4 Steps to Help You Love and Respect Yourself More
It Starts With You
As we discussed, There’s a Reason You’re Attracting Losers. Your negative self-image attracts unsavoury people, so let's do something about it. After all, no one can love and respect you until you love and respect yourself.
I know you like to jump headlong into things, but I suggest that you take baby steps with this process so you don’t overwhelm yourself. When we try to mulit-task, our attention can become too diluted. It’s best to focus on one thing, make it second nature and then move onto the next thing on our list.
This will also help you develop trust. With so many disappointments and betrayals piled at your feet, it’s going to take a bit to rebuild the trust you’ve lost in others, yourself, and in the universe.
You already know what you don’t like about yourself and we don’t want to focus on that anymore. We need to make a list of your desirable attributes. Let’s start with the things you like about yourself or are proud of. Don’t worry if this seems like a small list. I promise it will grow over time.
What you like about yourself can include just about anything. Maybe it’s a physical feature; the shape of your eyebrows, length of your eyelashes, strength of your calves or how gosh-darned cute your toes look in sandals. How about your mental skills? How quickly you pick up on what you’re reading or maybe how you can solve for “x” in math.
Maybe there’s some trait that others have mentioned, like how comfortable people feel in your home. That’s a pretty awesome skill. Do you like your sense of humour? Can you make something no one else can? How about that time people looked up to you because you had a great idea?
Make a list of 3-5 things that you really like or are proud of about yourself. If you can come up with more, fantastic!
Make yourself 15 flash cards.
Divide them into three piles and title them:
(Pile 1) I like you because …
(Pile 2) I respect you for …
(Pile 3) Happy Memories ...
On each card, write down one thing that corresponds with the heading. For example:
I like you because … you always have something nice to say to a child.
I respect you for … the restraint you showed when <name> was trying to pick a fight.
Happy Memories … Smelling daisies in the field until my nose turned yellow from the pollen.
Make it Personal
Take the time to decorate them. Use different coloured pens, draw hearts and flowers around the edges or put your favourite stickers on them. Make them personal. After all, they are a beautiful part of you. When you look at these cards, you need to feel the joy and love within the ideas and memories you’ve written on them.
You can make more than 5 of each card if you can think of things to write on them, but 5 should be the minimum. As you progress, you will find more and more things to fill these cards with. You may wish to add different categories that outline your successes, places that make you happy or special events that you had fun at. You may also decide to change the format, so that instead of index cards, you create postcards with artwork that depicts what you want to say instead of simple words. For now, we will start with flash cards.
Once you have these cards made up, you need to use them daily. Some people have found it useful to stick a card to the bathroom mirror each day so every time they’re in the bathroom, they can read the card and feel uplifted. Others carry the cards in their purse, briefcase or lunch bag and take time out each day to review their cards during a break. Perhaps, you may want to pin them up on the wall like a tapestry where you spend most of your time or scattered on the walls of your home, so each room has a positive message.
I will trust you to find the best way of doing this. After all, you know yourself best. The point of this step is to stop at least once a day to read at least one of these cards and really feel the love, respect or happiness.
This step is a little bit harder. Don’t be surprised if it makes you cry the first few times you do it. It’s okay. I promise.
Go to the mirror and look yourself in the eyes …
I know … trust me, I know. It’s hard. Keep looking and when you’re ready, say out loud, “I forgive you.” You don’t need to elaborate on whatever crimes you are holding onto, but you do need to sincerely mean it. Maybe you can only find it in you to forgive something small, like a thoughtless comment you made to a friend or for making the wrong choice in a situation. That’s okay. It’s a great start!
Keep saying “I forgive you” with as much sincerely as you can. Eventually, you will feel a release. The pressure on your chest that you didn’t know what crushing you will dissipate and you’ll finally be able to breath freely again.
You probably won’t be able to weed through all the things you’re holding yourself accountable for in one go (or even two). That’s okay. There’s a whole lifetime of self-recrimination bottled up inside of you. It will take a while to work through it all.
Each time you do this exercise, you are taking a BIG step in your healing. You will begin to start trusting yourself again. Then, you’ll be able to start forgiving others and even trusting them. What a relief that will be!
This is a delicate stage of your progress. When we release the pain and negativity, we need to replace it with something positive and healing. This is where your first two steps come in. Read your flash cards. Focus on the things that make you laugh. Take something from your list and say it out loud. “I like my nose. I like how straight it is and how it ends in a cute little button shape.” Fill up that scarred place that stored your pain with the positive messages you’ve put in place.
The second part of this step is equally as important of the first. While you’re eye-to-eye with yourself, take the opportunity to say something you don’t hear nearly enough, “I love you.” Say it and feel it. Even if you can only find one thing about yourself to love, pour all the love you have to give into it. Keep telling yourself, “I love you” until you are comfortable hearing it. Accept that love and know that it is unconditional because it comes from a pure place inside of you.
Keep a journal (or two). At one point, I had several journals on the go. That’s okay. When you feel full and chaotic on the inside, it sometimes helps to bring order on the outside. Cleaning the house, organizing the bills, weeding the garden. Even separating your thoughts into neatly organized journals. It doesn’t matter how many you have. If you can keep track of all your thoughts in one journal, that’s fantastic. If not, raid the dollar store for as many as you need.
One to write every day happenings in. One to keep track of dreams. One to write down meaningful quotes. One to unleash rage. One to outline goals and dreams. One for doodles. Use as many as you need. Label them. Decorate them according to their purpose.
Besides keeping at least one journal for your innermost thoughts, fears, dreams and desires, I recommend that you also keep a Happiness Journal. Each night before bed, write down 3 things that made you happy that day. You may have to really think hard about it, but it will also help you start to see the goodness around you every day.
On good days, you might list a victory at work, praise from someone on the street or a little flirt you had with the teller at the bank. On tougher days, your list might include things like a refreshing nap, how the cat purred in your ear or the victory of avoiding the nosy neighbour. If that’s what you have for the day, write it down. Every bit of happiness builds upon itself.
You will discover that the more you fill yourself with positive messages and memories, the more room you will have inside of you for joy, love and happiness. You will begin to notice more things that make you happy and more things about yourself to admire. Your body language will change to reflect the positive messages you are giving yourself. You will find yourself making improvements to your wardrobe and grooming. You will start to give off a better “vibe” to those around you, naturally repelling anyone who would want to hurt your or take advantage of you while drawing people of quality into your life.
You will cry. You may become frustrated along the way, but I promise with my whole heart and soul that it is worth it. Once you see the first ripple of change and the positive impact it has on yourself and those around you, you will feel a happiness unlike anything you’re experience before.
Notes to My Younger Self
This is an excerpt from my book, Notes to My Younger Self: A Guide to Personal Happiness.
Other sample chapters from this book:
- There’s a Reason You’re Attracting Losers
- The Three Month Rule
- What it Really Means to Honour Someone
- Freeing Yourself From the Influences of Harmful Relatives