I used to think that loving yourself was weird. As part of GenX, I grew up thinking that I had to rely on other people to love me. Loving myself wasn’t going to happen, who does that?! My stories were that I wasn’t thin enough, smart enough, good enough, and that my emotions were just too big for other people to handle. I was a handful, and that was the belief I was sticking to.
When I was young, I “chose” perfectionism as my armor (as Brene Brown calls it), so that I would never feel hurt, and that I could prove myself worthy and lovable. Although it was faulty thinking, I believed that as long as I looked perfect, acted perfect, got perfect grades, etc, I wouldn’t feel the pain of being invisible. And maybe my parents would notice me.
Of course that was an utter failure.
At age 40 I learned that there is no perfect, it just doesn’t exist. Perfectionism caused my lifetime of anxiety, procrastination, and self-loathing. I felt anxious from the self-inflicted pressure to be something I wasn’t. Not only was I imperfect, I also wasn’t who my mother wanted me to me. I procrastinated because I felt overwhelmed by the possibility of being not good enough. I feared that the end result wouldn’t be perfect so I couldn’t even start. The Overwhelm was paralyzing. Ultimately, because I couldn’t be perfect, I was always failing myself. Hence my self-loathing.
It sucked. 0/10, I do not recommend.
When I was 40, I let go of my need to be perfect. I released the idea that I needed to behave in a certain way to be worthy and lovable, I was lovable just as I was. Showing up as myself and embracing “good enough” was more challenging than I thought initially. When you’ve always pretended and hidden your true nature, it’s really scary to finally show up as you are! But I decided that what I was doing wasn’t working and it was time to try something new.
Eventually I accepted myself as I was. My imperfect body and mind, and my imperfect actions. The first few times I sent out something that had a typo, I was horrified. It took awhile, but in the end, I could let go of self-criticism, and allow my writing to be imperfect. Nobody really cared but me anyway.
As I slowly shed layers of pretending, and put myself out into the world more and more, I began feeling less anxious and actually happier! Ultimately I found my voice, and could speak up for myself when previously I had stayed silent. I found people who were like me to spend time with, and I found new love in my life. My kids got a mom who was able to show up in a way I never had before.
I no longer felt paralyzed by other people’s thoughts or beliefs. I had my own.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took many hours of meditation, yoga, journaling, and surrounding myself with supportive people. But I realized that I liked who I was. I genuinely loved whom I had become. Actually I had always been her, I was just seeing her for the first time, shining light on my true self. I allowed her out into the Universe to be visible to others. Allowed deep connection into my life by being vulnerable and letting go of fear. I can love myself. Everyone else who loves me is just icing on the cake.
When you show up fully in your life as yourself, it’s easy to love yourself. You are showing up as the full You. The self you don’t like is the one that doesn’t live up to other people’s expectations. She/He/They is listening to other people’s thoughts and beliefs about who you should be, how you should act, how you should look. The truth is, other people’s opinions are none of your business. When you live your life trying to please others, all you get is anxiety. All that matters is what you think and what you want for yourself. That person is 100% lovable.
What if you could show up, just for today, completely as yourself? No masks, no hiding, show your full goofy self (I’m goofy too, it’s fine)? Show yourself in a way that makes you feel the most YOU, whatever that means to you.
I found that it requires a lot of courage and letting go of needing other people’s approval. It takes work, but if you can do it, it’s so worth it.
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