Jodi never felt like she got what she wanted out of life. It always felt like she was accepting whatever scraps of affection she could get and she was always doing what everybody else wanted her to just to feel worthy and accepted. These thoughts and the kind of self-talk that came with it kept Jodi in situations that made her really unhappy. She had a poor relationship with her family. And often picked fights with them. And to make matters worse, she even hated the company she had built from the ground up! Often these are all symptoms showing that you don’t love yourself enough.
Your Most Important Relationship Is With Yourself
One day when Jodi was complaining as usual to one of her few close friends, her friend suggested that maybe everyone else wasn’t the problem. Maybe, just maybe, Jodi kept finding herself in these situations because she had never learned how to truly love herself. At first, Jodi laughed at the idea, but her friend encouraged her to at least explore her relationship with herself before trying to fix everyone else.
That wording struck Jodi as odd. When it comes to thinking about relationships, she always immediately thought of her relationship with other people; her employees, her parents, her spouse, her children, or even her neighbors. But, you also have a relationship with yourself. . . And, if it’s not a healthy relationship based on a foundation of love, chances are high that you will find yourself deeply unhappy in multiple areas of your life. After all, you are the only common dominator in all the things you complain about.
We all know the old saying “love your neighbor as yourself,” but, sometimes we can actually love our neighbor much better than we love ourselves; even the ones we don’t like!
Here are ten warning signs that you aren’t loving yourself, as well as you love your neighbor, or anyone else for that matter . . .
Sign #1: You Think Mean Thoughts about Yourself
Everyone has the occasional off day where they think that they’re stupid, fat, ugly, or worthless. But if these thoughts are on repeat throughout your day, more days than not, or if you’re thinking other unkind things, you aren’t practicing self-love. Instead, you’re creating a neural pathway of self-hate that becomes reinforced each time you think these thoughts.
Sign #2: You Compare Yourself to Others
People who struggle with self-love often compare who they are to who they think someone else is. Like you’ll pass someone on the street and think she’s prettier, smarter, or more put together than you. Seeing a person on the street and thinking those things might be an extreme example. But, we’ve all seen people in situations where we’ve decided they’re better than us . And often we don’t even really know if what we’re seeing is real. But the bottom line is if you’re seeing all of her great abilities or strengths and none of yours, you just end up feeling poorly about yourself.
Sign #3: You Don’t Stand Up for Yourself
When you don’t love yourself, you don’t deem yourself worthy of defending. Maybe this means that you didn’t stand up to the co-worker that lied to you, or the employee that never shows up to work on time, or you’ve accepted years of your spouse’s verbal abuse. Perhaps you haven’t said no to a “friend” that keeps borrowing money without paying it back or you tolerate a relative that says vicious things behind your back.
By contrast when you love yourself, you rise to your own defense. You’re not afraid to put up boundaries that protect you against your verbally abusive spouse or allow you to stand up to your wayward employee.
Sign #4: You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
You might be wondering what getting enough sleep has to do with self-love. But if you’re always pushing yourself to the edge of exhaustion and you don’t let yourself rest, pause to ask why. Do you think you have to be worthy of it? Are you trying to “earn” the right to get enough sleep? Are you trying so hard to please others that you’re simply ignoring your own body’s needs?
Sometimes that people pleasing shows up as ego. I used to tell myself I had to get so many things done because no one else could do it. That’s what made me worthy. So I would push myself to the brink of exhaustion constantly. Every job I ever had I did the work of two or three people. I told myself I was making myself indispensable. But, that was just my ego talking. It was tricking me into believing that I was only worthy if I was working hard and getting stuff done regardless of the toll it took on my mental and physical health.
Sign #5: You Don’t Care for Your Body
Often when you struggle with self-love, this affects your relationship with your body. If you hate yourself, it’s hard to care for your body which is an extension of you. As a result, you may move too little and not regularly exercise or you might subject yourself to a grueling exercise routine.
For others, this might look like making lifestyle choices that harm you long-term while giving you short-term relief. These lifestyle choices could include drinking excessively, smoking, or overeating.
Sign #6: You Aren’t Eating Foods that Fuel You
It’s normal to binge on junk food once in a while, and if you’re going through a stressful time, you might find yourself hitting up the drive-thru more often than usual. But if poor eating choices are routine, consider what message you might be trying to send to yourself.
Could you be telling yourself that you’re not worth the effort of preparing a delicious, healthy meal for? Are you saying that you can’t choose foods that give you energy and make you feel as if you can accomplish your goals? Perhaps you’re convinced there’s simply no time to care for you?
Sign #7: You’re Not Taking Time to Relax
You don’t have to devote hours of your day to a practice like meditation or yoga. But do consider how often you give yourself permission to relax. When was the last time you left empty space on your calendar just for you? How often do you get home from work only to start on another list of tasks? These choices could be caused by overwhelm but they may also point to the fact that you don’t feel like you can relax.
If you struggle to love yourself, you might be tempted to believe you’re worthy of love only if you’re doing something. You derive your sense of self-worth from your to-do list so the idea of slowing down feels like something you can’t do.
Sign #8: You Don’t Forgive Yourself
You laid awake last night remembering the silly thing you said to a cashier. You thought it was a joke, but she didn’t laugh. Now you’re thinking that you’re so stupid. You forgot to pay the bills again and the water was shut off for a few hours. You forgot your co-worker’s husband’s name at the party last week.
I remember one time I asked a guy to practice Wing Chun with me. It’s a style of martial arts. He was always looking for a practice partner, as was I. He thought I was hitting on him. But, nothing could have been further from the truth. Later he said he always knows when a woman wants to be with him because they laugh at his jokes. I thought that was really stupid. I laughed at his jokes all the time because he was funny. All the men in the class laughed at his jokes too. But, we were sitting in a restaurant at a table where I was the only woman. And, I was already uncomfortable. So I didn’t say anything. I was embarrassed and conflicted about trying to explain to him that I liked women. But, my silence only confirmed to him that I was hitting on him.
I mishandled the situation. Thankfully, I’ve learned to forgive myself for dumb mistakes.
It’s normal to feel embarrassed or stupid from time to time. But if you’re always replaying all of the ways you messed up, you might struggle with self-forgiveness.
When you’re in a relationship with someone you love, forgiveness must be a natural part of it. Forgiveness should be like a river between you, allowing love and compassion to flow freely. Think about how you deal with your friends, neighbors and family members. I bet you forgive them when they mess up; especially if they’ve apologized. But if you don’t love yourself, you might struggle with forgiving yourself.
Sign #9: You Let Others Dictate Your Choices
You’re always worried about what others think. You can’t seem to make a decision unless you’ve checked in with your spouse, best friend, co-workers, in-laws, and a host of other people. While waiting for approval, you don’t let yourself take that dance class or pursue that business degree you’ve always wanted.
Constantly seeking the approval and validation from others for your life choices is often a loud warning sign that you don’t love yourself. You already know what you need and want. You must trust that your loving heart is guiding you on the best path.
Sign #10: You Never Treat Yourself
When you love someone, you want to do nice things for them. Maybe you always give your spouse a massage after a hard day at work or you put little notes in your child’s backpack. Perhaps you always pick up the phone to listen to a friend when she calls you or you don’t hesitate to step in and help a co-worker who’s running behind on a deadline.
But ask yourself when was the last time you did something nice for yourself. Do you ever simply treat yourself to something lovely for no reason?
I used to not only not do nice things for myself, I didn’t do necessary things for me until I absolutely had to. Like I would buy my wife and son two or even 3 pairs of new shoes before I even thought of replacing my own shoes that were worn thin and starting to have holes in the soles.
If you can’t remember the last time you did something nice for yourself, start thinking about nice things you would like. Perhaps you would enjoy a massage at the mall or to spend an hour at the beach reading. Maybe you would like a mani-pedi or an evening to binge watch your favorite TV show. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. All that matters is it feels good to you.
Don’t be afraid to spend time or money on yourself to show love. You’re worth taking care of too and you deserve to be pampered.
Are You Recognizing Yourself?
If you recognize yourself in the signs above, it’s OK. Things don’t have to stay that way. Every day that you wake up alive and in your right mind is another day you can choose the direction your life will go in. You can learn to truly love yourself first and foremost. And, then you can actually begin to love your neighbor as yourself. It all starts with loving you. If you want to learn more about how to do that I’ve created a free workbook to help you get started. You can click here to download it.
You can also grab a copy of my book The Ten Principles Of Visibility. I think it will help you so much.