“We must fall in love with ourselves. I don’t like myself. I’m crazy about myself.” - Mae West
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, so hearts and love and *tiny chocolates with mystery fillings abound, but how have you been loving yourself lately? Yes, you could buy yourself a box of chocolates, fill the bathtub, and read a trashy romance novel or binge-watch your favorite show (wait, is this just me?), but I’m talking about loving yourself during those times that you’re not feeling very lovable or worthy.
Maybe you took a big risk, but missed the mark, and are feeling a bit bruised and broken right now. Or maybe you told yourself you were going to start eating better, but started the day with a donut someone brought into the office, and are beating yourself up for your lack of willpower. How do you cultivate love for yourself when you’re feeling particularly low?
Understand that failure is part of succeeding
It feels counter-intuitive, but knowing and accepting that failure is going to happen will make you less likely to throw in the towel and abandon your goal when it does happen. No one is perfect, and whether you are trying to develop a new habit or learn a new skill, at some point you will mess up. Because you are human. Accepting that failure is part of the process is the difference between people that reach their goals and people that don’t. People that reach their goals get right back on the wagon after they’ve fallen off. They don’t beat themselves up and think ‘oh look, failing again.’ They know tomorrow is a new day, with a new opportunity to start fresh. So if you find that you're beating yourself up, put on this Chumbawumba song, dance around your living room, and give yourself a break. Then get back up, and try again.
Be kind to yourself, even during setbacks
This goes hand in hand with the point above. For some reason, many of us grow up believing we increase willpower by ‘whipping yourself into shape’ a la some kind of self-discipline bootcamp. Being kind to yourself can feel indulgent and like you lack self-discipline. It turns out the exact opposite is true – people who blame themselves harshly for even small willpower missteps or failures tend to do worse in accomplishing their goals in the long run. Once they mess up once, they are more likely to give up in disgust, and when you give up, well, you have no chance of reaching your goal.
Remember, loving yourself starts with liking yourself. You can’t like someone you don’t respect. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion when you find yourself falling short of whatever mark you’ve set. Being human means being imperfect. Instead of despairing, understand failures will happen, and then treat tomorrow as a fresh new day to recommit to your goal.
You've got this!
*I grew up in a family that stuck their thumbs in the bottom of the chocolates in the assorted chocolate box to decipher what was in them. So chances were, if the chocolate was still in the box, there was a little thumb indentation in the bottom of it. (Because if it was a ‘good’ one, it would have been eaten already.) How did every one else’s family figure out which were the ‘good’ chocolates?