Christian Counselor Seattle
How many times have you heard people talking about the importance of learning to love yourself? Has it become like hearing background chatter? Maybe you no longer hear the words, or maybe you do not let the words really sink in.For some, it is like hearing your mom say, “eat your vegetables” when you were a child. It is in one ear and out the other. But the reality is that learning to love yourself is so important.
When I work with people struggling to learn to love and take care of themselves, I like to use this analogy: When you are on a plane before take off, the flight attendant talks about securing your own oxygen mask first before helping anybody else. The reason they say this is because if you are not getting oxygen yourself, then you are not going to be conscious to be able to secure anybody else’s mask.
This also applies when learning to love yourself. If you are not able to give yourself the love that you so truly deserve and need, how are you going to give it to another?
Many people were not loved like they should have been during childhood and into adulthood. If this was the case for you, how would you know how to love yourself? Most of the time, learning to love yourself is not easy and cannot always be self-taught if you were never given the love you needed during formative years.
Sometimes allowing others to love you until you learn what it is like to love yourself works. Allowing God to love you and opening your heart to that love is going to be very important as well.
Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors, and she talks a lot about vulnerability and essentially loving ourselves. Loving ourselves is more than just a feeling you have about yourself — it is so much more.
Brene Brown talks about setting boundaries as a way of showing love to ourselves. She states, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”?
Having strong boundaries is one way to show ourself love. I have worked with countless people who struggle with “people pleasing” and setting boundaries, and in all honesty I have struggled with that myself.
Showing up for ourselves in terms of what feels right and what feels wrong is a way of loving ourselves. I can think of countless times I have allowed things and people in my life that were not good for me. This was not showing self love. Having the boundaries and showing up for myself and what I believe to be right for myself and not allowing anything less is one way I practice self love today.
Learning to Love Yourself
Learning to love ALL of yourself is difficult. This means body, mind, soul. Yes, all of yourself. For many people, learning to love your body is a challenge. We live in a time where having the perfect body and “look” is idealized. Billions of dollars are spent advertising what we “should” look like. If you do not fit into that mold of how you “should” or “should not” look, this is where we, as a society, get into trouble.
I see the things on TV telling me that I should not have wrinkles, I need a youthful face, a certain body type, not to have fat, that I need makeup to look a certain way, and the list goes on. Have you found yourself having negative self talk regarding what you look like? I think most of us can answer “yes” to that question. I know I can find myself comparing my body and how I look to this idea of what I “need” to look like.
Learning to shut the chatter off from the outside world and love yourself for who you are today is what’s important. The fact is that there is no perfect. Everybody has been created differently, and most importantly, in God’s image.
Start a new recording in your head that you are beautiful and perfect no matter what you look like and what kind of body you have. This will not be easy, but starting a positive dialogue with yourself is going to be a first step. Get rid of that self judgment.
Quotes to Inspire You
For me, quotes can really inspire me to make some changes in my life. Have you ever heard a quote and your heart just says, “YES!”? I keep a folder on my phone of inspirational quotes for myself and to send to friends when they are struggling or might just need a reminder that they are loved AND to love themselves, too.
Here are some quotes I have picked up along my own journey:
“Love yourself so much that when somebody treats you wrong, you recognize it.” ~ Rena Rose
“It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine.” ~ Unknown
“Loving myself will work miracles in my life.” ~ Unknown
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” ~ Anna Taylor
“Stop hating yourself for everything you aren’t, and start loving yourself for everything you already are.” ~ Unknown
“As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health — food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is, “LOVE OF ONESELF.” ~ Charlie Chaplin
“I have decided to stop saying yes to people and situations that don’t support my well-being. Instead, I will say yes to my happiness, and yes to my growth, and yes to all the people and things that inspire me to be authentic and whole, while at the same time accepting me just the way I am. My yes, from here on out, is my pledge to live honestly, my commitment to love myself fiercely, and my cry to create my best life possible. Yes.” ~ Scott Stabile
I have to say one of my favorite songs right now is “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I had the opportunity to see her perform it live, and it was so powerful. The song speaks about how despite our feelings about ourself and how we can get down on ourselves, God thinks we are perfect.
After all, what God says about us is what truly matters. We are children of God and like I said, He created us perfectly, in His eyes. If you have a moment, I encourage you to look up the lyrics and listen to the song, “You Say,” by Lauren Daigle.
God Wants You to Love Yourself, Too
Having a successful faith life is going to start with you learning to love yourself. This does not mean we are worshiping ourselves or being narcissistic.
God does not want us to go through our lives filled with hate, disappointment, or insecurities about ourselves. God has created us perfectly in His image. In this day and age, it is difficult not to compare ourselves to others or the idea of what we should look like. God designed you and made you perfectly the way you are, and He loves you just that way.
Here are some Bible verses telling us of God’s love:
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” ~ Song of Solomon 4:7
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” ~ Psalm 139: 13-15
“For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church.” ~ Ephesians 5:29
“To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” ~ Proverbs 19:8
Something to Try at Home
This may seem like a silly exercise, but it is more challenging than you think. Take a moment, when you are alone, to look in the mirror. Take a really good look and do not look away for thirty seconds. Say out loud, “Your name, I love you” several times.
Now ask yourself, was that uncomfortable? What feelings came up for you? Were you able to look into the mirror the entire time, or did your eyes glance another direction? I know, for some, it is much easier for them to tell other people that they love them, but to tell that to themselves seems foreign.
Try to tell yourself every day that you love yourself, and if you can, do so while looking in the mirror. You matter too and your life is just as important and precious as others. Give yourself the love that you freely give to others.
Learning to love yourself is not an easy task to take on, but it is a vital one. It is something you will have to practice your whole life but it will get easier the more and more you work towards loving yourself.
Sometimes we need help getting to a point of self love, and maybe the reasons are deep rooted in the past and need to be worked through. Reaching out to a counselor might be a good idea. We did not learn these thoughts and patterns overnight.
Working through the issues that have caused you to not love yourself will not be easy work, but it will be worth it. Imagine living a life with the scope of what God wants for you and not the shades of self hatred. Learning to love yourself matters because you matter.
“Heart, hands” Courtesy of Tyler Nix, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Country Woman”, Courtesy of Republica, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Love Died Cross”, Courtesy of jclk8888, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Sunset Hope Walkway”, Courtesy of Skimejon,0717, Pixabay.com, CC0 License
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