“Dare to love yourself
as if you were a rainbow
with gold at both ends.”
Do you know how special you are?
Like fingerprints, we’re each a one of a kind.
Allow me to tell you a little story about myself.
I spent so much of my childhood desperately wanting to be the “same,” to be accepted, to have a place that I belonged. I constantly repressed and condemned parts of myself because I knew that being true would likely come with isolation, rejection, or misunderstanding – the last thing any teenager would want. I avoided any opportunity to speak my truth, quietly giving the platform to those I was surrounded with in order to avoid any shake up in the narrative. I allowed myself to become an echo of whoever I found myself around. Issues surrounding self-esteem and self-worth ran rampant throughout this period of time. I hated my body. I hated my interests. I hated my sensitivity and ability to understand others on a deep level. I hated everything that made me different from the people I was around. I allowed others opinions, perceptions, and expectations of me to determine who I was and what I was all about, and I suffered deeply for years because of it. And, in attaching myself and basing who I was on these things, I seemed to always attract situations and people which continued to reinforce those ideas.
I realize now that my early years could have been drastically different and incredibly more fulfilling had I been able to let all of that go. Had I allowed myself to be unabashedly me. Had I been able to say, “This is me. I love me and that’s all that matters. Take me or leave me.”
It wasn’t until I had been out of high school for a few years that I really began to come into myself. Learning who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t. My values and passions in life. My talents. My hopes and dreams.
And, in doing so, I found something I hadn’t ever experienced up until that point.
I can’t begin to explain the shifts that happened when I made choice to let go. To live in my full light and to allow myself to be 100% me without the weight of other people’s opinions and expectations. I learned how to be strong. I learned how to trust myself. I found a path in life that I’m deeply passionate about. I allowed myself to live in my authenticity, finding so many things about myself that were precious and beautiful, and ultimately, I began to love myself deeply.
Whereas I used to be bullied for being “weird,” I now honor my weirdness.
Whereas I used to be picked on for being “sensitive,” I now love my sensitivity.
Whereas I used to be teased for “thinking too deeply,” I now celebrate my thoughtfulness.
Everything I used to despise because it made me different, I am now so grateful for. Different is not “bad.” It’s not weird. It’s not wrong. It’s what makes me, me, and I’m so excited that I get to be me right now, in this moment.
We all want to be loved and accepted. This is just part of the human condition. The problem is that most people look towards the external for this, when it first starts within.
How can we expect to be loved and accepted if we don’t first love and accept ourselves, fully and completely?
As cliché as it is, it’s true. And to add onto this, when we don’t love ourselves, we can’t seem to find anything to be passionate about or happy about. We lack purpose, drive, and confidence. We find ourselves stuck in a terrible job, a terrible relationship, or a terrible environment. We beat ourselves up over small mistake and focus solely on the negative. We don’t consider our needs a priority. We neglect our feelings and our health. We’re self-destructive and self-sabotaging.
Alternatively, when we live in a space of self-love, we matter. We’re important. We come first, always. This doesn’t mean we’re selfish, it means we recognize that we can’t give anything with an empty cup. We go after what we love, and try new things. We recognize when things aren’t serving us, and let them go, whether they’re relationships, situations, belief systems, or environments. We have compassion for ourselves when we make mistakes, because we’re human and it’s going to happen. We also have more compassion for others, as well. After all, life is a lesson. We stop reacting to and attaching ourselves to other people’s opinions. We stop trying to live up to their expectations. We’re authentically us.
And almost magically, our lives start to reflect this love back to us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
Sometimes it can be challenging to love ourselves, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. So, how can we start making this shift now?
- Write down everything you love about yourself. Parts of your appearance, style, traits, behaviors, interests – anything and everything. Feel the love as you write them down. When you’re done, re-read the list to yourself as though you’re reading it to a loved one. Tell yourself, “I love __ about me. I love that I do ___. I love that I am ____.” Pay attention to the shifts in your energy and emotional state as you do this. This is why working with affirmations can be incredibly powerful.
- Mirror work. One of my favorite ways to show myself some love when I’m feeling less than is by talking to myself in the mirror. As silly as it may feel at first, go to a mirror and tell yourself, “I love you” until you feel it resonate throughout your being and believe it wholeheartedly. It may take 20, 50 times. It might even be a bit of an emotional experience. Allow it. It’s a release of years of false things we’ve been telling ourselves or we’ve been told by other people. We are lovable. We are perfect. We are good.
- Recognize that you are not your mistakes. Your mistakes are what makes you human. They’re how we learn and grow. Treat them as though they have something to teach you, and don’t allow them to define who you are. Our inner critic likes to keep us small and “safe” by asserting how wrong and “bad” we are. It keeps us from dreaming big and going after those dreams. Forgive yourself and move on. There’s a whole world waiting for you to try again and succeed.
- Let go of toxicity. If there’s anything in your life right now that is not serving you and allowing you space to grow and thrive, let it go. This also includes the past. This allows you space to get in touch with yourself on a deeper and loving level. It might be difficult, but know that once you do, an entire world of possibilities open up for you. More loving relationships, more fulfilling work, and a much better environment for you to live your highest purpose. It’s hard to love ourselves when we’re surrounded by people who make us feel like we’re unlovable or when we’re constantly reminding ourselves of the mistakes we’ve made before.
- Get in touch. In order to make sure our cup is full and we’re taken care of, we have to be in touch with what’s going on inside. Maybe it’s meditating. Maybe it’s going for a walk outside. Maybe it’s art or music. Maybe it’s writing. However it is that you can connect, is perfect. Connecting with ourselves is an important aspect of loving ourselves because without it, we have no idea what we’re feeling, what we need, nor how to satisfy those things. It keeps us from neglecting ourselves and giving us the much needed opportunity to simply just be, without the external mumbo jumbo. It also allows us the chance to see what kind of self-talk we have. If it’s anything less than loving and supportive, change it. Why talk to yourself in a way that you would never to someone you love?
- Celebrate the accomplishments. If you made a healthy meal, celebrate it. If you brushed your teeth twice today, honor that. If you completed an important task, throw yourself a party. Celebrate each and every thing you accomplish, however small or big. This can have a huge effect on your overall self-worth and confidence, which will lead you to wanting to try newer, more exciting and complex tasks in the future. It sets you up for more success and more self-love.
- Start saying no. This goes back to having an empty cup. Saying “yes” when you simply don’t have it in you nor want to, sets you up for resentment and total burnout. It’s okay to say no. You come first. Of course, we can’t say “no” to bills and important things like work (though, wouldn’t that be nice!) but we can choose what to do and what not to do with the other things. If you’re tired and your friends invite you out, tell them, “maybe next time.” Wait until you’re in a better state so that you can actually enjoy yourself. If you’ve worked all day and there’s dishes in the sink, “I’ll do it later.” Take care of you. Say no.
- Nourish yourself. Drink lots of water. Eat fresh and colorful food. Exercise. Your body is a temple and it needs to be treated as such, otherwise things like fatigue, illness, pains, and even mood disorders can manifest themselves. Keeping our bodies healthy gives us space to take care of our mind and spirit. More room for doing what we love and loving what we do.
- Embrace what makes you different. As I explained earlier, different is not bad or wrong. It makes us who we are. Celebrate the fact that there is no one else like you on this planet. Honor the things that set you apart from everyone you know. Those tend to be the things they love about you the most. Isn’t it time you feel the same?
- Be realistic. You’re going to have days in which you don’t feel particularly loving or happy. You’re also not going to feel this way each and every moment of the day. You’re human and part of being human is both making mistakes and experiencing a spectrum of emotions. The important thing is to allow them to happen and then move forward. Remember that there can’t be a rainbow without some rain. Honor the rain.
Life is about transformation and change. Nothing is permanent and nothing is static. But, it’s imperative that we realize that we are beautiful and special just as we are, with all of our light and our darkness. We must learn to speak lovingly to and connect with ourselves, let go of the past, our mistakes, and toxic things, say no more often, celebrate our accomplishments, embrace what makes us “us,” take care of our bodies, and be realistic about what comes with being human.
A life fulfilled is a life of love.
Love yourself and life will love you back.