A little known fact about me that’s contrary to how I have always tried so hard to come across…
I have loved myself for a painfully small fraction of the time that I have been lucky enough to to live on this planet.
This is going to be a lengthy post because it’s everything that I wish someone would have told me when I was younger. It’s everything that if you make the commitment to apply or at least try, I promise that your life will drastically change for the better.
I spent my whole life trying to be a good kid, and I was. I never got into trouble, I got accepted into to some of the best universities in the nation, I graduated with honors and did my best to accomplish everything that I thought was expected of me. I tried hard to get everyone to like me and I tried to please everyone by telling them what they wanted to hear (and morphing into what I thought they wanted me to be).
I tried so hard to be cool; that’s all I wanted. I had this perpetual fear, even well into my twenties, about getting sent to the principal’s office of life alone, abandoned, broken and rejected. I always felt like I had to copy someone or something and I never felt like I was good enough for anyone, not even my parents. If I was good enough for my parents, they wouldn’t have gotten divorced and they wouldn’t have found other people to go ride off into the sunset with while I had to pretend to be happy for them and my “new families.” I felt like I was getting left in the dust and forgotten about. My parents are amazing and did everything that they could to make all of that as seamless as possible, but no matter how amicable and loving and “well” it is handled, divorce forever changes the way that you communicate with your parents and as a family.
I could never be the “best friend” of anyone even though I tried so hard to find someone to share a “BFF” necklace with. I could never be the girl that everyone looked up to instead of the girl that everyone picked on.
When I did actually encounter good people and situations, I would sabotage it and engage in negative self-talk that would validate my doubts and destructive behavior, my depression and my “unlucky” life. I remember when I was in middle school, I actually signed my own yearbook in 4 different types handwriting and wrote these notes to myself saying how awesome and amazing I was. These notes were supposed to be from my “really good/cool friends that went to another school,” just so when I asked people to sign my yearbook, there would be more than just a few signatures with a lack of heartfelt notes and surplus of blank space.
I continued that behavior of faking love around me and faking love for myself for more than the following decade.
Throughout my life, I watched people who I thought were less deserving, less talented and far less kind catch all the big breaks and all the perfect relationships while everything I touched turned to sh*t and I had no life, no REAL friends, no guys ever chasing me, a laundry list of exes that broke my heart and no identity or life to call my own. I bought all the books and I tried everything. I really wanted to love myself but nothing worked. Deep down I was insecure, unhappy and scared.
Besides the life-long common denominator I had of going after emotionally unavailable projects and giving any good guy that would come within 30 feet of me a hard time while I would start to ovulate at the mere sight of a reluctant, commitment avoidant guy that I would have to “win” over, the other very strong common denominator I had was a deep lack of self-love.
It’s one thing to identify where there’s a lack of self love, but a lot of you have asked me: HOW do you love yourself?! How???
I get it. GOD do I get it. I don’t know what’s out there, all I know is what worked for me and if I can be at the place that I am now of unapologetic confidence, self acceptance and love then ANYone can. So, how to love yourself…
First off, know that you aren’t in any way alone. For most of us, our experiences as kids and our parents were not much help in teaching and instilling in us “how to love yourself.” So we get to a certain age and we’re either tired from the unrelenting gang-bang beating associated with a lack of self-love, or we’ve attracted so much sh*t and so many f*cktards into our lives that we’re practically a walking billboard for “what not to do.” Soon enough, we’re needing to have 3 glasses of wine a night just to sleep while clutching a “Don’t Jump” book.
I tried the affirmations thing, I tried putting 8172638217 post-it notes on my mirror and every wall in my house and…nope. I stared yoga but I found myself panting through class, not getting a hold of my breath and feeling worse than when I started. I didn’t know what I was doing. Nothing changed. Self love what?
I was looking for an external answer and new identity that I could dive deep into and pursue because I was too scared of turning inward and facing my pain, my fears and myself. It was too much of a mess and there was nothing out there that provided a clear-cut, step by step map on how to love yourself.
I was sick of the pain, sick of the CONSTANT second guessing of myself and analyzing the sh*t out of everything that some guy said, did or didn’t do. I was sick and tired of being a magnet for guys that were reckless with my heart. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This is what I’ve learned and this is how I started to like and ultimately love myself and feel at ease and happy in my own skin:
If you continually find yourself unappreciated, disrespected, dumped, abandoned, rejected and lied to by others, it is 1000% because you have a lack of self love.
If you’re in a relationsh*t or a friendsh*t and you’re unhappy because you know you’re not getting the respect that you deserve, but you continue to stay and “fight” for your love and “fight” for the relationship, guess what? That’s not “unconditional love” and this is NOT the movies. It’s having an extreme LACK self love.
If you’ve finally gotten out of a relationship where you were mistreated and disrespected, but still treat yourself poorly and miss him on the daily… YUP!!… Lack of self love.
Second (about to get realllllyyyy real with you right here):
It takes so much more than repeating a mantra in front of the mirror or writing affirmations in a feelings diary. It takes more than a spray tan, more than a boob job, more than injections, more than clothes, more than shoes (shoes are a good start though, for me anyway), MORE than anything you can buy. It takes more than all of the yoga classes in the world.
You could have the Dalai Lama come to your house and have tea with you every morning and then do 7 hours of Vinyasa Yoga and Transcendental Meditation with Russel Simmons and drink water that was blessed by the Pope and fart clouds of peace and as great as all of that is… It wouldn’t make you LOVE you. It wouldn’t even make you like you. You may think you’re cool for a hot minute, but you want to ultimately love yourself. For reals.
Guess what? IT.TAKES.YOU.
Everything else that I just mentioned is a northern star that will lead you in the right direction, but if you don’t get behind you and just continue to go through the motions, you are holding you back, NOT your parents, NOT the kids that bullied you when you were 15, NOT your exes, NOT your teacher or your coach or your boss or your friends…YOU.
If you already know all of this stuff but still find yourself not knowing how to love yourself, feeling awful and being a supporting character in the sh*tty movie that has become your life, guess what that means?
It means that your comfort zone is fear.
How am I so sure of this? Because that was my reality, that was me.
I had daddy issues, mommy issues, abandonment issues, issues with guys, issues with my exes, issues with friends until it dawned on me that my life had one big issue that required “rescuing.”
I was waiting to be rescued so I could “start living.”
I never had this lightbulb, “AHA!” moment where I just suddenly ‘felt the love’ and loved myself, but the moment I made a commitment to treat myself no better than I was treating everyone else that I was so concerned with pleasing and impressing, my life forever changed and I was never, ever the same.
Just like it’s so hard to deal with the pain of a breakup and you don’t want to stop thinking about the “what if’s,” you need to realize the consequential “what if’s” of continuing to neglect you and realize that by making a commitment to you, you automatically start murdering the self doubt, the self hate and start opening the door for the unapologetically confident girl that you’ve ALWAYS been, to emerge.
- You need to make yourself responsible for your own happiness and not tie your worth to the actions of others. If you make YOURSELF the dictator of your own happiness, you’ll be in a position to start better caring for yourself because no one with an abundance of testosterone and a set of balls can ever come along and have you planning your future wedding in 2 seconds flat.
- Take note of the people, relationships, friendships, activities, characteristics (in yourself and in others), etc. that make you feel good. Conversely, take note of the ones that make you feel sh*tty and work up the strength to gracefully exit the pain. One of the biggest, most impactful and significant ways that you can build your self love, power and confidence is by respecting and looking out for yourself enough that you can walk away from people and relationships that make you feel bad, EVEN WHEN it breaks your heart to do so.
- Accept your family for who they are and know that nothing was your fault. Your parents did the best they could at the time; we’re all doing the best that we can and there is nothing in the past that was significant enough that it has the right to rob you of your present and your future. No one will have the perfect parents and no one will be the perfect parents.
- Forgive those that have hurt you (read this if you haven’t yet because I have a much less conventional opinion on forgiveness and what it means) and most importantly, forgive yourself.
- Stop secretly hoping that every guy you meet is “The One.” The second that I stopped trying to control everything and started treating myself well by looking for the good in my own life, I started living in the moment and stopped being so fearful of the unknown.
- Cats will never bark. I accepted that I kept dating cats. I got so down on myself, so heartbroken and further hated myself so much because I couldn’t get a cat to bark. Cats meow. I was blaming myself for being the cat lady with cats that meowed!
- You’ll never loose by going with your gut and reality. Not your heart and NOT your libido your gut is always right.
- You can’t go with your gut if you don’t trust yourself. Trust is key. Just like self love, you’ll never be able to trust others if you can’t trust yourself.
- Make it your #1 priority to stop in your tracks when you start to think negatively and doubt yourself. I’ve written movie and television scripts and let me tell you, NO script will sell without a dynamic character. Who the hell would go see Taken if Liam Neeson didn’t take any action and just checked his Instagram for any updates on the kidnappers of his daughter? Dynamic characters are unforgettable. They’re captivating, they can’t be duplicated and they are who everyone strives to be. GET OFF THE EMOTIONAL HAMSTER WHEEL AND BE THE DYNAMIC, BADASS CHARACTER IN YOUR OWN LIFE. The best movie scripts (with dynamic characters), have the least amount of dialogue. Talk is cheap. Stop trying to play house and play detective to try to find out if some assbag that isn’t worth being in your airspace to begin with, texted his ex back or not. Stop studying for a doctorate in understanding his excuses and excuse yourself from the f*cktards.
- Learn to be kindly honest. There is a difference between being brutally honest and being kindly honest. I find that brutality in honesty hurts and is more divisive than it is ever helpful. Be gracefully and kindly honest to everyone; speak your feelings clearly, ask for clarifications and display that you are a person who takes care of herself to everyone, especially the people that least expect it.
- Start to feel the pain. The second I stopped brushing my sh*t under the rug and started to acknowledge the pain, the insecurities and the anger I felt, I immediately disempowered those feelings and the influence they had over my thoughts, actions and subsequent life.
- Stop worrying about the opinions of others; stop trying to be liked. The second that I ran out of f*cks to give, life got better. Period. What others think of or say about you is none of your business.
- Realize that the only way a broken friendship or relationship could ever work would be if it was on their, all-about-me terms and if you accepted their hurtful behavior, which would in turn cause you to further deplete any respect you had for yourself. Empower yourself by rejecting them.
- Stay on the whitehorse. Yes, it’s hard but you will walk away with so.much.more love, self-respect AND dignity.
- Instill boundaries. I will write a post on this next. Boundaries are what protect you and allow you to feel safe, secure and happy being YOU.
You could have read all of this and still not feel a damn thing, no inspiration, no hope. I get it.
This last thing is something that really worked for me and that kickstarted me into feeling the kind of self love and confidence that I never thought was attainable.
I want you to find a photo of you when you’re around 2-4 years old. When you are at your happiest, most vulnerable and innocent. This is mine (I had just spotted Minnie Mouse):
Now, take a good look at that photo and keep it in your wallet at all times.
I want you to imagine this: If you were walking down the street and you saw someone beating the crap out of that innocent kid in the photo that just wanted to be liked and loved, what would you do?
I am positive you would intervene and rescue the kid.
Guess what? You’re still that same kid. That’s YOU.
And you’re not only personally beating the daylights out of that little, innocent child but you’re letting everyone else have a go too.
Every time you have a negative thought about yourself or are experiencing pain on account of others, take a look at that picture and if you can’t stick up for the grown you that you are today, stick up for that little one in the photo.
You’ll start attracting people who add value to your life instead of people who detract from the way you feel about yourself.
You’ll start to love yourself.