“I don’t think I know how to love myself,”
…is what I said to myself one morning about 9 months ago. Which, when the thought really sunk in as a truth, felt very foreign and almost impossible.
“Of course I know how to love myself” I thought right after that. “I know I’m smart and interesting and capable and talented, etc etc etc” and “I mean…look at all I’ve accomplished and created! I’m awesome! Yeah…I’m awesome. Yep…totally awesome”
But the truth is that underneath that, was a deep shell that was protecting a wounded and vulnerable heart and a feeling that I truly have no idea what it REALLY means to love myself. My SELF. That inner spirit.
The self that is apart from the accomplishments, or the haircut, or the tight and toned body, or a great relationship, or the outside value I place on myself based on what I think others think of me.
This all started last year as I began to question everything about my life and my business. The “why am I doing this?” conversation I talked about in one of my last blogs.
And got further under a microscope when I contemplated shutting down the defining thing about me at this point in my business…Wildheart.
My feelings were “who am I if I’m not Sally Hope, Leader of the Wildheart Revolution.” And it was a similar thought I had when I left the music industry, “who am I if I’m not Sally Hope, bass player in a rock n roll band.”
And then it spiraled into even deeper insecurities like, “who’s going to think I’m cool if I put on 10 pounds” or “who’s going to take me seriously when I look so tired.”
Because I was so tired. Tired of trying to find happiness and love in places where it’ll never exist. (Tweet this)
As I got further down the rabbit hole of these thoughts, it occurred to me that I was only feeling valuable inasmuch as I felt like I was doing something cool or “valuable” in my life, throughout the perceived (and completely made up in my mind) eyes of other people.
I loved myself when I was skinny and tan and traveling the world in an RV, writing and sharing my experiences and having the time of my life. Or running my business from the beach. Or scouring the mountains of Montana on my motorcycle. But not so much when I was feeling depressed, or disliking my business, or feeling lost and directionless, and like I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life anymore.
That is…my love for myself had some serious conditions.
I only got to be lovable when I met these certain criteria I had set up for myself. Anything that fell outside of that I felt was unlovable. And punishable by negative thoughts and self-hatred.
And that’s when I truly realized that this is a big problem. And a form of perfectionism and control coming to the surface.
It happened slowly and then quickly. I had been aware of it in years previous, but I always found some outside thing to fix it..for a little while at least. Traveling, or relationships, or making lots of money doing really cool things, or having a life that people wanted.
And ultimately, there would come a time when those things would no longer serve their purpose in my life. They would no longer make me happy. The luster would wear off.
Because at some point, you want to put your clothes in a drawer instead of in a suitcase. At some point, the person you’re in a relationship with will let you down, annoy you, frustrate you.
Eventually, (perhaps) the business you built out of fun and whimsy because an empire that requires more of you then you’re wanting to give.
And when that happens, and you don’t already love yourself enough to find your own intrinsic happiness, you will fall apart.
I’m not saying any of this to depress you. Or to get any compliments. Or to hear you say “don’t feel sad Sally! I love you and you’re awesome!”
I’m saying it more just to describe the landscape of what it looks like when we (all of us) engage in the very damaging practice of not loving ourselves.
Through my inspection of this topic I’ve realized that loving yourself (or not loving yourself) shows up in all kinds of unexpected ways, like:
- When you don’t stand up for yourself when someone says something inappropriate, or hurtful.
- Or when you engage in activities that make you feel lonely, depleted, and less-than.
- Or when you say no to something you really want to do because you’re afraid of the unknown.
- Or when you say yes to something you don’t want to say yes to because you’re afraid of letting someone down.
- Or when you stay in a situation that you know in your heart isn’t the best option for you, but you’re too afraid to leave because you don’t think you’ll ever find another whatever-it-is again (ie “I don’t trust that I’m worthy enough to have what I truly want and deserve”)
- Or when you look in the mirror and hate what you see (wrinkles, jiggly tummy, stretch-marks, too big too little too not enough) and feel like you are less valuable in the world because of it.
- Or when you feel like you can only go see or talk to your friends if you have something positive or happy to share.
- Or you feel like you can’t go somewhere without putting makeup on because you’re afraid someone will notice your eyes are puffy from crying and they might ask you about it, or they’ll think you’re old.
- Or when you compare your life to other people’s lives and feel like there is something wrong with the way you’re doing it.
What was it like for you reading this list? Do you see yourself in any of it?
My guess is that you do. Because so many of us struggle with this.
We “seek” happiness and validation and love, but we also all forget that by seeking it, we won’t find it.
Because it doesn’t live “out there,” it lives within us.
Now, I imagine what you might be thinking. It’s probably the same thing I used to think whenever I’d hear that phrase.
I’d either be like “yeah yeah blah blah love yourself I get it,” or I’d be like “Ok. Yes. I know you’re right, but seriously…what does that actually look like? How do I actually do it?”
And the second question is the mission I’ve been on for months. It’s part of my “Hell Bent On Happiness” experiment (more to come on that). Where I know it’s time to really GET IT. Live it. And understand it in a real way. Because otherwise I’ll continue to be on my own hamster wheel of unhappiness, waiting for something or someone else to fix it.
I’ve been experimenting in really tangible ways, really deep ways, and also really silly ways. But I wanted to share some things with you that I’ve been trying, just in case you’re in the same boat as me and wanting to break the bad habit of beating yourself up.
So here’s my latest cocktail of self-love:
1) Read the book “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” and do the meditation. Here is the way to do the meditation:
2) From the same book, have a repeating loop in your mind of “I love myself I love myself I love myself I love myself.”
I do this as soon as I start to worry about anything, or feel sad or mad or like I messed up. I do it when I start to have negative thoughts or start to stress out. I play it on loop to fill my mind with positive thoughts instead of the negative ones that usually are on loop.
3) Put this quote up in my room “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” (I’m not sure the author of this quote so if anyone knows please tell me so I can properly reference it!)
4) Watch this India Arie video (she sang it live at the Oprah event I was just at. Definitely cried)
5) Wearing less or no makeup, or noticing the times when I do want to wear if for reasons other than just “I feel like it”
6) Ask myself “If I truly loved myself, would I let myself experience this?” (this applies to situations, thoughts, people, etc) This is also from the book I mentioned above.
I know these things don’t seem like much, but I can tell you that they are really starting to make a difference. They might not be the cure-all, but it’s better than blindly placing my happiness in the hands of someone or something else. I’m really trying this time.
“Self-love” is one of those nebulous things that everyone talks about. It’s different than ego. It’s different than arrogance.
And really, what else is there? How wonderful of a world would it be if we all believed this? #livewildheart
So that’s my personal mission. One step along the “Hell Bent On Happiness” trail. And I’m wondering…won’t you join me?
Is this something you struggle with too? Could it be possible that there are some hidden self-love blunders in your life as well? You down to explore and discover? If so, I want to hear from you!
In the comments below I want to know this:
- Did you resonate with any part of this? Do you ever struggle with truly loving yourself?
- If so, what are 3 things you do to flip the script?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below and if you know someone that needs to see this message, please “like” it and share it with them. I figure the more people we have who feel worthy and valuable, the better.
I love myself, I love myself, I love myself….