Why is it so often so difficult to be kind to ourselves? Most of us would never dream of treating another person the way we treat ourselves, speaking to another the way we allow the voices in our heads to speak to us. We accept criticism and judgment from others far more easily than praise. If you don’t believe this, sit with someone and have them speak to you about something they think you should improve. Then ask them to tell you all the qualities you have that they find wonderful. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll squirm way more during the second part.
I think that for me, this is because I was raised in an environment where my worth felt determined by how well I was “doing” everything. As long as I was a good girl, following all the rules, doing everything better than everyone else, then I was enough. Affection depended on how much I could excel. Because of this, I’ve been “doing” my entire life. I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m only now beginning to understand the concept of letting myself relax and truly just be. I’ve never lived in that world. Even when I attempted to enjoy my life and have fun, I always felt guilty later … because that was time I could’ve been using to accomplish something supposedly productive. Never mind that enjoying my life actually provides me far more benefits in the long run than working myself to the bone ever has.
So, those of us who maybe don’t feel we are worthy just by existing … we have a hard time receiving love and affection, even from ourselves. We are great at giving others our focus, attention, and support. When it comes to turning that same beautiful compassion towards the person who probably needs it most – you – are you able to spread the love with ease? Or does it feel terribly foreign, like you don’t have the slightest idea how you’d even do so?
Try not to be hard on yourself if giving yourself some love and compassion doesn’t come easily, or even naturally. You have to unlearn a lifetime of training in the opposite. I think that developing the ability to truly love, accept, and celebrate yourself may be the hardest thing any of us will ever do.
I’m not suggesting you become completely selfish and don’t give any affection or generosity to others – but notice where your energy leaks exist. Are you draining yourself by extending your love to people who simply take it and give nothing back? Are you getting what you need, or are you feeling dissatisfied and frustrated in your relationships? We can’t except others to fill our cups for us, and we also can’t be the primary source of their own self-esteem. We think that if we become so important to someone else that they rely on us to feel good, we’ve won. But that’s not true – it’s an insecurity, a mechanism to try and keep the love of others. If I do this, this and this for them, they won’t leave me. It’s not really love.
So you have to begin with you. If you can’t give yourself the treatment you deserve, you won’t be able to receive that abundance from anyone else either. It all starts with giving yourself the beautiful love you spread around so freely.
I believe in you and I know that you are so worthy of your own kindness, compassion and celebration. Work on loving yourself so that you can come into your other relationships with a strong, steady foundation. You’ve got this.