Barriers to Self-Love: Why can’t I love myself?

Self-Love is simply Self-acceptance…

You’ve probably heard the words’ self-love so often that it has become cliched or unreal to you. People keep talking about self-love but somehow you just can’t relate to it. In some ways, it ends up making you even feel worse about yourself

What does it mean? Is it treating yourself with a bright and shiny new thing you’ve been coveting, or something as simple as embracing compassion?

Perhaps you had a childhood that was filled with verbal taunts, criticism, put-downs and never felt good enough or adequate. All of these have now contributed to our self-loathing. For some, it wouldn’t even be self-hate per se; to them, they just do not feel they are worthy of love both from themselves and from others. Their evaluation of self has diminished drastically and other traumas in their lives gradually contribute to the loss of self. All these can limit the credibility you give yourself.

Self-love walks hand in hand with self-acceptance, to have one is to have the other.

Before the end of this, I want you to take up a pen and a writing sheet split it into two sides. On one side, write out those flaws you hate about yourself, things that make you feel hate for your person, and why no one should love you. Then on the other size, write the things you minimally fancy about yourself and the things you are pretty good at. At the end of this, I am going to tell you what to do with this.

So, first off, let’s define self-love. In my recent social media question tag, I asked my followers what they believed Self-Love is and as always, I got varying responses. Below are some of them;

Self-love is being wholesomely aware of your being, knowing what hurts, what makes you happy, and how to work around all of that while you go on with life, (and its struggles.) -@Ashabi_ade

The best thing in the world If you don’t have that great love for yourself, you will never truly be happy… And it breeds high self-esteem, It amazing. -@timegontell

Self-love is being good, kind, considerate to oneself, having a healthy sense of value for oneself. Not necessarily putting yourself first all the time, but also not doing things that would have a long-lasting or permanent negative impact on oneself in a bid to help others  -@brisin_advocate

Being able to improve and learn for myself… being true to myself not trying to be anyone else. And doing everything to attract and dispense of positive and negative energy respectively. Lastly peace of mind, serenity within. -@emmy_uzor

Discipline… Making small promises to yourself and keeping them. Good Self-talk. Encouraging yourself in your inner self-dialogue. Forgiving yourself. Understanding that making mistakes is a part of the human experience. -@C_Savignon

On the other hand, I also got responses like;

Honestly? I don’t know. And I haven’t heard anything tangible to make me understand it. For now, self-love will always sound like selfishness to me -@sir_odymufc

Selflessness – but backwards. -@DsgnrLuke

First, from the point of Christ, which is how I see love, love is for others to feel from you not you to feel for yourself. The basic definition of love is intense feeling of care and affection for someone… so the concept of self-love sounds selfish to me. -@sir_odymufc

From the different responses, it is obvious that we all have varying understanding of Self-love. Some believe it is just selfishness under guise while some see it as the key to happiness and accepting yourself with your flaws.

And to an extent I can say those who see it as selfishness aren’t exactly wrong, nor are they entirely right. Humans are selfish by nature, so that inevitable. Self-Love requires a level of selfishness for it to be called so. It means looking after yourself, constantly loving yourself, and giving yourself attention, which may seem selfish to other people. But that doesn’t make it a bad thing, there are times when you just have to put yourself and your mental health first.

What then are the barriers hindering you from loving yourself?

  • Believing that love only comes from others: When you only believe that love only comes from others and not from you to yourself
  • Feeling guilty or selfish about self-love: Feeling like you are doing something wrong when you give yourself any form of self-appreciation
  • Constantly comparing yourself to others: Anytime you compare yourself to somebody else, you are setting yourself up for 2 things; ‘I am better than’ or ‘I am less than’. The age we currently live in doesn’t help much in curtailing this. Social media will have you wanting to do that constantly
  • Feelings of Unworthiness: That feeling that you are unworthy of anything good, often based on previous disappointment and unattained success, probably in relationships, career, etc. So, you begin to feel you are not worthy of being loved or of been appreciated.

A lack of self-love can be rooted in feeling that you don’t deserve “it”, and by it, I mean “everything”.Your dreams, a certain lifestyle, admiration, success, everything good this world has to offer.

You believe there is something about you that can’t and won’t get what you desire

How do you overcome these barriers?

  1. Accept yourself; Understand that you are far from perfect and you cannot change who you are, no matter how much you try hard to. You need to accept that and channel that energy into something that makes you feel good about yourself.
  2. Push yourself; You need to push yourself and push hard. Make a conscious effort to turn things around for yourself to exceed your goals and your expectations.
  3. Congratulate yourself. You need self-approval and validation from yourself, just as much as you think you need it from others. Congratulate yourself for the little things and the big things.
  4. Improve yourself; Find something you care about besides yourself, and invest your time in it. It could be a skill; develop it, or a bucket list; tick them off. Do things that will improve your life.
  5. Challenge yourself. Express yourself. Educate yourself. Maybe just take baby steps and open this with ‘tolerate yourself’, since for people feeling low it really can be the first step.

On a final note; if you are having relationship challenges due to your self-loathe, you need to understand for you to be able to truly love another person, you must first love yourself by respecting yourself and knowing YOU. Loving oneself is different from being arrogant, conceited, egocentric, or narcissistic, it is just self-acceptance.

In the third paragraph, I told you to write those flaws you hate about yourself and the things you minimally fancy about yourself and the things you are pretty good at, I believe you did that. I want you to look at the first one; these are your flaws, your imperfections, your weaknesses. I am going to let you in on a secret here *you are not the only one that feels these things on this sheet, every single human on this planet has them, they have those things they hate about themselves*

I want you to accept them as a part of you like that crooked toenail or that particular strand of hair growing in that weird spot. Accept it, embrace it as a part of your and what makes you who you are.

Now look at the second list; these are your strengths, your capabilities and I want you to remember every time you face failure or depression or when life knocks you on your feet; that there is something good about you; a bright side to you and rise again to get that WIN!

Remember, Life is about balance, your weaknesses and strengths must coexist.

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