Self-Love & Acceptance
Recently, I conducted a therapeutic exercise with a group of women around self-love, I asked them to name 3 things they loved about themselves and write them on a piece of paper so it could be a visual reminder when they are feeling low in themselves. I soon realised that asking to write 3 things was in fact extremely difficult and many couldn’t think of more than two. After some reflection, I asked my colleagues to do the same task. Each one of them struggled in the exact same way and needed prompts and encouragement to write attributes they loved about themselves and even then they disagreed or made a comment which devalued their self-love declaration.
If we cannot love ourselves for who we truly are, then how do we expect others to?
We place huge power on others for acceptance which creates a vulnerable imbalance in our relationships with others, and this then has further impact on the relationship with ourselves. We must learn to love who we are, but how do we do this when we are told (and sold) ideologies and ways in which can improve who we are, rather than accepting the beauty of difference and authenticity?
I believe in order to achieve self-love and acceptance; we must take back our power.
Self-love can only come from within, if you are dependent on others approval for self appreciation, you must begin work on WHY you need their approval. Why are others opinions of who we are so important to us? What do we gain from this? Why do I need to be a certain way to be ‘accepted’? If you feel slightly uneasy when I ask this then focus on that energy, if it does not provoke a positive feeling, it isn’t beneficial to our wellbeing.
So following on from this, I wanted to look into why are we so against loving ourselves. It is my belief that we have been told from a very young age that there is always room for improvement be it physically or mentally. With this it has become our norm to accept that we need to change in order to be ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ Let me give you some examples on what I mean:
‘Nobody likes a tell-tale’ – aka being honest isn’t a desirable feature, lying is better as the truth may hurt.
‘It’s just puppy fat’ – your shape is not your true self and you are expected to change as you grow older.
‘Big boys don’t cry’ – showing negative emotion devalues your credibility as a male.
‘That’s not very ladylike’ – your actions determine your worth as a female.
When reading these small but potentially harmful statements, it’s clear to see WHY we are so hard on ourselves. We have been given something called ‘Conditions of Worth’ – they create an ideal in which we strive to achieve, that is how we are accepted, if these conditions are ingrained in us from an early age they can be deep rooted in our psychological setup, this then filters throughout our lives as we grow older. Conditions of worth can be positive as it may make certain individuals strive towards a version of themselves they truly want, however, it is important to be mindful of our conditions so that we can control them rather than letting them control us.
Ideally through self-reflection and/or therapy, we can break these conditions of worth down so that we can analyse whether they have a negative or positive impact on our lives and if they are something we want to keep as a part of our standard. Once we have done this, we can set our own conditions, set our own worth and our own standards and be our authentic selves.
Learning to love ourselves starts with looking within ourselves, once you take the first step, your journey to a happier you will begin.