5 Ways to Start Loving Yourself When You Don’t Know How
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times as the remedy for just about any problem in your life:
You just need to love yourself.
Why is Self-Love crucial in healing your weight issue? Because you will not take great care of something you hate or ignore. The level of care you give yourself and your body will depend on how much you value yourself. If you have a low opinion of yourself, you will lack the drive to take healthy action in a consistent way. Or worse, you may punish yourself with poor care because you don’t believe you deserve better.
The core of my work in Love Yourself Lighter is you building a loving relationship with yourself. Too often, however, I receive emails from women saying, “I’m intrigued by the idea that self-love will help me heal my weight issue, but how can I love myself when I’m so overweight? How can I love myself when I’m such a screw-up? I feel so hopeless.”
If you’re thinking the same kind of thoughts, please believe me when I tell you that there is no need to feel hopeless. All that’s happening here is that you are not yet practiced in the Art of Self-Love.
You’re probably very practiced in the opposite—which is not your fault.
We’re not taught to love ourselves.
But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be learned.
Your current self-loathing is not innate—it was learned. And if you can learn that, then you can also learn how to love yourself.
I have compiled a guide to help you do just that—shift from self-loathing to self-loving.
There is just one thing I ask of you:
Please do not just read the material.
For it to work, you must TAKE ACTION.
Practice each step until you feel like you’ve got the hang of it; then add in another. Keep up the previous practice and continue to build on it with each consecutive step until you’ve created a solid Self-Love foundation.
This Self-Love foundation will serve you for the rest of your life.
When you make decisions from a place of self-love, you will never betray yourself. You will be unable to because loving yourself and harming yourself cannot happen at the same time.
Using a journal in any self-development practice is a great idea, so grab yours and a pen and let’s get started!
1. Change the Way You Talk to Yourself.
Mean self-talk is the most common behavior demonstrated by those who don’t love themselves. Whether your words are out loud or only in your head, they sting just the same. How can you feel love for yourself if you’re always putting yourself down?
Maybe you think that you’re trying to be motivating, but all you’re doing is crushing your spirit. The shift that needs to happen here is changing your voice from that of a bully to the voice of your biggest supporter.
Instead of: “I can’t believe you did that! What a loser.”
Use: “You made a mistake and it’s okay. You can learn from this and move forward.”
Instead of: “You’re so fat! How could you let it get this bad?”
Use: “You’re overeating for a reason. The excess weight you’re wearing is not a character flaw, but a sign that something within needs your attention. Let’s find out what it is.”
Instead of: “Who do you think you are? You can’t do this.”
Use: “Actually, you can do this. And even if you don’t know how in this moment; you can figure it out. You’ve got this!”
How you speak to yourself matters.
If you catch yourself being mean to yourself, do not beat yourself up even more. Gently remind yourself that right now that mean voice is the current automatic response, but only because that’s what you’ve been practicing.
YOU ARE NOW PRACTICING SOMETHING NEW!
And over time, with enough practice, your kinder, more supportive voice will take over and that will become the automatic voice you hear.
2. Be On Your Own Side.
In old Diet Mentality thinking, you are trained to pit yourself against yourself. It’s you trying to control you. It’s you trying to make yourself conform to the rules of the latest diet you’ve put yourself on. Then you rebel against yourself, and the restrictions you’ve imposed on yourself. It’s an all out internal war—one in which you always end up losing.
Being on your own side is a very different way of thinking. It’s you being your own supportive friend along your journey. It’s you setting yourself up to succeed, by working with yourself instead of against yourself.
What being on your own side looks like:
- You learn to rely on your body’s hunger and fullness signals instead of making yourself follow a diet.
- You choose foods that you enjoy eating and that your body thrives on, rather than following a meal plan full of foods you don’t like.
- You find the types of exercise you enjoy doing, and you view consistent movement as a form of self-care (not as a way to punish yourself for overeating).
- You believe in yourself, and you give yourself the same kind of verbal support and encouragement you’d give a friend.
3. Get to Know Yourself.
It’s hard to love yourself when you don’t really know yourself. The person many people present to the world is the one they think will be the most acceptable. If you think this way, then it’s very possible that some of your current likes and dislikes might actually belong to other people. You may not even be aware of your own true likes and dislikes because you’ve always gone along with the ideas of others just to fit in or feel loved and accepted (think friends, parents, spouses). Or maybe you’re very aware of your likes and dislikes, but you don’t always voice them because you’re concerned about what other people will think.
Either way, you are not fully expressing yourself and this type of disconnection can lead to overeating and carrying excess weight. If you are not connected with yourself, you are less likely to listen to your body’s cues.
In order to love yourself, you are going to have to get to know yourself really well. I invite you to answer these questions as YOU, not as the person you think you’re supposed to be.
- Are you a morning person or a night owl? Why?
- What kind of art do you like? Why does it speak to you?
- What are your top three favorite books? Why these?
- What is your favorite type(s) of music? Why is it your favorite?
- Do you like TV? Movies? Why do you like those particular shows and movies?
- What kind of people do you like to hang out with? Why do you like to spend time with them?
- What are all the things in this world that light you up? Name as many as you can.
The reason why I included asking “Why?” in every question is because the answer you come up with makes it uniquely your own. Understanding your “why” helps you to get to know yourself on a deeper level than just answering the surface question. It’s like going on a date! You might have some things in common (movies, music, books, etc.), but getting below the surface is where the real love connection is made. It will be the same in the relationship you develop with yourself. Let yourself be seen and acknowledged—by you.
4. Choose to See Your Value.
In many cultures we are conditioned to believe that beauty is the ultimate prize. We are also conditioned to believe that thinness equals beauty and therefore we have come to measure our worth by our weight. What a great disservice we are doing to ourselves when we do this.
In our quest for thinness, we have learned to ignore this fundamental fact: We were born worthy.
Yes, that’s right. You are already valuable and worthy. You haven’t lost it. It’s hasn’t gone anywhere. You’ve just trained yourself not to see it.
Here, I am going to invite you to practice acknowledging what’s great about you. While you don’t have to do anything to earn your worth (you can’t earn something you already have), sometimes it helps to anchor your belief in your worth when you have a list of all of your greatness to see with your own eyes.
For this week, at the end of each day, I invite you to write down three great things about yourself. It could be that you have a lovely singing voice; or you’re really good at math; or you’re super creative; or you’ve got a great sense of humor. Maybe you have a kind nature and hold the door open for the elderly. Maybe you make the best apple pie in town. Maybe you are an amazing friend and are loved by many.
Practice looking for the good in yourself and make a list of all you find. If you notice more than three a day, then write it all down! At the end of the week, read over your list. Take in all of your goodness and acknowledge your value as a human being on this planet. You matter and make a difference. The more you own it, the better you will treat yourself. We always take good care of the things we value. Let yourself be one of them.
5. Act Like a Person Who Loves Who They Are.
If you were secretly filmed for 24 hours, including the dialogue in your head, how loving would your treatment of yourself be on a scale from 1 to 10?
If the number is on the low side right now, no big deal. This can be changed.
The way you currently treat yourself is a learned behavior. It’s based on what you think of yourself. After you’ve followed the four previous steps in this guide for a while, you’ll probably begin seeing yourself in a better light. Know that developing a genuine loving relationship with yourself is going to take some time, so until then it really helps to act “as if.”
Treat yourself as if you already loved yourself.
What does that look like you ask? Here is a list of ideas:
- Speak to yourself in a loving way, always with a tone of understanding and compassion.
- Nourish your body with healthy food, while honoring your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Take yourself on regular walks or treat yourself to your favorite exercise class.
- Dress yourself in a way that says, “I like who I am.”
- Play when you need play, and rest when you need rest—and being able to do both without guilt.
- Surround yourself with good people who have your back.
- Have your own back. Follow through with the promises you make to yourself.
- Treat yourself to what you want now, rather than waiting until you’ve lost weight/gotten the promotion/met your dream partner. Life is for living! Don’t put yours on hold.
When you treat yourself like you’re someone you love, it shows. This act of love for yourself is often inspiring to other people, as you are setting an example for how it’s done.
The way you treat yourself also sets the standard for how others should treat you. If you treat yourself well, you would never stand for poor treatment from others. The two vibrations don’t match and those people won’t be a good fit in your life. Treating yourself well will naturally draw in friends who treat themselves the same way, and a circle of friends who love themselves is one heck of a party!
I hope you find this Self-Love Guide helpful in developing a better relationship with yourself. In a couple of days, I will send you a bonus action step to help you with the process. If you’ve been practicing less-than-loving behaviors, it will take some time for these new behaviors to take root. Be patient and keep at it. Like any new skill, it will take practice to become good at it. With enough practice however, you will eventually master the Art of Self-Love.
See you soon,