Why Self-Love Should Be One of Your Goals
I heard a story recently that resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it in case you can also relate.
The story was told by Anne Barker in an episode of the Cracked Cup podcast. Like so many of us, Anne has lived much of her life in a larger body, but for a long time, she wasn’t happy about it.
At one point, she went to a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous. She got tears when she saw the “Welcome Home” sign, and those tears stayed as she listened to the stories of the other people. As she listened, she thought about the people who spoke:
“[You] are so lovable, and you feel so bad about yourself. And I could watch, one after the other, no matter what the story…, how easy it was to love every one of those people, and not one of them felt they could love themselves. They felt unlovable and hopeless and helpless.
“And I got in my car, and… I thought, why is it that I can… look at all these people and see them as inherently lovable, and have this huge amount of compassion for them, and not me?”
I don’t know about you, but that hit home for me. I remember so well how when I was younger, I had friends who were heavy, but I never thought they were broken or ugly or needed to be fixed before someone could love them.
But when I looked at myself, that’s exactly what I thought. That I was unlovable as I was.
And looking back, the thing that gets me is that I don’t recall any diet or weight loss program that told me anything different. Why would they? If I believed I was lovable as I was, why would I need their program?
But the reality is, having a goal of self-love is so important, at any size.
What self-love gives you
If you wonder why you should try to focus on this, think about these benefits that you’ll see in your life when you truly care for yourself.
Improvements to other relationships
When you don’t care for yourself, it’s very easy to get into bad relationships because you don’t feel like you deserve anything better. If you have self-love, though, you won’t want to settle for being with others who aren’t treating you well.
Recovery from past wounds
You can’t go through life without experiencing some amount of hurt, some more than others. It’s very hard to heal from and move past those wounds without caring for yourself. When you feel self-love, though, you can leave those troubles behind more easily.
Too often, our goals in life are about things we dislike, particularly our bodies, and we may also set goals that we know we can’t reach, which only makes us feel worse. On the other hand, when you love yourself, you look for ways to grow and nurture yourself, rather than trying to fix yourself or fit someone else’s ideal.
Or you can think about the benefits of self-love the way Anne described it:
“[That Overeaters Anonymous meeting] sent me on a path of, I need to love myself. Which didn’t make me thinner… but it did make me more peaceful and content and happy, and I had a much better life when I even liked myself or loved myself at all.”
How to practice self-love
Depending on how you currently feel about yourself, the idea of self-love may feel like too big of a leap, If that’s the case, start with trying to like yourself first and go from there.
Whatever your goal, here are a few steps you can take.
Shift your inner voice
Start by focusing on the inner voice that comments on your life. Odds are, that voice is going to sound like a critic. If that’s the case, shift that voice by consciously using supportive language towards yourself. For example, don’t believe the voice when it says you’re a failure. Remind yourself of good things you’ve done and remember that you can learn from this experience.
Practice mindful self-compassion
going a step further, this article from Medical News Today points out that you can use exercises to practice self-compassion. You can use these in moments of stress and suffering, but you can also incorporate them throughout the day, which helps make self-compassion more habitual. You can find examples of these exercises on Self-Compassion.org.
Set appropriate boundaries – and keep them
Without self-love, you may be inclined to let others take advantage of you. Why does it matter what you need when you’re so unlovable? But if you can start asserting yourself by identifying your needs and holding firm on them, you’ll encourage others to respect you – and you’ll feel more respect for yourself.
Remember that you’re worthy of love
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which is usually about romantic love. But perhaps you can spend some of the day focused on self-love.
Because regardless of what you may think now, as Anne noted, you are inherently worthy of love.