Here’s How To Love Yourself Better (Without Being Selfish)
Why I Chose Not To Grow
Back in the 90s (remember the perms, scrunchies and overalls??), I was a young stay-at-home mom with 5 beautiful little children. They were born between 1981 and 1987, so this was a busy time.
Now, I loved being a mom and I wanted to be the best mom that I could be… But the thing is, when opportunities came my way, I’d say, “Sorry, I’m too busy!”
While that may have been true, the real reason I didn’t grab these opportunities was that I was too busy hiding behind my kids and husband…
I didn’t believe in myself. You see, I was afraid to step out of hiding in case someone discovered the real me…
And I didn’t like the real me.
Who I Am Is All I Have
So, how could I share who I was with anyone else if I didn’t love myself?
John Powell says in his book, Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am:
“I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all that I have.”
Boy, I’ve come along way since then… And this topic is important because how we love ourselves determines how we see and love others.
That’s one reason we’re not being selfish when we learn to love ourselves better. Here are 3 key steps to learning how to love yourself better this year:
Step #1 – Get To Know Yourself
Okay, this sounds a bit cliche… but how can we love ourselves if we don’t even know who we are? For that matter, how can we truly love someone else if we don’t know who they are?
This reminds me of the character, Maggie Carpenter, played by Julia Roberts in the movie Runaway Bride (a 90s movie). Maggie is preparing for her upcoming wedding after leaving three previous fiancés at the altar. The problem with Maggie is that her fiancés fall in love with the woman they think she is…
But Maggie is lost and doesn’t really know who she is. At one point in the comedy, Ike (the nosey reporter who becomes her love interest) exclaims in frustration to Maggie:
“You’re so lost, you don’t even know what kind of eggs you like!”
So in the end, none of her fiancés, until Ike, know the real Maggie.
Now, I hope you know what kind of eggs you like (or whether you even like them)… but it’s okay if you don’t. The point is that we need to know and understand ourselves to love ourselves well. Some of the things that we need to understand are what…
- Motivates us
- Our Strengths are
- We value
- Triggers us
- Excited us
- Our vulnerabilities are
- We want and don’t want for our lives
- Gifts, talents and abilities we have
Step #2 – Practice Grace For Yourself
We practice grace for other people, especially the people that we really love. But it can be much harder to be kind to myself because then it means accepting myself as I am. And I don’t always like me when I mess up.
At the same time, there’s something freeing about accepting myself and acknowledging that I can’t do it right all the time. Being gracious toward myself means…
- Allowing myself to have a bad day
- Giving myself space to grieve losses
- Not ignoring the “ugly” parts of myself and instead, processing through them
Now, I’m not suggesting that we should let our feelings rule our lives…
I heard a quote once that said something like, “It’s okay to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, just don’t build a home there.”
Instead, do what you need to do to walk through the intense emotions whether that’s journaling, exercising, calling a friend, spending time in worship, or meeting with a mentor, counsellor or therapist.
Just get started.
And when you’re getting started, begin with just five or ten minutes a day and be consistent. Does that feel like too little time for you? Think about it this way, 5 minutes a day adds up to 35 minutes a week, which would add up to 1,820 minutes/year. That’s a lot of time when you add it up.
Gain small successes first before trying to gain bigger victories. Grow your confidence from there (For more on this topic, read Growth Isn’t Automatic: 4 Key Steps To Be Intentional About Your Personal Growth).
Step #3 – Grow And Give Back
When new opportunities come our way, in order to step into them, we’ll need to learn new ways of doing things. This means that we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.
New opportunities will also bring new challenges that we’ve never faced before. To wrestle these challenges to the ground, we’ll need new insights, information and actions.
Here’s the thing about personal growth, investing in ourselves means that we value ourselves enough to put ourselves into places where we can grow with people who are like-minded or further ahead in the journey. It enables us to have something to give back to other people.
In the end, personal growth isn’t for us alone — it’s for community.
However, I cannot give what I do not have. So, when I invest in myself, then I have more to pour out into other people.
How You Can Love Yourself Better
How do you love yourself better?
For one, there is always more to know about yourself. Every different experience you have gives you a new awareness of who you are and who God has made you to be. With each new experience, take a moment to evaluate them as they happen to learn more about who you are.
Is there a specific area in your life that you would really like to grow in?
In my experience, when we grow in one area, that growth will overflow into other areas of our lives, so be strategic but keep it simple and choose one area to grow.
Your life tells a story and that story is valuable. So don’t hold back this year.
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