The most powerful relationship you will ever have
is the relationship with yourself.
You can be the most amazing human being in the world and everyone sees rays of light, love and genius when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that external admiration doesn’t matter one bit. I know because I used to look at people who were successful and happy, and wonder, “What’s their secret? Why can’t I be that way?”
After a long struggle of dealing with failures, addictions, and self-loathing, I educated myself and came to realize that the reason I couldn’t be happy like the people I envied was that I didn’t love myself the way they loved themselves.
For me, shifting from self-loathing to self-love has been profoundly healing. Now I see happy, successful people and I smile, knowing that their lives are products of a series of decisions that support their well-being.
Truth be told, every second you spend doubting your worth, and every moment you use to criticize yourself, is a tragic loss – a fresh moment of your life thrown away. And it’s not like you have forever either, so don’t waste any more of your seconds; don’t throw even one more of your moments away. Today is the best day to start loving yourself. Here are ten things self-loving people do differently:
1. They tell themselves they’re good enough.
This might seem overly simplistic, but it’s absolutely vital. Tell yourself, “I am ENOUGH!” anytime you begin to feel like you aren’t. Because sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip. And you are! Accept your flaws. Admit your mistakes. Don’t hide and don’t lie. Deal with your truth and grow stronger from it. Your truth won’t penalize you. You are always good enough just the way you are, to grow stronger than you ever have been before. The mistakes you make along the way won’t hurt you. The denial and cover-up will. Flawed people are beautiful, likeable and teachable. Fakes and phonies are not.
You are YOU for a reason. Ignore the distractions. Listen to your own inner voice. Mind your own business. Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day. Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to love it. Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, drama or negativity derail you from your truth, and from loving who you are.
2. They believe they’re capable of overcoming the challenges they face.
Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful. Self-loving people know this and live accordingly. It’s how you deal with life’s challenges that determines your level of success and happiness. Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them. Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.
Will doing so always feel comfortable? Absolutely not. But will it be worth it? You bet ya! Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and necessary. The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you.
3. They choose responsibility over blame.
When something negative happens, self-loving people will look for a way to take responsibility, rather than searching for someone to point a finger at. They know that placing responsibility and blame elsewhere doesn’t solve the problem – it only stirs anxiety and helplessness. By choosing to take full responsibility, self-loving people do themselves the favor of encouraging positive change and acceptance rather than stewing in sorrow and stagnation.
You are the only person responsible for your success and happiness. The best part of your life will start on the day you decide your life is your own – no one to lean on, rely on, or blame. You are in full control of your present life. Believe with all your heart that you can do what you were made to do. It may be tough at times, but refuse to follow some preordained path or look to everyone else for permission. Make your own rules and have your own game plan. There is no happiness and success to be found by playing it safe and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
4. They educate themselves.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Life is a book and those who do not educate themselves read only a few pages. When you know better, you live better and feel better about yourself. Self-loving people are keyed into this. And they know that all education is self-education. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop. We don’t learn anything we don’t want to learn. Those who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own time are the only ones who earn a real education in this world.
Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur, artist or historical figure you can think of. Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education – investing copious amounts of time and energy to improve oneself – which, for obvious reasons, is one of the highest forms of self-love.
5. They feed their passions and talents.
If your life is going to mean anything, you have to live it yourself. You have to choose the path that feels right to YOU, not the one that looks right to everyone else. Every person in this world feels the gentle tug of fascination toward some idea or activity. And sometimes that tug isn’t so gentle.
Self-loving people recognize and respect their inner longings as something important, and they devote their time and energy to nourishing those desires. They know that nourishing their inner hunger is much more important than any fears they might have about what feeding it looks like to others.
So my challenge to you is this: Live your life not as a bystander. Live in this world, on this day, and everyday hereafter as an active participant. Every morning, ask yourself what is really important to you, and then find the courage, wisdom and willpower to build your day around your answer.
6. They teach people how to treat them right.
Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them. You have to figure out who’s worth your attention and who’s just taking advantage of you. If your time and energy is misspent on the wrong relationships, you can end up in a tedious cycle of fleeting friendships, superficial romances that are as thrilling as they are meaningless, and a general sense of wondering why you always seem to be running in place chasing affection.
That’s why self-loving people approach relationships from a place of self-respect and self-sufficiency. They don’t expect everyone to like them and they don’t need everyone to. They know what they need to feel loved and respected and they know what they have to offer others. So they gently teach the people around them about their boundaries and, if these boundaries are crossed repeatedly, they have enough sense to walk the other way. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
7. They uphold their standards.
What’s dreadful is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love and respect when you do. To lie to yourself and say that everything is OK when it isn’t. Or to convince yourself that you like your work when you know darn well you’re capable of much better.
Bottom line: Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for the wrong reasons. It’s about living honorably. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. At the end of the day, your reputation is what other people know about you. Your honor is what you know about yourself.
8. They are present and engaged in the only moment ever guaranteed to them.
Self-loving people value themselves and therefore they value how they spend their time. They realize that the only moment they ever truly have is the present moment, so they occupy it fully.
Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. We need to learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. So much is lost when we don’t.
The inability to focus in the present leads to a lack of awareness, which can lead to major challenges in communication, and therefore trouble in our most important relationships. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are fully engaged. And you can’t be fully engaged when you’re Facebooking or Snapchatting your life away on your phone. You just can’t. If you are constantly attached to your phone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, a missed MEMORY is worse than a missed TEXT! (Read The Power of Now.)
9. They share their abundance.
Self-loving people don’t need to have it all, or even much at all, to feel wealthy enough to share with others. They know they have it good in some way or another, and they aren’t scared to share it.
Maybe you’re feeling a little down and out right now. Maybe money is tight. But I bet if you think long and hard about it, you have some kind of abundance that you could share right now with someone else. Perhaps you have an abundance of patience, so you could be a listening ear. Perhaps you have an abundance of knowledge on a particular niche topic that you could share. Or maybe you have an abundance of strength compared to your elderly neighbor, so you could carry her groceries up the front steps for her. Even an abundance of smiles can go a long way in brightening the day of others along your path.
And as you know, life is a circle. What goes around eventually comes back around.
10. They don’t beat themselves up over the uncontrollable.
Self-loving people know there are times in our lives when we’re meant to sit, stuck in the muck, and fester for a little while. When we need to feel the ache of uncertainty deep in our hearts and minds so that, ultimately, we learn how to surrender to the fact that as much as we might try to plan and control and force an outcome, some things in life don’t happen until they are ready to happen.
And sometimes the good things happening end too soon. But again, self-loving people don’t fight it. They know these endings are the perfect time for self-reflection that can lead to self-renewal, gratitude for our experiences, and a solid start to new chapters of our lives.
Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In one column, write down all the things you like about yourself – your personal strengths, difficult situations you’ve overcome, people whose lives you’ve touched, personal accomplishments, and values that increase your self-respect. On the other side, make a list of your personal weaknesses or issues that you still struggle with – perhaps you’re selfish sometimes, or avoid taking responsibility, or maybe you haven’t followed through with your commitments. Whatever these issues are, bring them out into the light of day to be examined, and they will automatically feel less shameful.
At the end of the exercise, read both the strengths and the weaknesses column aloud. Next, put your hand on your heart and tell yourself, “I am strong. I am weak. I am flawed. I am broken. I am learning. I am vulnerable. I am human. And despite all of this, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being who uses past mistakes as fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the best version of ME.”
Re-read this post and do this exercise often. Spend time meditating on the habits and patterns in your life that serve you and those that hold you back. Connect with the pain that disconnection from yourself has caused, and hold it gently in your awareness. By doing these things, you’ll grow in self-awareness, mindfulness and self-love. And when you learn it is enough to be you, you will also learn to accept and love other people with more compassion and less judgment.
The floor is yours…
Which of the points in this post have you struggled with in the past? How will you love yourself more today? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Loving Earth
Susan Rae says
Amazing post! I need to start telling myself that yes, I am worth it. No matter who thinks differently. I AM WORTH IT. Honestly, I have been going through a rough couple of months and your blog and emails have provided great therapy for me. I cried when I read this and then smiled. Thanks for putting me in a better frame of mind and starting my year off on the right foot!
Paul D says
The point on responsibility is huge for me. Your blog, book and newsletters have gradually helped me wrap my mind around the fact that that I am 100% responsible for MY life. I’ve made incredible progress in this area, showing myself a lot more love and respect than I used to. But now I also realize I need to remind myself that I am not responsible for anyone else. I need to remind myself that I cannot control other adults, but I can control my actions, beliefs, and thoughts regarding them. And that’s what I’m working on for my own peace of mind right now.
I’ve struggled with the first two points in a big way. Part of this post reminds me that I don’t give myself enough credit for my successes. I’m way too hard on myself. It’s time to change my self-talk.
I am a smart, capable, successful mom, wife, and business owner. When days get tough I sometimes forget this. Thank you for reminding me that I need to tell myself this more often.
Rose Costas says
Thanks for another great post. Every time I read one of your posts it is as if I seen it before but I now realize it is because those are the same thoughts I have but not sure how to express myself in writing as of yet. I too have struggled with lack of self love and even though I am not where I should be I am so not where I use to be. I am a work in progress but very happy to have made it this far.
This is a new year and my ambition is to work to become more loving and forgiving of myself. Thanks for you reminder of how to start loving ourselves.
Wonderful thoughts and advice! I am dealing with my elderly parent as she ages. She has had to be placed in a nursing home due to increasing dementia. My challenge is to find the energy to do all I can to make her happy & secure. She has adjusted well over the past months & I have to give myself some credit that I’ve helped in her transition from her home to being placed there. Resentment towards my only sibling for his lack of caring and any sense of responsibility is something I try to contain. This article helped more than you know. Thank you so much!
Thank you for this…every part of it struck a chord. I have always been strong–and there–for other people. I’m one of those people who never seems to break. But this last year, I had just gone through one of the toughest periods of my life–a year of transition from having been a caregiver for my mother, dealing with my own complications from a major surgery, and getting some devastating genetic news–and I still kept trying to give to everyone around me, not focusing on what I needed or wanted, which I had put to the side out of habit (it’s an ingrained behavior when you become a 24/7/365 caregiver for a parent, and it takes some time to release that tendency).
The pressure finally came to a head, and I finally had a meltdown, at which point I realized that I needed time to heal and figure out what I needed, instead of worrying about everyone else. I was still there for others, compassionate, and myself–but I also needed to just “be” for a while–get through this period, and decompress. What was painful: one of my closest male friends and I just had to part ways because I had become too “intense”. My response: yes, I am intense right now. I have all of this from the last years I’m trying to process and deal with, never mind the genetic news, complications from surgery, etc.. Am I not allowed to maybe be “intense” for a while? I’m finally doing what I need to do for myself–processing, and dealing with this damned transition, never mind everything else which has just happened, which can be insanely hard–and if I’m intense, so be it. If that’s all I’m doing wrong, well damn…I can live with that. If it’s not something you can handle, then we part ways for the time being. I won’t always be in this phase, but for the time being, I’m trying like hell to give myself a break. And it’s not going to happen overnight.
Thank you !!!!! This is gold for me. It was only recently during 2014 that I realised I didn’t love myself enough (at times perhaps even not at all); I have been doing a lot of work to correct this …. but always welcome being reminded. And the way you get the message across makes it so easy to comprehend – why didn’t you write this for me 10 years ago?! 😉
Amanda LaRose says
Wonderfully thought out and eloquently written post. The key I think is in the reminders. We can simply lose track of our self worth and love.
Bravo, once again, for reminding me that I have much and am worthy to myself and the gift of giving and sharing with those around me.
David Rapp says
For me, its all about taking the risk in being true to myself. I have stifled all my creative energies in writing, music and self-development because my job was more important. Actually because I let my job define me.
But we have a big kickoff at the end of the month, and I’ll get to preview all the changes coming our way. I’ll make my next career choice by the end of the next week. Because I owe myself the opportunity to be who I want to be, not who everyone thinks I should be.
You guys are awesome. Love ya!
I try to take what I can and give what I can’t, and just do the best I can.
Your posts are so uplifting and thought provoking. I struggle daily with feeling good enough which leads to some of the other issues you have listed. I love reading your posts because I’m learning to apply them daily in my life and it is beginning to make a difference. Thank you.
I especially liked the closing exercise on this post. Keep up with the good work you do in helping people and improving on your posts. Just when I think it can’t get any better it does. Thanks again.
Melissa Wilson says
Great list here. I really like 6 and 10. In regard to #6, sometimes we don’t realize that we do have to show people how we want to be treated. Some people might think that they can walk all over us, so we have to establish boundaries with them. And if they don’t respect that then we have to stay clear of those people. No one has the right to treat us badly and for us to accept that.
Marc and Angel,
This is such an important post for me. I am recently divorced from my partner of 25 years. I thought we were in it for the long haul but he didn’t share his unhappiness with me and ended up cheating. It absolutely destroyed and eviscerated me. I have done A LOT of me work to get through the pain over the last 2.5 years. Your emails and book have been pivotal to my healing. I still have a ways to go in all departments but these self loving emails remind me I am “enough”.
I thank you for your words of wisdom and sharing of yourselves. You ARE making a difference. AND my new partner, who holds me up when I can’t, has also subscribed to your blog and we often read it together. We have each passed your blog on to special people in our lives as we so love your messages.
Thank you and keep up your amazing blogging!
Number 6 – teaching people how to treat you – doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships. It applies also to work and any other area where you are constantly in contact with people who have the opportunity to abuse or treat you with no appreciation. Bosses can be walked away from as well.
Thank you for your wise words and insights into the human spirit. I always feel uplifted in some way or another when I read your blog. It never ceases to amaze me, how “spot on” you both are about what busies the mind. It’s always a relief to realise I’m not the only one who welcomes guidance and advice. I have one particular issue that has troubled me recently, which I’m finding difficult to resolve. By reading your blog I’m dealing with it better than I could have? Thank you x.
Going to be honest, I liked this post for the most part, but it did conflict itself a little.
3. I liked the part about not placing blame on others. Make your own rules. Etc. Nice. This is a good adage to take responsibility for all that happens. This is a good way to keep from going insane because bad things will happen one way or the other and it is nice to believe we, something we can control and the reason it went wrong was something we did or didn’t do.
7. Also a good adage, don’t settle. Never settle for 2nd best. Don’t go telling yourself that something is great when it is not. I like that.
10. “They don’t beat themselves up over the uncontrollable.” What? How about number 3 where we take responsibilities for the things that go on around us and not place blame on others? This one indicates that things go on BEYOND OUR CONTROL.
“Self-loving people know there are times in our lives when we’re meant to sit, stuck in the muck, and fester for a little while. ” What? That sounds contrary to #7 to not settle. While not settling this basically says a person needs to accept defeat for a certain amount of time.
Now of course I know that there are things beyond our control, and I know that there are times you have to wait on God. Look at the story of Joseph, a prime example of both.
But I am saying that this article had great nuggets of wisdom but conflicted itself a little in certain areas in the grand total.
Marc and Angel, HOW do you do ‘this’?
Every single time, you nail these issues RIGHT on the head. I am feeling abundantly grateful for your insights. I know I am not alone in that sentiment!
Thank you so very much.
One question: At some point in our lives, do the rest of us ‘know’ this stuff too, without having to read it? 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
@Greg: Thanks for the mostly positive feedback. Regarding your comment about conflicting points, I see the points you’ve mentioned as parallel. In other words, YOU are in control of your decisions, and thus your life in the long-term, but if you try to control everything every single second, and then worry about the things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery.
Some forces are simply out of our control, but we can control how we react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether you’re happy and successful or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can – like your attitude and the next positive step. And sometimes you have to pause for a short while (fester) and mull it over to understand what step needs to be taken next.
@Kira: Practice. Angel and I practice mindfulness and self-love every day. It takes time, but you will eventually understand these principles like second nature.
@All: Thank you for the added insight. Angel and I just read through your comments and really loved them.
John Joui says
Bravo! Tremendous post! Thank you.
Trang's corner says
You guys are awesome. Love ya!
Love this post!
Just a note to “RDS”: Determination cannot be beat.
Say that to yourself everyday. Stick it on your car dash so you will see it every day!
When I read your post I took in all the pain and trauma you have endured. But guess what…you are alive and stronger. And tell your “male friend” thank you for being there for me as long as you were able.
Even close friends have their own issues, and though this person may care for you, he has his cut off point too. Now you can decompress and shake off the drama that grew out of what I call “Life’s
Now, consider doing what Marc suggested (I already did~I got my list done. And it’s posted where I can review it. Everything you do to get better takes Practice! Hang in there, the ball is in your court now.
#3 is something I struggle with.
This post really struck a cord with me…I so needed to read this! Thank you Marc and Angel as always for your dedication to inspiring us all to love more and live better.
As usual very inspiring post. I would also suggest a point #11:
Learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve just been having a trawl around BlogLovin & came across your post — I absolutely love it!
Very inspiring and well written! 🙂
Lorna | naturally-bee.blogspot.co.uk |
Michael Gregory II says
Another great post you guys posted.
Sometimes when a person deals with the difficulties of trying to find the journey of self-love to themselves. We face the struggles of the world and the judgement of others. These small factors are what lead people with a low self-esteem attitude. It’s posts like these that remind people why they should love themselves and the benefits they could receive from it.
Wonderful reminder, a great list. If only we could remember it every day of our life. I think my main happiness-enhancing attitude is to remember that life is both good and bad, but that if I focus on appreciating, learning and moving forward, it will all be worth it. 🙂
Hoby Hittson says
Thanks Marc and Angel for all you do.
Moses Chukwu says
This is amazing! Wonderfully arranged tips. I’m gonna live by this.
sparkle eyes says
Great points. This is basically how the Bible tells us how to live.
Clair rodger says
Marc & Angel, you have helped me past 2 years with your posts and emails. You’re making a difference.
Thank you for being such precise, mindful teachers. I am amazed how you always seems to nail it on the head for me. However, I am realizing in this life journey that when you are open to the answers, all truths are seem like they are delivered just for you.
I found you one evening in deep dispair. I googled “when you just want to give up” and found you. You both have been an integral part in my healing. I try to start my mornings with meditation, then reading something inspiring. Last night an old scar was torn open and I woke back in the sadness, I thought I had overcome. This post was written just for me today.
You have such a wonderful connecting way with sharing deep messages and guidance. I am very thankful for you both. I commit to saying and experiencing the affirmation exercise for the next 2 weeks. I am looking forward to future posts.
Love the post. Thank you. Closing exercise is the best, Superb work!
Honesty, I loved you from the moment my eyes read about your blog a year ago! Thank you for always making me smile. My self esteem is always up every time I read your posts! You helped me a lot in 2014. Now that its 2015, i will continue to read more and share your thoughts to make other people feel the same way i feel 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
@RDS: I agree with Sandy, 100%.
@All: Thank you, as always. Your comments, praise, and interactions here inspire me like you can’t imagine. I am truly grateful. 🙂
Ruthie R. says
This last year in 2014 … after reading a similar post i came to the shocking realization that i didn’t love myself…despite having a good job ..a husband ..and two amazing kids… and so i’ve been reading and reading hoping to find something proving to me i’m not as messed up as i thought …. but I am … i struggle with all of these issues daily … however, thanks to this post i have made the commitment to myself to learn self love . Ive realized that i need to love myself in order to teach my kids to love themselves … you cant teach something u don’t know right ?! … so thank you for this post … it has inspired me to pursue a healthy loving relationship with myself…
Ruthie there is an interesting website that teaches you how to love yourself, look up innerbonding and you are sure to find it.
After years of dating, loving and caring so deeply for my girlfriend, she informed me that she had changed her mind and decided that she doesn’t want to marry. That I’m not her best friend, that her happiness coach convinced her that she only needs herself and that our relationship wasn’t a priority in her life. But that she wants to keep our relationship anyway. That hurt so terribly. At that point I finally realized I was being used. I gave so much of myself. That I wasn’t taking care of my myself. I have fallen so low because I centered my self-worth on her approval of me. I would change myself just to meet her demands. Now I don’t know who I am. When I was with her, I never felt good enough. Thank you Marc and Angel. Through your posts I garnered the strength to let her go. Now I’m trying very hard to regain my self-worth. I AM worthy of someone that can love me for who I am. Patrick
T.S. Phillips says
I love this article! I will definitely read it again and share with friends. It’s a good reminder to see if we are in tune with ourselves or not. Much thanks, T.S.
Wow! I read this article, I love it. A lot of thanks for this post.
I love the exercise, I give me permission to love myself, really opens up a door…doing it this come to me, I can love myself even so I am not perfect…..
Hi Marc and Angel!
I am the moderator of a website that helps women to become and remain sober. Often times, during my meetings, I will reference, with due citation, your posts and ideas. They are so inspiring and so insightful.
Our community loves loves loves your blog and we thank you for all that you do!!!
Bless you all. It was when I tried to let my friend know why I was having medical issues that were keeping me from being the person they would like, that he turned it an ugly attempt to ambush him by discussing it, that I stayed calm and realized what I have to offer and their option was just no longer important at all. I am not going to worry about what they came up with, because he does not get the chance to be with me…Your articles also helped me to really love myself and not get stressed over this at all….I admit, I thought about telling him off, but why….he is not worth it at all, I am choosing happy for me!!! I also have a little baby great grandson fighting got his life, along with a sister that is dying. and that is what matters to me. his ego!!!!not at all… I am so grateful for your site. It is filled with love and I needed a bit of that to remind me of what I truly believe in…Hugs for that…….. Smile. it makes you and other people also..
Frank ohene says
Knowledge is indeed powerful… my life has been catapulted within this short period of time. I feel blessed to be Me…
Beautiful & important message. As a Mom & former School Counselor I was touched by this article. Once we learn how to appreciate & love ourselves (flaws & all) our world & relationships will change for the better. Thank you for sharing this powerful message.
Vanya Chaturvedi says
Dear Marc and Angel,
I really look forward to your posts each week. This post of yours has truly given me direction today on what do I need to do to become the best version of myself. Thank you Thank you.
Thanks a tonne…
Keep us inspiring… Always…!!!
Anita Arya says
Beautiful post Marc! Really poignant and clear… Beautifully written too. Thank you.