What does it man to love yourself? When I was a school kid, it was an insult to tell someone that they loved themselves. It was the same as saying that they were on themselves or up themselves. Our language has a definite obsession with people doing things to themselves! But self-love is not about narcissism or conceit. I recently asked a friend if he loved himself and he almost sounded offended. But self-love It is about compassion, acceptance and understanding.
I pointed out to this friend that if he took the same care with himself as he did with someone he truly loved, such as his children, he could say that he loved himself. But in truth, many of us do not love ourselves. We do not know how to. This is especially true for those of us who grew up in environments that were lacking love and affection.
Lack of Self-Love – What Does it Look Like?
If a person dos not accept themselves they cannot love themselves. I recently had a client who was strongly Christian. He was middle aged and had a large family with several children and grandchildren, all surprisingly fee of dramas. Yet this man found himself repulsive. He could not bare to look into the mirror. He could not speak kindly of himself as a human being. All he saw on the inside and the outside were faults. He was uncomfortable in his body, and he always had been. He was uncomfortable in himself as a person.
This man always prioritised others’ needs. In fact it fitted well with his faith to put others before himself, but it was at the expense of his own wellbeing. Perhaps this was the key reason why he found himself secretly drinking a bottle of wine each night. He had become increasingly withdrawn and was always looking for an excuse to leave family gatherings to go home alone and drink. He had prioritised drinking as his comfort, in place of healthy relationships. He did this because he simply felt as though he had nothing to offer anyone, that he was useless, ugly, old and devoid of value.
We did numerous processes around self-acceptance, letting the past go and building self-compassion. Eventually, we got to the drinking itself, which was the main reason that this man came to see me. If I had targeted the drinking first, there still would have been this resistance to creating a permanent change because his self-loathing would have prevented any kind of real transformation and he would have only started the drinking again.
This man also smoked when he drank, so that was also on his list of things to ‘fix’. Again, if I had gone straight for the smoking, I do not believe that any change would have stuck. Ditto for his depressive moods and his poor sleep, all related in some physical and or emotional form to his lack of self-love.
Self-love is fundamental to a healthy state of mind and body, because if you don not believe that you are worth it, you are not going to do what you need to do in order to keep in good shape (unless you are extremely genetically fortunate). Lack of self-love sits at the bottom of so many problems that I see in my clinic that it is always something I test for.
If you need assistance with gaining acceptance, self-compassion and motivation for your state of wellbeing, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.