Do you ever struggle to love yourself?
Well, you’re not alone.
There is so much noise right now about…
…But, almost every woman I meet still struggles with practicing self-love in her everyday life. If it was as easy as telling ourselves how great we are, we would all be crazy in love with ourselves by now!
Even though I get paid to coach women on how to have healthy levels of confidence, well-being and self-love, I too have struggled with loving myself before. Loving myself through the cellulite, through the debt, the self-doubt when I make a mistake, through the breakups and the losses.
It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I’d be lying if I said I loved myself every single moment of every single day. What I can say truthfully though, is that I’ve learned to love myself 99% of the time. And for the other times, I’ve learned how to shut up that mean inner critic in a matter of seconds.
Through many years of self-loathing combined with my experience as a women’s wellness and life coach, I’ve observed 5 common barriers to self-love that show up time and time again.
I’ve also road-tested tons of different methods and techniques on myself and my 1:1 clients in an effort to find out what really works and what is just purely self-help fluff.
Block #1 : You don’t believe you are good enough
This is the biggest limiting belief that I see – and the reason it’s a limiting belief is because it limits you in almost every capacity. If you want to accomplish anything, you have to believe you deserve it.
If you constantly believe you will fall short, you’ll most likely be looking for love and validation outside of yourself– other people, material things and experiences. The problem with this is that these things are forever changing – so you stay forever searching.
Block #2: You feel like an imposter
When you feel like you don’t deserve to be somewhere, it can play on your mind and your self-esteem, which both affect how much you love yourself at your very core.
Up to 70% of people experience imposter phenomenon at some point in their life and it’s especially common in women. If you feel like an imposter at work or in your life, it causes you to doubt your accomplishments and also internalise fears of being exposed as a fraud. Those feelings go round and round and often manifest as feeling unworthy of love and belonging.
Block #3: You let people’s opinions define you
Fear of being judged by others keeps you playing small in your choices and goals, but it also blocks self-love. When we are so much about what others think, we derive our identity from looking good to other people and avoiding looking bad.
The catch is that no matter what you do or how wonderful you are, there will be someone won’t like it – you can’t please everyone. You could be the juiciest, ripest peach in the world and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches! When we judge our worthiness based on others’ judgments of us, we can never win.
Block #4: You’re waiting to achieve something BEFORE you can be happy
Soooooo many women I work with tell me that they’ll just be happy and love themselves, when they reach a particular goal or get something they think will make them feel good. But, if you don’t feel good now while reaching for your goals, achieving them won’t result in anything better in the long run.
Aiming for extrinsic goals to make us feel the way we want to feel has us searching for answers outside of us. People who set intrinsic goals (how they want to feel on a day-to-day basis) are much more likely to achieve those goals but they also love themselves and feel good along the journey.
Block #5: Perfectionism
Self-love is a muscle that is built through trial, error and effort – but if you’re a perfectionist, you may never get started with that process. Self-love is loving the parts of ourselves that aren’t perfect.
Many people I know wear their perfectionism like a badge of honour, but it’s totally crippling when it comes to self-love and confidence. Perfectionism is an attempt at avoiding judgment, criticism and blame.
It’s not easy to re-wire your brain for self-love but it can be done. I know because I’ve struggled with all these blocks (and more!) and I’ve finally gotten to a place where I feel fearless in my pursuit of self-love and there is very little that can knock that.
Solution 1: Allow yourself to be seen
One of the key differences between those who love themselves fiercely and those who don’t is an ability to consistently show up and put themselves out there and allow the world to witness them. It’s an act of courage and it’s a muscle you need to work on to build strength.
One of the ways I did this was early on in my business, starting an Instagram account and committing (to myself) to post regularly, authentically and without over-thinking or analysing what people might think about my new venture. I was worried people wouldn’t like it, but they did. And the best part was that I got to feel loved and appreciated for being EXACTLY WHO I AM, rather than a fake version of myself.
Ask yourself: What’s one way I would express who I really am if I wasn’t afraid of being seen?
Solution 2: Associate your worth with your values, not your lifestyle
As I’ve touched on, most people associate how good they are (their worth) based on outside factors like their job, their bank balance, their body, online followers or relationships. You’ll always feel like there’s something missing or you’re coming up short, because there will always someone who has more than you.
The habit of associating your worth with who you are being is a much healthier one. Newborn babies do little more than cry, poo their pants and need feeding all the time – yet we believe they are worthy of unconditional love – and so are you!
Instead of defining yourself by your extrinsic goals, write a list of your most important values and natural strengths and focus on aligning with these intrinsic goals. By aligning with who you already are, you’ll be living in your truth and building that inner faith that you’re great and loveable no matter what happens in life.
Ask yourself: In my ideal future world, how do the people in my life describe me?
Solution 3: Dare to be imperfect
Perfectionism is the way we try to belong and to minimise pain and judgment. In reality, it’s destructive and addictive. If we never encounter criticism and blame we can never become immune to it. So when we do feel criticised and blamed, it’s devastating.
Giving up being perfect allows us to give the world our unique gifts, rather than becoming paralysed in fear. Daring to be imperfect builds the f0undation of worthiness and self-love that helps us withstand the occasional criticism and judgment we face in the world. We start to learn to see it as subjective feedback, rather than a direct mirror image of our self worth.
Turning our focus inward allows us to try and become better people on the inside and the best version of ourselves. When we strive for that goal, we aren’t concerned about perfectionism.
Ask yourself: If I could do anything in my life knowing I wouldn’t fail, what would I do?