This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.
Hello! I can't believe we’ve made it to the end of the season. It has been such a joy for me to be here, to share everything that I've spoken about over the last several months and receive feedback from everyone. I love hearing the stories about how listeners have weathered difficult times using what they have received. I could not ask for a better way to end the year.
I wanted to talk a little bit today about people having a hard time both liking and loving themselves. Sometimes it feels like nothing about us is good enough, and we find ourselves struggling all day long to fit in or be accepted. What we find is that every tiny embarrassment and every word of negative feedback, whether in the form of teasing or criticism, significantly affects us, oftentimes staying with us forever. Everyone says “Love yourself”, but rarely do people say or understand what that means in a practical sense. What does it look like? What does it feel like? It's very broad to just say “Love yourself”, right? But everybody's experience is going to be different. Personally, the way I love myself is by not holding back from doing things that I want to because I'm worried about who's going to give their negative opinion. I also no longer keep myself quiet so that others can have their voice heard above mine or make myself small so that others can have their own time to be big. I'm proud of how I work on my boundaries.
Now, that's big stuff, right? But I can also love myself for the little things I do: how I do my makeup, how I take a moment to give my kids an extra hug, how I allow others to support me when I am tempted to be overly independent. We have to find and treasure those small things that we like about ourselves. Here’s an idea: before you go to bed I want you to just think about your day and come up with a small win. A lot of times, we don’t realize how busy our brain is scanning for things that could go wrong. There is a lot of positive stuff happening that we don’t give ourselves credit for. We need to interrupt those negative thoughts with that one win from today. Now, I know it’s hard and it takes time, but if you work on it, eventually it will become easier and you can end the habitual negativity. Self-hatred begins to heal when you stop criticizing yourself. Remember you live in your own skin and you're really the only person you need to please. You're not going to be able to sustain your whole life concentrating on how happy everybody around you is.
You know, I used to wake up worried about what was wrong with who I was and whether or not the criticisms I received were true, but then I realized that we have to actively turn to self acceptance. It takes work and time. You start by saying “Nothing's wrong with me”, and you accept yourself exactly how you are and how you aren’t. If you make that one shift, you completely change how you perceive yourself. Of course there are things I can improve upon, but at my essence, there is nothing wrong with me. Again, other people are going to have their opinions, but that doesn't have to stop you from liking yourself.
I know that sometimes people think, “Well, I need to hit that goal first. I'll be worthy of my own love when I lose weight or get that job,” but there's no motivation to change if all you do is bash yourself and focus on the things you lack. The only thing stopping you from liking yourself is your own judgment. Remove the judgment, and add in kindness.
What was the moment of my epiphany? I don't know, I don't think I necessarily had one. I think it's a process that I have been moving through for a long time, but I do know that I criticize less and accept more. I've also learned to wake up and give myself that high five, knowing that no matter what the day is going to throw, I'm going to get through it. Learning to accept and be kinder to yourself can begin at any age, and I know I've been working on this daily for a long time. Remember, if you struggle with this, it's never too late to have a new relationship with who you are and what you want to be.
This podcast has meant a lot to me because it has been an intimidating goal for a long time, but I decided that 2022 was the year I was going to finally go for it. My biggest takeaway? The importance of accepting myself where I am in this moment, being kind to both myself and others, and, most especially, allowing myself to both give and receive unconditional love. There's nothing wrong with me, and I'm grateful for the ability to give myself the grace that I need to accept the person I am today.