QUICK UPDATE: Marc and I are teaming up with Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist to host The Live Well Tour. Come see us in Houston, TX along with special guest Preston Smiles on Feb. 25, 2023. Tap here for more info.
Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself starting today!
Practice loving yourself, too, instead of simply loving the idea of other people loving you. Practice respecting yourself, caring for yourself, and becoming a reliable part of your own support system in the days and weeks ahead.
Additionally, as you reflect on this past year, remind yourself that you are not behind. You are where you need to be. Don’t judge or berate yourself for how long your journey is taking. We all need our own time to travel our own distance. Give yourself credit for how far you have come.
And of course, I know that’s all much easier said than done. But consider this person’s story:
“Today I lost the respect of a few people I love, and the desire to hurt myself, when I finally took your advice and told everyone the truth about who I really am and what I’ve decided to do with my life. In a nutshell, I’ve chosen to love and honor myself, instead of convincing others to do it for me every day.”
Those are lines right out of a live chat session I had this morning with a longtime reader and new course member of ours. Although this person asked to remain anonymous, they gave me permission to share this slice of their story with you, and I’m so glad they did.
Because the greatest struggle in life is the struggle to accept, embrace and love ourselves, with all of our imperfections. To be 100% honest about who we are, how we feel and what we need. To stop discrediting ourselves for everything we aren’t, and start giving ourselves credit for everything we are. And to be aware that not everyone we love will agree with us every step of the way, and to be OK with it.
We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of others loving us, and we forget to love ourselves.
What we must realize is that our greatest task is not about discovering self-love; it’s about breaking down the walls we have built against it. When we have the courage to push through these walls – to know and embrace ourselves, despite our humanness, our flaws, and our rejections – we also open the door to connecting in more caring, empathic and intimate ways with others who are truly worth loving.
Which is why it’s time to…
- Start telling yourself what you love about yourself. – In your own life it’s important to know how spectacular you are. You really have to look in the mirror and be kind, because what we see in the mirror is often what we see in the world. Our disappointment in others often reflects our disappointment in ourselves. Our acceptance of others often reflects our acceptance of ourselves. Our ability to see potential in others often reflects our ability to see potential in ourselves. Our patience with others often reflects our patience with ourselves. You get the idea – you’ve got to show yourself some love first and foremost.
- Be one with what is. – Something that’s really difficult, but totally worth it, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the journey of becoming your true self. The most beautiful part of this journey is simply returning to the peaceful feeling of being right where you are. This peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
- Focus less on winning the approval of others. – Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. And you don’t have to get permission to do it differently either. Your time on this planet is precious. As the saying goes, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” Don’t wait around for someone else to give you permission to live.
- Distance yourself from those who bring you down. – Being in no relationship is better than being in a wrong one. Don’t worry too much about folks who don’t worry about you. Know your worth! When you give yourself to those who disrespect you, you lose. Your friends in life should motivate, inspire and respect you. Your circle should be well rounded and supportive. Keep it tight. Quality over quantity, always!
- Forgive your past self. – Self-forgiveness is just a matter of accepting that sometimes good people like you make bad choices. It doesn’t mean you’re bad; it means you’re human. So get bored with your past; it’s over. Forgive yourself for what you think you did or didn’t do, and focus more on what you will do starting now. And try not to take life too seriously either. If you take everything too seriously, you’ll wind up fearing every step you take. Loosen up and laugh it off when you can – especially when little things don’t go as planned. People with a good sense of humor have a better sense of life. You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself and your little daily misfortunes.
- Start making the changes you know you need to make. – Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. If you want to see changes in your life today, you’ll have to do things that you’ve never done before. Different inputs often equate to different outputs. Move away from the things that drain you and move toward the thoughts and activities that empower and fulfill you.
- Show gratitude for who you are and what you have right now. – No, you won’t always get what you want. And no, you won’t always be exactly where you want to be. But remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now. So use pain, frustration and inconvenience to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Do something every day that makes you happy. – There’s a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Life is too short. Invest in the activities you deeply care about. A good life is about making a good decision every day to do something that moves you – caring for yourself by doing things you care about. It’s a matter of realizing that there’s nothing selfish about self-care. Because we can’t give what we don’t have. You have to experience life on your terms before you can be life-giving to others.
- Give yourself a fair chance to explore new ideas and opportunities. – Don’t let not knowing how it’ll end keep you from beginning. When we act, uncertainty chases us out into the open where opportunity awaits. And remember that to be successful in the long run, you must fail sometimes. So don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all.
- Listen to your intuition and be honest with yourself about everything. – We cannot speak with integrity about a lifestyle we are not living. We don’t need more dazzling storytellers; we need more genuine ones. Listen to that inner voice. Confidence comes from knowing that what you’re doing is right, and that what you’re doing is right for YOU. The key is to identify what you want, claim it as part of who you are, and believe that you are worthy of having it. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
- Pay close attention to your life as you’re living it. – One of the greatest presents you can give yourself (and your loved ones), is to be present every chance you get. Your life is not between the moments of your birth and death; your life is between now and your next breath. Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. Far too much is lost when we don’t. So focus on writing your story, instead of reading, watching, and hearing about everyone else’s. And when you catch yourself comparing your life to someone else’s, remember that people often only show their highlight reel (especially online), not their reality.
- Go out of your way to be loving and kind to others too. – Almost everything comes full circle. People who love themselves come across as very caring, generous and kind to others too; they express their self-confidence through humility, forgiveness and inclusiveness. So seek to understand others before you attempt to judge. And be thankful for rude, difficult people too; they serve as great reminders of how not to be.
The bottom line is: People will come and go. Events will come and go. Day and night will come and go. But a true love for yourself will always remain with you, if you nurture it.
So put these things on your TO-DO list in the year ahead, and tie them to the points above:
- Spend time doing things that help you love yourself more.
- Spend time thinking about things that help you love yourself more.
- Spend time with people who help you love yourself more.
Which of these points do you struggle with? How will you love yourself more in the year ahead? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Kristi
Thank you Marc (and Angel). As much as I know all of these things, I think I need to print this out and post it over my home desk here where I can see it every day in the new year!
What helps me love myself more:
1. Spending time doing things I love.
2. Spending time with great people.
3. Reading blogs, books, and email newsletters like yours to keep me inspired and mindful.
Beautiful and important message. As a Mom and former School Counselor I was touched by this article. Once we learn how to appreciate and love ourselves (flaws and all) our world and relationships will change for the better. Thank you for sharing this post (and this whole blog and its emails). I will be sharing more of your thoughts with others in the upcoming year.
Jane Harrell says
I am totally lost on how to love my self.the past year I left my husband of 18 years and was seeing a younger man.we had broken up and got back together quite a few times in the past year.this time it is over. He changed drastically and I was not getting what I needed out of him.all about him and what he wanted.i am heartbroken.i do not understand why I feel devastated.when I was not happy with the way he was treating me.
Point#13 – Focus on writing your story, instead of reading, watching and hearing about everyone else’s really resonates with me. I’ve been doing this for a little more over a year now and it really is a great way for me to ground myself and focus on who I am and my being instead of being caught up comparing myself with others. Other self loving practices I do is not being afraid to seek and ask for help when needed, and being picky with who I share my heart, energy and time with.
A quote I picked up from your 1,000 Little Things book awhile back: “You are a victim of the beliefs you live by.”
So profound, and so true. I have it pinned to my bathroom mirror and I read it every morning.
My self-limiting beliefs are something I used to desperately struggle with, but not so much anymore. Thank you for guiding me these past couple years.
I do loving kindness practice, which begins with loving oneself and gradually extends to loving those close to you, those you feel neutral about, and finally even those who annoy and irritate you or who you may see as an enemy.
I find loving oneself makes it so much easier to love others too and that’s a positive way to change the world.
I struggle with all the points you made. After having my daughter and getting married, all my love went to them, I forgot myself, I forgot how to be me, how to love myself.
5years later, I have no idea what makes me happy, what I like to do, or what I enjoy.
Today I am making a promise to myself, to start afresh, to take a step by step into rediscovering myself.
I have been hard on myself, I have not forgiven myself for my failures, I have been stressed about how my life is turning out. I have forgotten to congratulate myself for my small wins. I want to live a fulfilling life, a happy life and enjoy being me.
Thank you for this article. I am starting my life today because of these words.
I found your blog quite a while ago when I was reeling from a divorce and loss of business. You truly started me on a path on self discovery that continues today. Many years of meditation, study, introspection have made my life more palatable, but I still can struggle mightily with doubt. I rediscovered your blog this morning after having thought I outgrew you. I did not. Thank you for a clear reminder of how to live a full, loving, present life.
Daphne McKinley says
I am an older woman who is exhausted by all my life challenges and choices. I am just now starting the road to loving myself. I am on the brink of trying to love myself. I am just so exhausted! I have made myself stop talking bad about myself everyday. That voice in your head that tell yourself..” you are dumb, not smart, not worthwhile, etc. TRYING!
Rebecca DiCorte says
I lost my husband and I’ve been trying to find myself again and create a new normal for me by myself now. I’ve held on for 4 and half years and I want to let go now. Not let go of him but of hanging onto the past. The self loving ideas are exactly what I need. Keep them coming.