Updated: Aug 2, 2020
The question I get asked more than any other is, “How do I learn to like myself more?”
There was a time when I had no idea how to answer this question because it confounded me in my own life for many years.
Those seeds of devalue and worthlessness can get planted very early on and even cultivated throughout a lifetime. They come in so many different shapes and forms. The messages we are sent by a parent(s), a sibling, kids at school, a teacher who thought we were hopeless…they don’t always come in the form of words.
Sometimes the messages we get sent about our self-worth come in the form of an eye-roll, or a turn of the back and walking away when we are in a heap of tears. Sometimes it’s a slow erosion over time of consistently being shown/told that what we think, want, desire is either wrong or doesn’t matter.
So how…how do we shift something that has taken such deep root within us that it feels as if it has filled our entire mind and body, its trunk thickening, its branches insidiously curling around our brains grasping every thought and producing bitter fruit in the form of beliefs that have shaped our very core?
We struggle and writhe in pain to set ourselves free by reaching out to those around us looking for validation that we are enough but find ourselves left with that same sense of aloneness and worthlessness when the words, time, or affection run out.
“So how? How?!” We want to scream it from a mountain top…to have the answer echoed back to us.
At the risk of sounding like Yoda, the answer is this, “It must come from within.”
The way that we develop new seeds of understanding about ourselves, seeds that are already within, and waiting to be nurtured is by experiencing ourselves. I know, I know, “What the he- - does that even mean?”
It means we don’t get rid of the tree by chopping it down with positive thoughts about ourselves. We need to expand the truths that are already there no matter how minute of a seed they may be.
We can start to do this by identifying the seeds.
For example, “I don’t know, I guess I’m kinda good at __(fill in the blank)___.”
If you don’t know what you’re kinda good at or kinda like about yourself, try thinking about what you like to do. Still stumped? Consider the thing(s) you least dislike about yourself, and expand them by doing them more often, or supporting those parts of yourself, or asking for support for those parts of yourself. “I’m kinda good at drawing, painting nails, swimming”. Then do more of it. Learn to enjoy your self, the moments between just you and you.
If only it were as easy as the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk, but it's not. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time and practice. And putting up a huge mental stop sign when you hear yourself nurturing the same roots of untruth that reverberate from the long-ago wrongfully and sometimes unintentionally planted seeds.
Expanding in new growth and squeezing out the old roots works...I know it’s true because I’ve experienced it.