In today’s world you often hear you need to learn to love yourself, use self-loving affirmations, and self-care is important, plus many more. Those all sound nice but can be pretty hard to actually do or believe.
What is the reason for that? There is a root belief deep down that says, “I don’t deserve love.” Trust me here. If you really believed you deserved love, then you would give it to yourself.
You would understand self-care is important for you and not just others. If you want to learn more about what self-care is, click here to read my post What is Self-Care.
As a psychotherapist, I see that so many people were never taught that self-care is important. This leads to many self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors. In order to change that, we have to look at why you didn’t learn to love yourself or practice self-care.
Two Reasons You Struggle to Learn to Love Yourself or Practice Self-Care:
- You were raised by people who were clueless about self-care.
- People piled their Not Good Enough Stuff on you throughout your childhood, resulting in a false belief that, “I don’t deserve love from myself or anybody.”
The first reason is much easier to overcome than the second. It is much easier to learn something new that is foreign to you than it is to unlearn negative, false beliefs.
Take a minute to think about your parents or caregivers in your childhood. Did any of them practice self-care? Probably not. So, what did they model?
Teaching Children Self-Care is Important
My guess is that they modeled burnout and always being burnt out from being too busy. There are lots of ways that can occur. The most typical way is for people to spend all of their time doing for others and never doing for themselves.
How many times have you heard people make comments related to their children taking up all of their time, but they wouldn’t have it any other way? I’d be a billionaire if I’d gotten a penny every time I’ve heard that!
Oh, how unhealthy that is, though. Yes, your children are important and need a lot of your time. However, if you do nothing but devote all of your time to them, you are actually causing them harm.
Don’t you want your children to know how to take time for themselves? Wouldn’t it break your heart if you heard them say, “I am struggling to learn to love myself” or “I don’t deserve love?” I know I would be devastated to hear either of those from my son.
If you aren’t teaching them that self-care is important by modeling that yourself, then it is almost certain they will, at the least, have those thoughts. It might not be conscious, but they will grow up with behaviors reflecting those thoughts.
Learn to Love Yourself
Now, let’s look at the second reason you struggle to learn to love yourself. This one is much more difficult to overcome.
If your parents or caregivers dumped all of their Not Good Enough Stuff on you, then you can probably list a million reasons to back up your belief that you don’t deserve love for yourself.
Your Not Good Enough Stuff, NGES, is a culmination of your childhood trauma, negative beliefs about yourself and they ways you feel you are not good enough.If you want to learn more about Not Good Enough Stuff, click here to read my explanation of it.
If you constantly heard negative things about yourself throughout your childhood, those “things” become your beliefs. It always makes me sad when I’m writing about this topic because I know all too well the damage it causes.
Let’s look at a few examples of this. Consider a fictional person named Sarah. She is thirty-two years old and struggles with immense anxiety and depression. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, her mother would emotionally abuse her.
Here are some examples of emotional abuse:
• “You just can’t get anything right.”
• “You need to put some make-up on so you look presentable.”
• “I don’t know why you can’t just figure things out for yourself.”
• “I wish you were like (fill in the blank with another sibling or another child).”
• “Other parents don’t have to deal with a kid like you.”
• “You’re not good at making friends because you’re so needy.”
Now, take each of those examples and think about the beliefs Sarah has about herself. That emotional abuse continues to impact every area in her life today. She believes she will never do anything right in life.
Case Study of Sarah and “I don’t love myself.”
She wears a ton of make-up because that’s the only way she believes she’s pretty and never lets anybody see her sans make-up. Her anxiety is so intense because she believes she will screw up everything in her life. That includes work, relationships, finances and basically every single thing in her life.
Sarah is constantly fighting to be better than everybody else to show the world that she has value. The reason that is such a struggle is because she was taught others were always better than her.
She doesn’t believe she is capable of doing anything well. Since that is her belief, she created a life that reflects that. Also, Sarah believes she is a bother to anybody and everybody because that’s what her mom constantly told her in a million different ways.
Due to this, Sarah isolates herself in order to keep from being such a bother to others. She feels like she has failed at friendships and relationships. The reason for that is that again, she has a belief that she is not deserving of love. If you have that belief, then you sure can’t have love for yourself.
If you related to Sarah, I have such love and compassion for you. Overcoming this is hard, but it’s not impossible. Imagine if you were taught that your name was Table.
Now, if you learned at age 30 that your name is actually Sarah, it would be really hard to start learning to answer to Sarah and not Table. So, apply that to learning incredibly negative and FALSE things about yourself.
How difficult would it be to learn that you are actually worthy of love and can learn to love yourself? That difficulty is immense. Just know that it is not impossible!
My Journey of Learning to Love Myself
My own journey of learning to love myself might give you some guidance as you learn to love yourself. In my late twenties, I began realizing that I was worthy of love. I had to learn that a crucial part of that was seeing that self-care is important.
I had always heard people talking about self-care, but I barely knew what it was or how to do it for myself. If you want to learn more about what self-care is, click here to read my post about it.
In order to see I was worthy of self-love, I had to unlearn all of the negative self-talk I had about myself. That stemmed from emotionally unavailable parents and their inability to love themselves, resulting in my inability to truly be me in a healthy way. If you relate to having parents like that, click here to read my post about Emotionally Unavailable Parents: 5 Steps to Heal.
As cliché as it sounds, if somebody doesn’t love themselves, they aren’t truly able to love anybody else. There are many parents out there who weren’t taught self-care or to love themselves. So, it wasn’t possible for them to teach it to their children.
That was the case for me with my parents. I used to have so much anger towards my parents for the Not Good Enough Stuff they put on me causing a lot of damage. However, as I continue to do my own healing, I realize more and more that they were never taught self-love from their own parents.
To heal and learn to love myself, I had to begin challenging all of the negative beliefs I’d become so attached to from my childhood. Also, I had to take responsibility for my behaviors that coincided with my negative and false beliefs about myself.
Doing those two things were the keys to my healing and creating self-love. Just know that is not a simple task.
Not only that, but it will take a lot of time to do. So, be patient with yourself. I promise the outcome is worth it and it will get better as you go.
Self-care is important and is how I started changing my negative, false beliefs about myself. Not creating time for self-care means you don’t believe you deserve it. If you want to learn how to create time for self-care, click here to read my post about that.
If you are reading this and feel lost as to how to start the process to learn to love yourself, try these self-loving affirmations.
• I am worthy of love.
• I am good just the way I am.
• I am beautiful.
• I am learning to love myself.
• I am a good person.
• I am healing.
• I am powerful.
• I am enough.
Before you jump right into using these self-loving affirmations, you need a bit more guidance. Don’t be hard on yourself if these are hard to do. If it were easy, then you wouldn’t need to do them. The belief would already be there.
How to Use Self-Loving Affirmations
Pick one of these self-loving affirmations that seems the farthest from the truth for you. THAT is the one that will bring you the most healing. Just know that you don’t have to believe it or even think that you could ever have that belief about yourself.
When I began using self-loving affirmations, I would literally laugh at myself for doing them. I thought it seemed so stupid and a waste of my time. However, I can also be determined when I decide I’m going to do something. Just ask my husband about that!
Sticky notes became my best friend and tool for this work. I wrote my self-loving affirmations on sticky notes and put them everywhere. I had them on my bathroom mirror, refrigerator, sun visor in my car, the backs of all of my doors and anywhere else I could think of where I would see them often.
The two I struggled with the most were, “I am worthy of love” and “I am beautiful.” Throughout my childhood, I was told and shown those were false.
It probably took me a few months of reading my sticky notes over and over throughout my days before I began seeing that there might be a slight chance that they could be true. A slight chance was more than I’d ever thought possible.
So, I continued doing it. The longer I used my self-loving affirmations, the easier it became to believe them. Also, I began believing them more quickly and could add more and more.
Now, I can very easily say and believe EVERY one of those self-loving affirmations I wrote above. I don’t have secret healing powers or a genie in a lamp. If I can do this work, I promise that you can too.
Parents Healing While Raising Children
For those of you who are parents, if you were not taught how to love yourself when you were a child, please do not continue that with your children! You can’t say that you didn’t know anything about self-care or loving yourself like your parents could.
You have read this post and probably have a lot more awareness that self-care is important. You can’t plead ignorance on this now!
The absolute best gift you could possibly give your children is teaching them they are worthy of love. In order to do that, you have to show them that you believe that you are worthy of love too.
My son is two-years old and I make sure he sees me practicing self-care. When I need a break, I take one. I explain to him when I am frustrated. I let him know I’m going to take a few minutes to get in a better place for myself when needed.
When I go to yoga, I let him know why I am going. I talk to him about taking care of my mind and body. Self-care is important. As he gets older, I will continue modeling love for myself and showing him ways I do that.
I wasn’t shown that as a child, but I am making sure that he sees me taking care of myself. So, hopefully he will learn the importance of that and be able to do the same throughout his life.
My hope in writing this blog is that the outcome will be that others will begin doing their own work of healing their Not Good Enough Stuff. That results in creating self-love and practicing self-care. For those who have children, you all can help change every generation after you in the most positive way possible!
As always, I recommend seeing a licensed therapist to help you learn to love yourself. Please comment your thoughts about your struggles and/or success on your journey of self-love and practicing self-care.
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This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.