The single greatest issue that I have come across in my coaching practice over the past number of years is the lack of self-esteem and self-worth in many people. No matter how accomplished or successful a person may be I still tend to find traces of low self-esteem and low self-confidence.
The conditioned beliefs, which many of us have inherited, make it very difficult for us to truly feel good about ourselves. Living in a competitive, controlling environment has taught us that we have to push to get ahead or risk being left behind. This has made it difficult for many people to ever feel good enough.
So often we have been taught that happiness comes from external things like money, possessions, promotions, appearance and intelligence. As a result, we have not been taught to look within ourselves for true happiness. Because we put so much emphasis on things outside of ourselves, we often forget to take care of ourselves on the inside. It is my belief that you will only be truly happy when you are able to find happiness within yourself — and that can only be achieved by learning to love yourself more.
I truly believe that the answer to most of our problems in life is that we do not love ourselves enough. Often we are our own biggest critics; we are even harder on ourselves than others are. I can understand where that is coming from, but realize that in order to achieve true happiness the way we treat ourselves must change.
It is critical to believe that you are the most important person in your life. And no, that is not the same as being selfish or self-centered (like so many of us have been taught). We are only selfish when we believe that there is not enough (love, money, success, etc.) for everyone, and so we try to keep what we desire for ourselves.
When you believe in abundance, you know that there is plenty for you and for everyone else. Selfishness comes from fear. If you truly love yourself then you are more than willing to give to others because you feel so good about yourself. It is my belief that you cannot give to others what you do not have for yourself. Therefore, you will only be able to really love others once you’ve learned to love yourself.
I know that my life changed when I finally began to truly love myself about five years ago. The better I treated myself, the better I began to treat others. Once I realized that it was time to start loving myself more, a world of opportunities, friendships and accomplishments began to appear in my life. I realized that although I managed a multi-million dollar company and had many people reporting to me, I really did not feel very self-confident or self-assured. I really didn’t think I was good enough — even though I had accomplished so much in my life. I realized that I was always trying to get others to approve of me, sometimes on a subconscious level. I felt as though I was always giving and had difficulty receiving. I avoided confrontation because I thought people would not like me if I spoke up to them. I tried so hard to get people to like me but what I didn’t realize was that deep down I didn’t like myself. I was so concerned about the opinions of others that I didn’t realize my own opinion of me. I was so focused on what others thought that I didn’t even know my own truth. As I began to be more understanding of myself and stopped trying so hard to be liked, I slowly started to feel better about myself. I let go of the guilt that I felt deep within me and truly began to treat myself as if I was the most important person in my life. And as I became more comfortable with myself and even began to really like myself… Guess what? People noticed that I had changed for the better.
When we truly love ourselves we have so much more to give to others because we are able to see the world in all of its abundance. Love is abundance. Love is about kindness, genuine concern and appreciation. Love is about being gentle and tender. Love is about not having expectations or anticipations. Love is about being flexible and spontaneous. It is about respect and not having to be right all the time. Love is not about winning and losing and it is not about judging or controlling. Love is forgiving and understanding. It is about accepting someone for who they truly are and not trying to change them. It is about loyalty and devotion. Love is about being considerate. Love is about trust, honesty and truth. Love is about giving and receiving and feeling equally good about both. Love is about not having regrets or feeling guilty. Love is how you feel not how you think. Love is about being open and not dependant. Love is about making someone feel special and wanted. And of course the list goes on and on, for we have been trying to define love for many years and I believe we have not yet mastered the true definition of it. I believe love is a feeling and cannot accurately be described by words.
So, if we agree that we need to love ourselves more and we somewhat agree on what love is, then we should take our own personal definition of love and reflect it upon ourselves.
Take a few moments and think about how much you really like yourself and honour yourself. How forgiving and understanding are you when you make a mistake? How devoted and loyal are you to yourself? Do you truly stand up for yourself; do you draw boundaries around what you will not tolerate in your life? Do you respect yourself? Do you judge yourself or do you accept yourself for who you truly are? Do you pretend to be someone else? Do you trust yourself to know what is in your best interest? Do you care more about the opinions of others than your own opinion? Do you have regrets and make yourself feel guilty about things you have done or not done? Do you treat yourself as if you are the most special person in the world? Are you being open, flexible and spontaneous in your life or are you rigid and closed? Do you have high expectations about what you should be doing in life and get upset when you fall short? Do you make yourself feel good or do you put yourself down? Are you upset with yourself when you lose? Are you your biggest fan or your biggest critic? Do you always accept yourself as you are?
These are a few things to consider as you think about how you can love yourself more. As you begin to change the way your treat yourself and learn to truly love yourself, your world on the inside will surely change and with that, your outer world will transform as well. The love you have for yourself will begin to pour forth and you will shine brightly on all those you come in contact with.