Love for Yourself (Learning How to Love Yourself More)
Do you truly have love for yourself or could you easily say, “I hate myself?” Learning how to love yourself more is a hard journey.
There are many things you don’t like about yourself. You can’t truly have love for yourself until you can accept those things. It is hard to be okay with the things you hate about yourself. Those “things” seem like huge character flaws that you need to change.
However, they are not character flaws. That means that you don’t need to change them. Instead, you need to learn how to have love for yourself, even when those “things” you hate are still present.
Are you confused as to why you don’t need to change those “things” you hate about yourself? Have you spent a lot of time and energy saying, “I hate myself” because of those “things” you do?
As with most of the work where I guide others to heal as a psychotherapist, the answer lies within your childhood. As cliché as it sounds, love for yourself begins to happen when you start healing from emotional trauma in your childhood.
Now, if you are thinking that you don’t really have any emotional trauma from childhood, you are wrong. There can be varying degrees of emotional trauma from childhood, but we all have it.
Not only that, but the behaviors you have now that cause your inner voice to say, “I hate myself,” were created in your childhood. You created those behaviors as a defense mechanism to help you when you needed to feel safe.
If you’re still a little lost, keep reading. I want you to think about the things that keep you from having love for yourself.
Struggling with Love for Yourself
What is the one “thing” that you hate the most about yourself? Is it anxiety, being passive, anger, depression, attention-seeking?
Learning how to love yourself is going to require you to do some digging into whatever that “thing” is for you. This will teach you how to love yourself more.
It’s important to find the reason you started doing that “thing.” You may have to spend a good amount of time thinking about why you started doing it.
That’s perfectly ok. As with all of my posts, this post is just to put a thought in your mind to expand upon when you’re ready.
Let’s look at an example of how digging into your childhood and your supposed “negative” traits can allow you to have love for yourself. I’ll use myself as an example.
More Love for Yourself and Your Childhood
Throughout the majority of my life, I had a terrible temper. How cliché of me to be a redhead with a temper. (insert eye roll)
Every time I would lose my temper, I would say, “I hate myself.” I’d sit in shame for days after one of my “episodes” of anger explosion, but that never changed anything. I continued to have those explosions of anger again and again.
I didn’t know how to be okay with my temper. If you don’t know how to be okay with things you don’t like about yourself, then you will struggle more and more with having love for yourself.
That sounds simple, but it is anything but that. Also, be aware that I am saying you need to learn how to be okay with whatever you don’t like about yourself.
I’m not saying you need to love those things. That would be too big of an ask for anybody!
So, how do you learn to love yourself more when you hate something so much about yourself? Again, learning why you began the behavior is key.
For me, I started tracing my anger explosions back to my childhood. I realized that when those explosions of anger began, they always took place at home.
My mom always told stories about my teachers praising me for being such a good, kind child. The response she always gave while laughing was, “Are you sure you’re talking about the little redheaded girl?”
She would then tell my teachers how bad I was at home and that she can’t believe that I’m not like that at school. Now, think about that for a minute.
Figuring Out Why You Do What You Hate About Yourself
Most of us would question why that little red headed girl was so “bad” at home, but not at school. There must have been something at home that was causing that to happen.
I needed somebody to figure that out, but that never happened. If my mom had realized that my home environment was so unhealthy, then she could’ve made some changes.
Now, I’m not blaming my mom. She just doesn’t have the conscious awareness to be able to look at herself or how my parent’s dysfunctional marriage affected me.
When I was at home, I would act out because my emotional needs weren’t being met. I needed to be shown unconditional love and affection.
I didn’t get that. So, like many kids whose needs aren’t met, I acted out in grand ways. I would stomp around the house making it known that I was angry.
After that would go on for a bit, I’d eventually get in trouble for stomping around and being angry. That resulted in my being sent to my room.
In my room, I felt safe. I would hide under my bed or sit in my closet and just be. If you’re wondering why I didn’t do that without the stomping around and anger, remember I was a child.
Children aren’t usually taught how to get their needs met in a healthy way. Also, if I just went to my “safe” places on my own, I feared nobody would know or care that I was missing.
I needed somebody to know where I was, even if the only way to get that was through punishment. At some point, my mom would come to my room and tell me I could come out.
My sweet little mind would think, “Oh she didn’t forget about me. She must love me.” This behavior continued throughout the rest of my childhood.
Anytime I was feeling sad, misunderstood, or lonely, the result was me lashing out and screaming at somebody. That eventually became my norm that followed me until about age thirty.
That anger grew into lots of problems for me. The minute I felt I wasn’t seen or heard, I lashed out. It didn’t matter where I was or who was there, my wrath would be felt and seen.
The Root of Your “Bad Traits”
Now, are you wondering how something like this can create more love for yourself? The answer was learning how to be okay with my anger in order to heal.
Seeing how my anger was the result of my need to be seen, heard and loved unconditionally allowed me to have a little more patience and compassion for myself.
Learning how to love yourself more gets a lot easier when you can understand why you had those behaviors in the first place. If I feel that anger coming up now, I am able to recognize that I need to be seen, heard and to feel unconditional love.
That is the key to having more love for yourself. When you replace, “I hate myself” with “I understand myself,” you learn how to have more love for yourself.
Hating Your Anxiety
Let’s look at another example for those of you who are learning how to love yourself more. This example is for those of you with anxiety.
Millions of people have anxiety, but few explore the root of it as a way to have love for yourself. That prevents them from knowing how to be okay with their anxiety.
Again, please know that I am not saying you have to love your anxiety. What I am saying is that you have to learn how to be okay with that anxiety before you can heal it.
If you spend all of your energy hating something, it’s not going to go away. So, instead you can learn how to love yourself by exploring why the anxiety came into existence.
The root of anxiety is fear. Anxiety can be very beneficial to us. It sends a signal to us that danger may be present.
Now, think about your childhood. No child escapes the fear of danger no matter how “perfect his or her childhood may appear. I’ll use an example that many of you should relate to.
Think about a time in your childhood where you were embarrassed. That can help you find one of the roots of your anxiety.
Case Study of Child with Anxiety
Let’s say a child, named Seth, was going to his first day of kindergarten.
Seth was so excited about his Super Man lunch box and the fruit roll up he would have for dessert. He is overweight and his mom rarely allows him to have a snack or dessert full of sugar.
Since it was his first day of kindergarten his mom made an exception. As Seth sits down at the lunch table, he decides to eat his fruit roll up before his other food.
He shoves it all in his mouth at one time. The other kids start laughing at him because he began to choke.
The other kids begin making comments about how he is “so fat and shouldn’t be eating like that.” Seth is so embarrassed.
He thought that he would have so much fun at his first day in kindergarten, but instead he went home and told his parents he never wanted to go back.
The next morning, Seth was getting dressed. His mom couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to wear his favorite shirt.
Little did she know, but Seth now had anxiety about being judged for being overweight. He was so worried that the other children would tell him he was fat no matter what he wore.
Not only that, but he also told his mom that he didn’t want her to pack anything in his lunch box. He was so scared the children would laugh at him again if he ate anything at lunch.
“Bad Traits” Following You into Adulthood
Let’s fast forward to Seth being an adult. His anxiety seems to rule his life. Any time he is getting dressed, will be in front of new people, is shopping at the grocery store or anything where he feels other will judge him, his anxiety takes over.
He spends so much time trying to be perfect to keep others from judging him. Seth’s inner dialogue each day and multiple times throughout the day is “I hate myself.”
Seth wishes that his anxiety would go away and that he could have love for himself. He beats himself up because of his constant anxiety.
You know that Seth’s anxiety is the result of emotional trauma from childhood. He spends so much of his time trying to prevent possible judgment from others, that he’s miserable.
If Seth were to go back to his childhood, he would see that his anxiety was a way of protecting himself from being judged by others. His fear of being judged and made fun of was very real.
So, spending his time doing everything he possibly could to keep others from judging him was how he protected himself. His anxiety was simply the result of his need to feel safe and to be accepted by others.
Now, who would judge a child for that? If you would, then please don’t keep reading because you need a very different kind of blog than mine.
Creating More Love for Yourself
If you trace your “bad traits” back to your childhood, you will have more love for yourself. As you were reading about Seth, you probably felt such compassion, empathy, and love for him.
What you need to do to love yourself more is learn how to have that compassion, empathy and love for yourself. That is a gift you have probably failed to give yourself.
Remember that I said this is not a quick process. This post is simply to put the idea in your head that you can learn how to be okay, even if you have things you hate about yourself.
Learning how to love yourself more is the best gift you will ever give yourself. The key to loving yourself more is to understand why you do what you do that is opposite self-love.
Figure out what the need was that caused the “negative” behavior. Then, figure out how to get that need met in a healthy way.
That sounds simple, but it’s not. However, you are worth the time and effort. You deserve to love yourself more.
After reading this, you may need to practice some self-care. Click here to learn more about self-care and how to do it.
As always, my recommendation is to find a licensed therapist to help guide you through this process. Click here to learn 5 Steps for Finding a Good Therapist.
We can all learn from each other. The NGES community is a safe place for you to share with others who are also on their healing journeys.
What are your “negative traits” that keep you from having love for yourself? Comment below where you are in your process of learning how to love yourself more.
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.