“To love yourself is to understand that you don’t need to be perfect to be good”
FLY. First love yourself, that is. It’s not something we are born automatically knowing how to do, but life sure is easier once we figure out how. Many of us struggle with it for a large portion of our lives, which, let’s just be honest…really sucks. I know exactly how this struggle goes…we question our abilities, wonder if we are good enough, and even wish we had different or “better” qualities within ourselves. All along, not appreciating the talents and qualities we do have to offer the world. Learning to love yourself is not an easy task (at least not in my opinion), but it is a necessary component of true happiness. We spend our lives longing for others to love us, accept us, and welcome us into their hearts, but what about doing this for ourselves. How wonderful would it be to reach the point where we are comfortable in our own skin, we are accepting of ourselves just the way we are, and we love all of the things that make us…well…us! I have spent most of my life caring way too much about what other people think about me. Somewhere along the line it began to feel like I was changing who I really was in order to make them happy. All of this negative energy was going into what others thought about me, and I rarely stopped to think about myself and my own happiness. And when you spend long enough trying to please others and constantly worry about their perception of you, you end up putting your own thoughts and feelings on the backburner. I did this for a very long time, but thankfully, I finally started questioning it, and I have made major steps in the right direction to start flying…
The questions I started asking myself were things like – why was I letting other people control my happiness this way? Was it making me feel any better as a person, or just worse in the end? Would I be happy going on like this for the rest of my life? And…is this the best I deserve? I began having little revelations here and there, one of them being this simple, yet powerful statement: You can’t make everyone happy. You just can’t. I hate that it has taken me this long to have this realization, but no doubt about it, you. just. can’t. These song lyrics come to my mind:
“You can’t be everybody’s cup of tea
Some like the bitter, some the sweet
Nobody’s everybody’s favorite
So you might as well just make it how you please
Cause you can’t be everybody’s cup of tea” – Kacey Musgraves
This is so fitting and so true (and, small plug here, I LOVE Kacey Musgraves). No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like you, and that is completely out of your control. But what is in your control is how you feel about yourself. Being confident in who you are. Loving everything about yourself that makes you uniquely and perfectly…you. I had the idea of writing this post after a recent conversation I had with a friend. It was a lighthearted conversation, and although I don’t recall what I said first (it was probably something goofy though, knowing me), his response to me as he chuckled was “You are so weird”. I thought nothing about it at the time, and this fact alone shows how far I have come – in the past, my brain would have started overanalyzing this four word statement almost immediately. But later that evening I repeated the conversation to my husband and asked him this question “So, am I really weird??” In which I got the answer “Yup, you are a little weird babe.” (I love my husband’s honesty!) And still, this didn’t bother me at all. Wow, I was kind of amazed at myself. While I have made huge leaps and bounds over the last year, I suppose I had never acknowledged that for the first time in my life…I loved and accepted myself just the way I was, weirdness and all! Here’s the thing – we all have quirks and characteristics that stand out and make us unique, but these are the things that make us who we are. I was super thankful for this simple comment my friend made, because it opened my eyes to how far I have come with loving myself just the way I am. I just wish I had gotten here sooner!
So I suppose the question is how to get there…how can we reach the point in our lives where we learn to love ourselves just the way we are? I wish I had a simple answer to wrap up in a bow and deliver to you, but I don’t. All I can offer is my humble advice and some of my experiences in hopes that it helps you in some way.
Focus on Your Strengths
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A. Milne
Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the negatives that the positives get overlooked. It’s not that our negatives outweigh the positives, it is that our focus needs to be shifted…majorly. Make a list of all of your strengths…all of the things you are really good at. Are you an excellent cook? A good artist? Super organized? Write it down! Are you good at sports? An excellent listener? Always dependable? Write it! It could be how understanding you are of others, how loyal of a friend you are, or that you are really good at budgeting or saving. Maybe you don’t succeed or “win” at everything, but your strength is that you give everything your ALL. It can be easy for us to only see the loss, and not give any credit to the effort, but that effort is a strength. Determination, perseverance, and resilience are great strengths to possess, and it’s time to give yourself more credit when it’s due. No matter how big or how small you think your strengths are, write them all down and pull out your list when you need a reminder. You may be surprised at how much your list grows!
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
It can be easy to start going down a path of comparing ourselves to others, but before you do, ask yourself these questions – where does it lead and what good purpose does it serve? I assure you that this path is bumpy and you will get stuck in the mud. The scenery isn’t pretty, the skies aren’t blue, and if you get too far it becomes harder to find your way back. You may never make as much money as your coworker, your house may never be as big as your neighbors, and you may never wear the same size jeans as some of your friends, but these are not the things you will find happiness in. The things that bring you true happiness cannot be measured. Happiness is having the love and support of your family and friends. It is inner peace, and embracing qualities within us such as compassion, gratefulness, and generosity. Happiness is found in an act of kindness, lending a helping hand, making someone else smile, and the embrace of a loving hug. When you let the focus be on what others have, you take away the value of all that you have. If you find that you are comparing yourself to others, stop to recognize that this is creating a negative energy in your life, and work on shifting the focus to your blessings, your abilities, and your successes in life. Life is not a competition, and if you view it that way you will be zapping away your happiness so fast your head spins. Never compare yourself to anyone except the person you were yesterday. The focus should be you. This is your life, your journey, and your happiness. It’s not about being better than someone else, it’s about being the best version of you.
Let Go of What Other People Think of You
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
This is where my biggest struggle has always been…worrying and stressing over what someone else thinks about me. And while I have come to accept that I may never be completely rid of this, I have made the decision that I won’t worry about what others think of me to the detriment of my own happiness. I am exhausted by the analyzing and overanalyzing of my words and my actions; years and years of doing this has shown me that it is not only blocking me from happiness, but it is also blocking me from being me. When you constantly worry about what others will think, sometimes you start altering what you say or do out fear of how they will take it (regardless of your true intentions). You may not let your full personality shine through for fear of being judged, and you might hold back things you would really like to say. But we have to remind ourselves that other people’s judgments don’t define our intentions, and they certainly don’t define who we are AT ALL. In addition to letting go of what other people think of you, let go of what you think they are thinking of you. I used the word overanalyzing earlier because many times, that is exactly what it is. Sometimes we are making something out of nothing, and people aren’t being near as judgmental as we think they are. Actually, they may not even be concerned with us at all. By human nature, we have a tendency to filter our world view through the lens of our own lives, and people aren’t always as interested in how we look or what we are doing as much as we might think they are. Regardless, learn to let go of this hold that others have on you, and find confidence in who you are so you can let your light shine.
Be Proud of Yourself
There won’t always be someone there to congratulate you and pat you on the back when you reach a personal accomplishment. The truth is, we all have moments of success that no one even knows we are reaching except for ourselves anyway. And while it is always nice to have your family and friends celebrate with you, you don’t necessarily need them to be proud of you as much as you need to be proud of yourself. After all, no one else knows that feeling deep in your heart and soul, that genuine excitement you feel when you reach goals, set personal records, overcome obstacles, and finally arrive at a moment that you have worked so hard to reach. So the person you should be celebrating your successes with the most is you! Don’t spend your life trying to make others proud of you, spend it making yourself proud. Celebrate your moments. Pat yourself on the back. Soak it all in and enjoy the feeling. I have reached running goals that have had me celebrating alone in the street. When I reach that record distance or pace, or when I reach that point in the distance that I told my mind I would get to without stopping, I allow myself to enjoy these moments and be proud of myself. I have thrown both arms in the air as high as I could with a huge smile on my face, and I have spread my arms out as if I was flying, letting the feeling of accomplishment soak in. I have stopped to cry happy tears, and I have also done a little dance all on my own. Maybe other people see me and think I look ridiculous, but I’m really not caring so much anymore. I choose to be proud of my moments, to celebrate them, and to do a happy dance whenever I please. The bottom line is to be proud of all that you accomplish in life, big or small. Celebrate your successes and stop focusing on the struggles.
Give Yourself A Break
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Buddha
You know who is usually the hardest on me? Me. We put way too much pressure on ourselves, set strict expectations of what we should be able to do, and try to do everything perfectly. But let’s get this out there so we can start letting it go…no one is perfect and no one ever will be. We all have our own personal shortcomings, we all make mistakes from time to time, and we are all human. We have our good days, and we have our bad days. But ask yourself this question: If you are kind and understanding towards others, why don’t you give yourself this same treatment? Because you certainly should. You deserve it. It’s time to stop beating yourself up and start giving yourself a break, starting today. When you fall, you have to pick yourself back up and only look forward.
Learning to love ourselves is part of our wellness journey, and once we are able to do it, it brings us an inner peace in that part of our hearts that nothing else can fill. We are all perfectly made with many imperfections, and once we can see this, the door opens to that inner peace. Be kind to yourself, be understanding, and be patient. Let go of the hold that other people’s opinions and judgments have on you. Acknowledge your own strengths, be proud of who you are, and stop putting negative energy into comparing yourself with others. In the end, you are the person who will care most about how full your life was, and about how much joy and happiness it was filled with. Open your arms today and allow yourself to start to fly. Life is too short not to soar…
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling…what if you fly?”