “That was a dumb thing to say”?

It’s been said that if you tell a child they’re stupid enough, they start to believe it and I believe that’s true. As a child, I received a lot of mixed messages that I carried with me into adulthood. I was told I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and that I was smart but I was also told that I couldn’t run, had a big forehead, big eyes and wouldn’t be loved if I was fat. The positive messages made me successful in school and work but only when I wasn’t weighed down in sadness because of the emotional pain I carried from the negative messages and the abuse I suffered in childhood.

In order to remove the unsupportive beliefs we have about ourselves, we first need to become aware of them and then take repeated steps, “loving action” to replace them with supportive beliefs because if you tell yourself something enough, you start to believe it. Actions speak louder than words so in order to change your negatively charged thoughts, do things that nourish your mind, body and spirit, that make you feel good about yourself, happy and at peace like acknowledging your feelings, eating right, exercising, meditating, going for a stroll in nature, listening to music, joining a support group, going to church, practicing gratitude, not allowing others to mistreat you.

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#4 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-CONFIDENCE

Self-esteem is believing that you are worthy and deserving. The combination of believing you are worthy and deserving along with the belief that you are capable creates self-confidence.

Self-esteem is something I still struggle with which is why sometimes I come off as cocky and a know-it-all. I know I’m capable, there’s never been any doubt of that and I received positive messages about my intellectual brilliance from a very young age. I excel in anything I put my mind and effort into yet there was always a part of me that was clouded by self-doubt and a feeling of unworthiness. I always worried about what other people would think. Would I be congratulated or made to feel like I could have done better? Would they see how hard I worked or would they be dismissive of my efforts?

My dependence on other people’s approval and trying to prove my worth created a lot of stress on my psyche. I became a workaholic so my bosses would recognize what a dedicated worker I was. I became addicted to love and sex to please partners so they would love and appreciate me. I learned how to become someone else in public, putting on a smile, being the good girl and the accomplished woman. All that effort created a wall between the persona I’d created and the person I really was inside.

I had an inherent fear that even if I accomplished everything my heart desired that it would all fall apart because I didn’t deserve to have it.

Understanding how and why I had compartmentalized so much of myself that I couldn’t find my way back to me through hypnotherapy and NLP has helped tremendously in restoring my self-worth and letting go of my addictions but it’s an ongoing process. My message to you is that you can heal, you will feel better but you have to choose to make yourself a priority.

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Below are four practices you can start today to build a foundation of self-love including self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Lastly, I also recommend reading Pema Chodron’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590306260?ie)

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Love Yourself The Way You Want to Be Loved and Never Be Disappointed Again

The Buddha said “Attachment is the root of suffering” and I clarify that and say that expectation, the attachment to someone other than yourself fulfilling your desires, is the root of suffering.

Never greater is our suffering than in a relationship. Be it platonic, familial or intimate, never is our imperfect humanness more apparent than when we are relating to others. Never is the abundance of opportunity for freedom and enlightenment more prevalent than in our relationships.

Too often we look to others to sustain us, to complete us, to approve of us, to validate us, to fulfill us, to repair us, to save us so much so that when they “fail us” as they will inevitably do, we are left broken and that is no state to be in.

No one else can be as motivated to do for you than you can be for yourself. FACT: No one else has your motivations, has lived your experiences or has your perspectives when combined create your desires. Then why, if your desires are your own, would you expect someone else to manifest them for you?

Certainly, others may help us along our journey to our destination: bliss but no one other than you can reach your bliss and the longer you depend on or expect others to take you to your bliss, the farther away you get from your true destination.

Love yourself the way you want to be loved and never be disappointed again.

Out of Suffering Comes Peace

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I don’t believe in the biblical sense of heaven and hell but I do believe they can be experienced. Suffering is a place. A perpetual place of pain the living can and do get stuck in. I was once stuck in this place. That was hell for me. I found a way out through psychology, hypnotherapy, energy work, life coaching and NLP.

Moving out of suffering requires (1) awareness, a knowledge of self, (2) accountability, taking 100% responsibility, and (3) integrity, living in accordance with your values. Applying these principles to my daily life allows me to experience peace. Peace for me is accepting that there will be moments of pain and sorrow in life and a knowing that I am able to experience those moments without getting stuck there.

Finding Yourself After a Lifetime of Hiding

I had become an expert at hiding. It’s what I did best. I was actually proud of it. Who wants to deal with all of those bothersome feelings that get in the way of getting shit done? I was under the illusion that I could live life unaffected by my baser human emotions like empathy and sympathy. Strangely enough, I’ve always been very compassionate and kind but that was easy because I didn’t have to be vulnerable to show compassion to others. In fact, I learned, the kinder I was, the more liked I was while never having to reveal the real me.

Heaven forbid I had to share my feelings. That was my kryptonite. Whether to friends or therapists, the relationship was not long lived once I had spilled my beans. Emotional closeness felt like stepping on a slug barefoot, it was yucky. It was also scary. The facade I had created of a successful, strong, capable and functioning member of society was at risk if I let on to what was really going on inside. A tangled mess of confusion, loneliness, anxiety, depression and disconnection.

Watching 3 Mics yesterday on Netflix brought this all back up. The memories of my 20-something-year-old self desperately seeking help for the emotionally broken child within me sobbing uncontrollably as I repeated over and over the story of my childhood in therapists’ office while at the same time running as far away from the pain as I could in the arms of lovers, both foreign and domestic.

3 Mics is a comedy special, a one-man show by Neal Brennan. His one liners were funny but what left an indelible impression on me was his candid revelations of his own journey through depression as a result of growing up with a violent, alcoholic, and narcissistic father. I envy people who can string together minimal words into impactful sentences. Listening to him describe his story and reading comments on his page from his fans sharing how they felt like he was telling their story reinforces a truth that while our stories may be unique, our pain is the same.

He recalls growing up as the youngest of his parent’s 10 children, with a father that took up all the physical and emotional space in a room learning to stifle his feelings so that eventually they atrophied and in order to feel anything, in essence, became addicted to achievement and adrenaline and yet the rush of his successes never quite satisfying his core needs, to which I can wholeheartedly relate.

I used achievement and adrenaline to feel as well. Growing up I didn’t feel seen or appreciated so in school and work, I worked hard to be recognized as talented and dedicated, which was made easy by being an INTJ. Adrenaline came in the form of drama, relationship drama specifically. If I wasn’t having one-night stands with strange men then I was stirring up havoc in my relationships as a result of my love addiction and intimacy avoidance.

Unlike Neal, I’ve never been medicated. I never got far enough with any therapist to have that topic come up. I just learned to cope and hide when things got too real. Until I had had enough of the turmoil. I was fed up with spinning my wheels in life, love, and career. There is no one path to emotional freedom but the result I believe is universal, reconnecting with your true self, your forgotten self, learning to help the broken child within you become whole again.

This is the journey I began about 5 years ago and one I continue on, with compassion and love for myself.

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Speaking My Truth: I Am Ok, Safe, and Worthy

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“If I feel like nothing without you, I have a lot of work to do on myself!” -Wendyne Limber

That sentence really struck me as I did today’s reading recalling the tension I felt in previous relationships, logically knowing when it was time to let go but being unable to because I only felt okay when I was with someone. When I was alone, I was depressed and directionless. I had a savior complex, one that worked both ways in that I felt powerful enough to save someone else and was also in need of saving. My feeling was if we could save each other, we wouldn’t need anything or anyone else.

So desperate was I to live that role that I would do anything to keep my partner, even if that meant tossing aside my values. I don’t drink but I started drinking for a girlfriend who thought I was boring and felt that if only I would drink, I would open up more and be more fun. It was fun, for about a week but I couldn’t sustain it, I didn’t want to and so she ended it.

I begged her to take me back promising to change, to be more fun, and she did but it was a mistake and we both knew it and spent another year in hell.

Write YOUR OWN NEW COMMITMENT to your partner or some person you are in relationship with. What do you really want?

I am not in a relationship currently but know what I want of a future partner and that is a conscious communicator and emotionally healthy being. This is who I’ve committed to being and want no less from a partner.

A conscious communicator shares themselves fully and is both powerful and vulnerable. Their thoughts, feelings, ideas, concerns, and passions are expressed with an intention to grow as an individual and to grow closer in the relationship. They speak and respond with loving kindness for connection and with compassion rather than judgment and blame.

An emotionally healthy being follows their inner guidance and takes responsibility for their feelings, reactions, and path in life. They do not rely on someone else to fulfill their emotional needs, to save, fix or protect them. They actively and consistently work to understand themselves, recognizing their triggers and taking action to resolve them.


 

This concludes my series on Speaking My Truth. The course I’m taking, Intimacy Without Responsibility goes for 7 weeks but I felt this series a very important piece in cultivating healthy relationships. I hope you enjoyed learning more about me and hope you learned something about yourself as well. If you’d like to take the course yourself, you can find the details here.

Speaking My Truth: Question Your Beliefs

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While relationships are a perfect environment for healing and evolving, there’s usually some growing pains that come before that due to our belief system.

I entered relationships with baggage, baggage from my childhood and baggage from previous relationships. That baggage included a distrust of people, a need to be wanted and approved of, a need to appear perfect, a need to be loved, and a need to be right.

When these things were questioned or not provided, I didn’t go within to question what it was about my belief system that led me to feel hurt, betrayed or powerless, rather I blamed others for not meeting my standards or having unresolved issues and therefore weren’t worthy of my time and affection.

It’s only through challenging my belief system that my growth began. Do not be afraid of what you might learn. Being triggered in relationships is an opportunity to heal and transform.

What behaviors in others or in your mate do you GATHER EVIDENCE TO PROVE?

Whenever I felt my partners losing interest, self-doubt turned to jealousy. My lack of self-confidence and self-esteem supported my belief that I was unlovable and not worthy. That belief then supported the belief that my partners didn’t love me or were cheating on me or no longer found me attractive.

I certainly didn’t have hard evidence but so sure was I in my belief that I was not enough that even words of reassurance couldn’t assuage my growing mistrust and malcontent.

Speaking My Truth: I No Longer Give My Power Away

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Relationships are the perfect environment to grow as a person when you are willing to hear your partner’s truth without taking offense and are also able to speak your truth without fear.

For many years, I was unwilling to recognize that I carried with me a lot of hurt and pain from my childhood that affected how I showed up in my intimate relationships. I was needy and controlling and both unsure and arrogant at the same time.

If I was ever at fault, I would blame the other. If anyone deigned to look below the surface and not only saw but pointed out my imperfection, that relationship was not long to last.

Becoming emotionally healthy requires you to look within at the roles you play in your relationships, intimate, platonic, familial and work. The responsibility for a successful relationship falls on both parties to show up consciously and fearlessly.

Do not be afraid to know yourself and allow others the wonderful opportunity to know themselves through relationship with you.

What things do you REACT to in communication and relationship with others? Where is your judgment? What kinds of behaviors and other stuff really trigger you with a partner, friend or family member?

In intimate relationships, whenever I felt less than perfect or when I had disappointed someone, I would go into panic mode and do anything to prove myself. I would get very defensive, unwilling to hear if I had done or said something that was unfair or incorrect or hurtful.

If the relationship was ending because I wasn’t right for someone, I carried around anger for that person, picking apart their words and behavior, making them the one with fault and imperfection.

I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be my partner’s everything and in turn, they became my everything so much so that when I wasn’t enough, I became very jealous and controlling.

Speaking My Truth: I Am No Longer Burdened in My Heart

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Do you shield your loved one from their own pain? How do you feel about this? How does your body feel about this?

As a people pleaser, this definitely rings true, for one person in particular, my mother. I grew up not knowing who my father was but there were moments as I grew up that I learned a few tidbits.

I knew the only person who could tell me what I needed to know was my mom but I didn’t want to cause trouble. When I moved away from home in my 20’s, similar to when I went away to college, I fell into depression.

Being on my own allowed me to feel my pain and I had a lot of it and part of it was not knowing my father. One Christmas I tried bringing up the topic with my mother but I sensed a hesitation and a discomfort so I didn’t press the issue.

A couple of years later, while living in Boston, I shared my story with a friend and she urged me to talk with my mom. The words promising that I would were just to close the subject since I didn’t feel I had built up enough courage to broach the topic.

My own hesitation stemmed from not wanting to force my mother to relive her painful past, some of which I knew about. I simply wanted to spare her any pain.

I finally learned who my dad was and met him for the first time 7 years ago but it wasn’t through a conversation with my mother but that’s a story for another time.

This experience of shielding someone else from feeling their hurt did both them and I a disservice; for me, losing years of a possible relationship with my father and for my mother, the chance to face her demons.

Now having found the courage to take responsibility for my feelings while allowing others that freedom as well, I am no longer burdened in my heart, soul, and body with regret and sorrow.

Speaking My Truth: I Am No Longer Afraid To Speak My Truth

Have you ever been afraid of someone’s reaction… and then did not speak your truth? Are you holding secrets from people in your life because you are afraid of their reactions? Did you know that you are hurting your body, mind, and spirit when you take this kind of responsibility? Are you willing to take the risk to speak your truth to the people you love?

Expressing my feelings about my childhood experiences especially concerning my upbringing with my mother was anathema. I could voice my feelings in intimate settings with people I trusted but a public revelation was the absolute worse thing I could subject my mother to. I recall not even being able to write her a letter even

I recall not even being able to write her a letter even though it wouldn’t actually be mailed or even pretend to talk to my therapist as if she were her. I felt responsible for any pain and suffering my telling would inflict on my mother and so I chose to suffer instead in silence, prolonging my healing until I felt ready or perhaps after she’d died.

After going through my alternative healing therapies training and experiencing the healing methods first hand, I felt miraculously lighter and freer and stronger. The burden of shame and guilt and responsibility for others’ feelings had been lifted.

When I decided to write a short ebook, I hadn’t really intended to bare my soul but that’s what I did in my introduction and I honestly hoped my mother would never read it but she did. She texted me one day say to say she’d read the book, loved it and was sorry for any pain she caused me growing up. It’s amazing the effect two simple words can have. I had taken a step to unburden my soul and I did it for me assuming no responsibility for another’s feelings and also with no expectations and in return was given a wondrous gift.

I am no longer afraid to speak my truth.

Speaking My Truth: I Alone Am Responsible For My Feelings

A couple of years ago I was in a very short but intense relationship. During those 3 months, not a day went by without an argument that left me questioning just what the hell I was doing with this person. It was 3 months of breaking up; she did the breaking up and I allowed her back in time and time again. Once I was able to extricate myself from the situation, I could not for the life of me, figure out WHY I let it go on for as long as it did and while granted 3 months seems a short period of time, it seemed like a lifetime.

Today’s lesson asked to draw a picture of what it looks like to take responsibility for someone else and then write a poem. The first thing that came to mind was what I consider a mental breakdown in this relationship where I witnessed myself, as if in an out of body experience completely hand over my power to this woman.

If I could draw a picture of what my taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings looks like, it would depict me down on my knees begging forgiveness for mouthing words that upset her, tears streaming down my face as I plead for her not to leave me.

How dare I have feelings
How dare I desire to want to express my feelings
How dare I expect that you hear and see me as a being with feelings separate from your own
How dare I desire to be heard by you
How dare I be affected by situations that evoke emotions that seek to be expressed only to evoke your venom instead of your empathy

How silly of me to believe you capable of listening to my feelings without feeling attacked by my words
How silly of me to believe you capable of offering support and consolation while I shared a moment of grief with you rather than seizing an opportunity to feel affronted and judged by an experience that had nothing to do with you

Thank you for bringing me to my knees
Thank you for the experience to witness my brokenness in action
Thank you for allowing me to see how completely I had given my power away
Thank you for that powerful moment of clarity that helped make the decision to take back control of my life and well-being