How Can I Learn to Love Myself (when I don’t know how)?
Oh gosh, where to begin.
How did liking who we are become an incredibly difficult daily struggle? When did self criticism become the norm? How did we get here?
I know how, marketing.
Back in the 60’s companies got really good at making us feel like something was missing. If we just bought their product, we would feel whole!
So the economy boomed and our self esteem went in the toilet.
Especially for women, we typically make the majority of buying decisions. We choose one brand of detergent over another. We choose one brand of toothpaste, peanut butter, and toilet paper and we stick to it!
If that sounds sexist, it’s not supposed to. It’s just true that women are doing more shopping than men when it comes to household items. Personally, I love buying new shampoo, toothpaste (why do I keep using toothpaste as an example?) and deodorant.
Billions of dollars are spent on convincing us something needs to change. Something can be improved, we can be a little bit happier if we’re a little bit prettier.
So it makes sense that it takes intentional effort to undo all the damage those messages cause on a daily basis.
Here’s how I would begin if I had to start my journey to body confidence all over again.
Please remember no one is perfect.
It’s not like you’re the only one struggling. You aren’t the first woman to feel this way and sadly, you will not be the last. Stop feeling so darn special in your suffering. The people you think have it all together, don’t.
No one does. So it’s not fair to yourself to expect something that’s impossible. If you try harder, you won’t become better. Everyone has equal intrinsic value and you cannot earn more of it — and you cannot lose it.
Start with the thing that’s easy.
I told myself doing the hard things meant getting faster results. I thought if I could tackle the biggest demons, the rest would fall to the side.
Yeah, that wasn’t a good strategy. When it comes to building self worth and confidence you need to take baby steps.
Get some momentum going so that you can look back on your progress if you feel discouraged. Starting with the big things increases your chances you won’t handle it well. You don’t have the “confidence muscle” yet, but that’s okay. You can build it.
If it’s easier for you to believe what other people say is good about you, start there. Ask a close friend you trust for some help pointing out your positive qualities. When I say positive qualities, I don’t mean physical traits.
You are more than your appearance, so liking yourself goes much deeper than just liking the way you look. Focus on character traits like honesty, loyalty, your sense of humor, or maybe generosity.
If it’s hard to believe what other people say they like about you, start with one thing you like about yourself or one thing you’re proud of. It can be the smallest thing.
Maybe you make really good chicken salad sandwiches — amazing, go make one and feel good about that. Then find something else you’re good at, and do that. Etc.
Take the attention off yourself.
When I focused too much on myself, I got overly critical, noticing flaws everywhere, and finding ways I wasn’t measuring up to other women.
So the antidote for that is literally stop thinking about YOU. Find ways to help someone else. God calls us to serve others and not live for ourselves, so if you have time to wallow in self criticism…go find someone who needs help.
Maybe a friend of yours needs someone to listen to them. Go take your grandma out for lunch and ask her about how life has changed since she was young.
When you’re looking for ways to be of service, you soon see all the opportunities to do good things in the world.
If you don’t like who you are, maybe you need to work on being a better person. Not for yourself, but for other people and serving the Kingdom of God.
Look at the facts.
Everyone has done something impressive or cool. I like to keep a running list of everything I’ve accomplished.
I call it my baller list.
All the things that make me feel like a baller.
When I start feeling critical or like what I’m doing isn’t enough, I write the list again and remind myself of the tangible things I’ve done.
Some things are subjective like, “I am pretty”
(heads up, that does NOT go on the baller list, the baller list is for objective facts about you)
This is a list of facts. Undeniable FACTS. Difficult things you’ve done.
Here’s a peek at my baller list to give you ideas:
- Ran a marathon in 2013
- Graduated from college 3 years after high school
- Paid off student loans
- Left an abusive relationship — rebuilt my whole life
- Traveled abroad alone — twice
- Started a podcast
- Called off an engagement — rebuilt my whole life again
Those are the big ones, but I have little ones too like, “drank a gallon of water a day for 30 days”
Sometimes you forget the things you’ve done, this is a good reminder than you are objectively cool.
Remember there are no extra people.
God created the universe and He made YOU in His image. That, my friend, is a big deal.
He wouldn’t make you the way you are on accident.
It’s not like He was feeling lazy when He made you and was like, “ehh, good enough — I want to clock out early”
Not liking yourself is an insult to your creator, come on man, you’re awesome!
Instead of seeing your differences and “flaws” as negative things, what if you saw them as distinguishing characteristics?
Instead of trying to be like “everyone else” what if you started reflecting on God’s purpose for making you the way you are?
Reflect on the parts of you that seem unlovable and ask Him, “what are you trying to teach me with this, Lord?”
If you struggle with body image, He might be trying to show you that you’re making your body an idol.
Anything you’re afraid to lose, or feel like you NEED in order to be happy can be an idol in your life.
God wants to be first in your life. He designed you with a need only He can fulfill. So the reason you might be struggling to feel “worthy” of being loved is because you’re making an idol of your own happiness.
It’s a tricky thing, idolatry. Please email me email@example.com if you have questions or want to talk about this further.
The best place to learn to love yourself is from the one who made you.
The creator of any new product will be able to explain all the wonderful things about it.
So get your value and identity from your source, and loving who you are gets easier.
Remember, this is a daily practice. It’s not something tangible you have and once you’ve got it, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Confidence and self love is a skill you can learn, but you can also lose it. Staying mindful and fighting against that billion dollar industry telling you you’re not good enough is a lifelong practice.
You can download my Faith Over Fear Flashcards to help in your practice!
When you download them, you’ll be added to my email list Confidently She, where I send all my best advice and ideas.
Originally published at https://www.rebekahbuege.com on May 9, 2019.