We all have bad days when our self-esteem plummets and when the world seems set against us. But if, more often than not, you feel rubbish about yourself and find it hard to believe anyone could love you, then something needs to change. In this article we look at:
- Waking up to that ‘unlovable’ feeling
- Beginning to fall in love with yourself
If you don’t love yourself, then you really can’t expect anyone else to love you. Start the greatest love affair of all!
DO YOU FEEL UNLOVABLE?
Belief you aren’t worthy of love can show itself in a variety of ways, not all of them obvious:
- You often find yourself indulging in negative self-talk, such as ‘I hate myself’, ‘I’m stupid’, ‘I’m sure no-one likes me’ etc.
- When you look in the mirror you don’t like what you see – in fact you often avoid looking in mirrors
- You criticise a lot of what you do and feel it is flawed, or even useless
- Praise sends you over the moon and you feel brilliant, but soon your bubble bursts leaving you feeling as bad, if not worse, than before
- You try very hard to please. In fact most of your decisions in life are made to please someone else, or to come up to their standards
- When someone seems disappointed or disapproving of you, you feel like you’ve had the stuffing knocked out of you, or even that you’ve been completely flattened
- You find it hard to take a compliment. At worst you are embarrassed and disbelieving, at best you dismiss or forget all about it
- When someone likes or loves you, gradually you ‘go off’ them. This may be a pattern in relationships, and even in friendships. Of course, there may be other reasons why relationships aren’t working for you, but it’s possible that subconsciously you begin to despise those that love you. This can be because you are convinced they can’t be worth anything as they have sunk to the low level of caring for you!
If you recognise yourself in some, or even all, of the above, then you do not truly love yourself. In fact you probably don’t even like yourself. This will probably be due to messages from the past. Possibly the love you were given was conditional, maybe there was lots of criticism and/or condemnation, maybe those who cared for you didn’t love themselves and so were unable to love you properly.
That was then, but this is now. It doesn’t have to be that way. With work and persistence you can learn to love yourself.
GETTING RID OF THAT ‘I’M UNLOVABLE’ FEELING
Truly loving yourself isn’t going to happen overnight. However, you can begin to see small changes fairly quickly if you try. Commit to working on it for as long as it takes.
- Challenge your assumption that you’re unlovable. What have you done that’s so bad? What’s any worse about your appearance, personality and achievements compared to other people you know, who do seem lovable? Common sense only goes so far, but it’s a start
- Remember that loving yourself has to come before loving anyone else. If you hate yourself but believe you love others, you’re kidding yourself. You may need them, but that’s not love. For a true out-pouring of this healing emotion, drop the ‘selfish’ label and prioritise Number 1
- Consult your own wishes in small things, where you might otherwise have gone with what someone else wants. This might be something as personal as wearing a colour that you like, even though your partner isn’t keen, listening to your own music choice etc.
- Ask yourself what someone who really loves you would say to you about you. What good qualities would they appreciate? Imagine this person telling you how well you’ve done, how good you are etc. (N.B. Even if you have a loving partner and good friends they may not be giving you the right messages or they may have their own agenda. This person you are imagining is all-knowing, benevolent ‘angel’ whose love is unconditional)
- What would this person tell you to do? What advice would they give? Try to make decisions and look after yourself on the basis of what this inner ‘angel’ is saying
- Keep a note of compliments you get, however small, and read these over last thing at night
- Keep a similar note of your achievements and read these also
- Make sure you give yourself regular treats. A couple of small ones each day, a larger one once a week, a big treat once a month and enjoy!
- When negative self-talk starts, pinch yourself and do something that distracts you
- Think up a positive affirmation for each day of the week, and make sure you can say it and mean it. For instance ‘I love myself’ might be too much, but ‘I’m working towards loving myself’ ‘I am starting to see lovable qualities in me’ may be acceptable. Repeat them three times, morning, lunch time and evening
- Become aware of when and how you’re reacting to people as if you’re unlovable. How would you react if you felt great about yourself? Push yourself to behave like that, and see what happens
MAKE ‘I’M UNLOVABLE’ HISTORY
In this article we’ve looked at recognising the fact you feel unlovable and strategies to change this. If your unlovable feeling goes very deep you may need help from a counsellor or therapist, to boost self-knowledge and set you on track. Meanwhile, our sensitive readers at TheCircle are always available to support and advise, so why not put in a call?
PUBLISHED: 9 February 2016