Dear Me, I Love You, From Me
Why self-love is important
It’s 2014, I’m in my late 20s and I’m sat in a cosy, oak-panelled room training to become a cognitive hypnotherapist. My wonderful teacher, Trevor Silvester, is casually outlining the agenda for the afternoon:
“…so this afternoon we’re going to look at how you might actually like yourself more. Do you think that might be useful? How might it be different to live your life from a place of really liking yourself?”
Something clicked and whirred. My stomach leaped with the excitement of that possibility. It made total sense to me, that everything – my relationships, my work, my health, my energy, my mood, my successes – would flow from the quality of the relationship I had with myself.
I had never bought in to the myth that liking yourself would inevitably mean you’d become an arrogant, self-absorbed narcissist. If anything, I knew that a healthier relationship with myself would free me up to pay attention to the things that really mattered.
At this point, did I loathe myself? Not at all. I’d achieved ‘success’. I was loved and loving in relationships and overall I was content with the human I’d become.
The challenge in liking myself
I was a squinty, precocious child who didn’t take well to being teased and rejected in the school playground. In year 6 I was cast as a robot called ‘Specs’ (because I wore glasses) and had the honour of singing the show’s solo: ‘I’m Different’ (gulp).
From a very young age I’d learned that toxic people-pleasing paid off, for other people. I’d lie about what I liked, watched, wore and bought. I laughed at things I didn’t find funny and pretended to be interested in things that bore me half to death. I never admitted to liking the boys I fancied.
I knew the pain of feeling estranged from myself. That sense that I must be ‘improved’ or ‘made better’ or risk being an outcast. Maybe if I just cut off anything about me that was lesser, embarrassing, or ugly then I would be truly happy.
Fast forward into adulthood and I wasn’t scared of playground rejection anymore. But there was clearly still part of me that was running patterns of ‘not-enoughness’ in the background. More subtle, more manageable but ultimately still there in my:
- Ruminations on how I’d only be okay when X occurred or when I achieved Y goal.
- Wasting my time trying to ‘fix’ situations or people.
- Deference to other people’s views on what I should do and how I should live.
- Dwelling on past mistakes and misdemeanours and feeding the belief I was a ‘bad person’.
- Clogging my brain with information hunting and seeking the next piece of ‘how-to’ or advice that was going to fix me.
- Avoiding risks, avoiding conflict and diminishing anything that might be perceived as ‘too much’.
- Overthinking, intellectualising, and dismissing my intuition as something that couldn’t be trusted.
- Social media addiction – wow, I could write about that all day.
8 years, 2 gorgeous kids and a career change have passed since that fateful day in 2014. And I continue to release beliefs or restrictions about my worth or how loveable I am.
The case for liking yourself more
Now I want to shout as loudly as I can about what this self-liking, self-loving work has given me. I can’t tell you how many times (inside and outside of the therapy room) people have casually mentioned how much they don’t like themselves. Many of them are reluctant to address it for fear of losing something – their drive, their humility, their work ethic, or their desire to improve.
I’ll unpick those myths another time. In the meantime, let me share what loving myself more has given me. Yes, I could share hundreds of client stories too, but for now here are my highlights:
- Feeling calmer and more peaceful.
- Thinking more clearly.
- More creativity.
- A complete rejection of perfectionism.
- Trusting myself, my decisions and what feels right to me.
- A greater sense of curiosity, of being open to life unfolding regardless of the outcome.
- An acceptance of who I am, even the parts that I’m less proud of.
- A desire to improve that is driven with enthusiasm and joy, rather than stress and a desire to prove myself.
- Acceptance of when I’m not able to be kind to myself.
- Less judgement and more compassion in my relationships.
- More permission to rest, to disappoint other people, to play and other ‘unproductive’ pursuits.
These last few years have pushed many of us into having ‘dark night of the soul’ moments – myself included. I’m continuing to live the belief: “I have nothing to prove”, despite what others might say. This journey doesn’t make me ‘better’ or superior in anyway. I just know it’s set me free in a lot of ways and it might do the same for you.
Regardless of whether you’re my client or whether you’re a stranger I’ll never meet, I also hold this belief for you: you have nothing to prove.
Love never needs to prove anything. And from that place of love, you can achieve whatever you decide – just because it would be fun to do. Not because your worth depends on it.
If you’d like to explore how you can strengthen your relationship with yourself or like yourself more then we can have a free chat over the phone about how you can do that.
October 27th, 2022