For most of my life, I sat on the sidelines… watching life pass me by… I was so busy living in victim mode – feeling like the world and everyone was against me! I felt like I could never ever catch a break or get anything I wanted out of life!
Looking back, I was accepting scraps of affection and had to do what those around me wanted in order to feel worthy. As a result, I frequently found myself in situations that made me unhappy.
I had a dysfunctional relationship with MOST everybody in my life (pretending to be one person around certain people, another person around others – yes including family!), including MYSELF.
I hated life.
I hated myself.
I numbed myself with food, alcohol, shopping, and yes even sex. And there was a time I even resorted to self-harm too.
Finally, I was fed up with the bullshit. I was sick and tired of living the way I was. I made a decision, the morning after my 37th birthday, to seek help for the drinking. I went into outpatient treatment, started seeing a therapist, and attended AA meetings every day.
Both my therapist and the women in AA suggested I didn’t love myself. I rolled my eyes… especially at the women in AA that continually told me “we’ll love you until you can love yourself.” I mean all I wanted to do was stop drinking and for the love of God that didn’t have anything to do with loving myself… or did it?! (Hint – it had everything to do with staying sober & changing all areas of my life 😉 )
And it was suggested, again by both my therapist and those sober women around me, that I fix the effed-up relationship I had with myself before trying to fix relationships with others and other areas of my life.
If you don't have a healthy relationship with yourself, one based on the foundation of love, chances are you'll find yourself unhappy in multiple areas of your life, like I was! And probably self-harming in some way (addiction, etc.).
Here are 10 signs your self wants to be loved more by you…
Sign #1: You Think Mean Thoughts about Yourself
Everyone has the occasional off day where they think that they’re stupid, fat, ugly, or worthless (I still have them even after several years of being very intentional about how I speak to myself/think things about myself). But if these thoughts are on repeat throughout your day or if you’re thinking other unkind things, you aren’t practicing self-love. Instead, you’re creating a neural pathway of hate that becomes reinforced each time you think these thoughts.
Sign #2: You Compare Yourself to Others
People who struggle with self-love often compare who they are to who someone else is (oh my gosh, when I suffered from low self-esteem, didn't value myself, etc. I couldn't go one day without comparing myself to someone else – it was exhausting!). Maybe you pass someone on the street and think she’s prettier, smarter, or more put together than you. You see all of her great abilities or strengths and none of yours. As a result, you feel poorly about yourself.
Sign #3: You Don’t Stand Up for Yourself
When you don’t love yourself, you don’t believe you're worthy of defending. Maybe this means that you didn’t stand up to the co-worker that lied to you, or you’ve accepted years of your spouse’s verbal abuse. Perhaps you haven’t said no to a “friend” that keeps borrowing money without paying it back or you tolerate a relative that says vicious things behind your back.
For me, this showed up in soooo many ways but the part that, looking back, hurts most was not standing up for myself when men used me… even when I told them how their actions made me feel. They would say the “right” thing to get back into my good graces (aka my pants).
But on the other hand, when you love yourself, you rise to your own defense! You’re not afraid to put up boundaries that protect you against your verbally abusive spouse or allow you to stand up to your lying co-worker, nasty talking relative, etc.
Sign #4: You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
You might be wondering what getting enough sleep has to do with self-love. But if you’re always pushing yourself to the edge of exhaustion and don’t let yourself rest, pause to ask why. Do you think you have to be worthy of it? Are you trying to “earn” the right to get enough sleep?
Sign #5: You Don’t Care for Your Body
Often when you struggle with self-love, this affects your relationship with your body. If you hate yourself, it’s hard to care for your body which is an extension of you. As a result, you may move too little and not regularly exercise or you might subject yourself to a grueling exercise routine.
For others, this might look like making lifestyle choices that harm you long-term while giving you short-term relief. These lifestyle choices could include drinking excessively, smoking, or overeating.
Sign #6: You Aren’t Eating Foods that Fuel You
Note: I don't believe there are “good” or “bad” foods. I do believe there are more nutritious and less nutritious foods, though.
It’s normal to binge on those less nutritious foods – which most people call junk food – once in a while, and if you’re going through a stressful time, you might find yourself hitting up the drive-thru more often than usual. But if continually choosing those less nutritious foods is a normal routine for you, consider what message you might be trying to send to yourself.
Are you telling yourself you’re not worth the effort of preparing a delicious, nutritious meal? Are you saying you can’t choose foods that give you energy and make you feel better? Are you convinced there’s simply no time to care for you?
Side note: At 47, I'm just now getting help from a therapist for an eating disorder I've struggled with off and on since 19. I share this because this is one area of my life – food – I still don't have in ‘control' (for lack of a better word) and one area I still tell myself “I don't love you” because of the things I do with food/how I use food, etc.
Sign #7: You’re Not Taking Time to Relax
You don’t have to devote hours of your day practicing meditation or yoga. But do consider how often you give yourself permission to relax. When was the last time you left empty space on your calendar just for you? How often do you get home from work only to start on another list of tasks? These choices could be caused by overwhelm but they may also point to the fact that you don’t feel like you can relax.
If you struggle to love yourself, you might be tempted to believe you’re worthy of love only if you’re doing something. You derive your sense of self-worth from your to-do list so the idea of slowing down feels overwhelming.
Sign #8: You Don’t Forgive Yourself
You laid awake last night remembering the silly thing you said to the cashier. You thought it was a joke, but she didn’t laugh. Now you’re thinking that you’re stupid. You forgot to pay the bills again and the water was shut off for a few hours. You forgot an acquaintance's husband’s name at a recent gathering.
It’s normal to feel embarrassed or stupid from time to time. But if you’re always replaying all of the ways you messed up, you might struggle with self-forgiveness.
When you’re in a relationship with someone you love, forgiveness must be a natural part of it. Forgiveness should be like a river between you, allowing love and compassion to flow freely. But if you don’t love yourself, you might struggle with forgiving yourself.
This is another area I still struggle in, although I've gotten 1,000 times better than I used to be. But there are times I just can't stop feeding quarters to the ass-kicking machine and just keep beating myself up over and over and over about something, not being able to forgive myself.
Sign #9: You Let Others Dictate Your Choices
You’re always worried about what others think. You can’t seem to make a decision unless you’ve checked in with your significant other, best friend, co-workers, and a host of other people. While waiting for approval, you don’t let yourself take that dance class or pursue that thing you’ve always wanted to do (go back to school, start an online business, whatever it may be).
Constantly seeking approval and validation from others for your life choices is often a loud warning sign that you don’t love yourself. You already know what you need and want. You must trust that your loving heart is guiding you on the best path.
I remember when this is how I used to live – I could not do anything without validation or approval from others! And heaven forbid somebody didn't approve of something I wanted to do because I sure as shit wouldn't do it then. Thankfully I've learned, over the course of the last several years of loving myself, that it's ok to trust myself because I do know what I want and what is best for me 🙂 (At 47 this a huge accomplishment lol)
Sign #10: You Never Treat Yourself
When you love someone, you want to do nice things for them. Maybe you always give your significant other a massage after a hard day at work or you put little notes in your child’s backpack. Perhaps you always pick up the phone to listen to a friend when she calls you or you don’t hesitate to step in and help a co-worker who’s running behind on a deadline.
But ask yourself when was the last time you did something nice for yourself. Do you ever simply treat yourself to something lovely for no reason?
If you don’t remember, start thinking about nice things for yourself that you would like. Perhaps you would enjoy a massage at the mall or to spend an hour at the beach reading. Maybe you would like a mani-pedi or an evening to binge-watch your favorite TV show. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. All that matters is it feels good to you!
Don’t be afraid to spend time or money on yourself to show love. You’re worth taking care of too and you deserve to be pampered.