We’ve all struggled with the feeling that we don’t measure up. If you’re like me, you often hold yourself to unrealistic standards.
Social media and popular trends may kindle a desire to be thinner, richer, more athletic or more popular. Or maybe you have a feeling of inadequacy about where you are in life or what you have accomplished.
Whatever you are feeling, you are not alone. Though many people hide it well, we all suffer at times from feelings of inadequacy.
For me, loving myself has been a lifelong battle. I have good days, and I have bad days. So, as someone who is still learning to love herself, here is some advice that has strengthened me and brightened my perspective.
Spend time with people who lift you up.
Every time I belittle myself in any way, my husband looks at me and says, “Don’t talk about my wife like that.” It always leaves me speechless.
This teaches me that my self-deprecating words don’t hurt just me — they also hurt my loved ones.
The people who truly love you are not there to judge you. They don’t dwell on your minor flaws or past mistakes the way you sometimes do. They see you for who you are and who you can become.
The people we spend our time with greatly influence our lives. That’s why it’s important to choose our friends wisely.
Devote your time to people who make it easy to love yourself, people who actively listen, serve, encourage and support you.
If you have to change yourself to be accepted by someone, it isn’t worth it. Your identity is never worth compromising. You are enough.
Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Challenge your negative thoughts.
It’s easy to criticize ourselves the moment we stumble or misstep. But, if we are not careful, that self-criticism can evolve into an endless cycle of shame and guilt.
What would you do if someone you loved belittled themselves? I imagine you would offer them encouragement and positivity. Do the same thing for yourself. You deserve that love and positivity just as much as they do.
Peter McWilliams, a self-help author, said, “For many, negative thinking is a habit which, over time, becomes an addiction.”
When you have negative thoughts, ask yourself the following questions: Why am I thinking this? Where did this thought come from? Map your thinking.
This will uncover the root causes of your negative thoughts and identify potential triggers. Knowing the causes and triggers will help you become more aware and in control of your thoughts.
Another way to challenge negative thoughts is by actively counteracting them with positive ones. Even just one positive thought is powerful enough to offset a string of negativity.
Willie Nelson, an American musician, said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Life is not a competition. No one is keeping score and neither should you.
Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and bestselling author, said, “The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.”
All you need to do is ask yourself, “Am I better than I was yesterday?” If the answer is yes, celebrate your progress and growth. If the answer is no, have patience with yourself and keep trying.
Through social media, we are constantly bombarded by snapshots of our friends’ lives. As we scroll through their posts, it may seem like their lives are perfect. What we can’t see, however, are their struggles and insecurities. We do not see the big picture.
This is why comparing ourselves to what we see on social media is unrealistic and fruitless.
We are each at different stages in life, and we each have unique talents to offer.
The writer Amy Larson said, “Comparison will strip you of power, of grace and influence. Each person is unique. How then, can you possibly compare unique to unique? You can’t. And when you try, you annihilate your brilliance.”
Reflect on the good and live in the present.
Gratitude is one of the fastest routes to happiness and love.
Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker and writer, said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
If you tell yourself that happiness will only come once you get married, finish school, lose weight, move away, make more money, etc., then you are holding yourself back. This method of thinking chokes your happiness and clouds the ability to love yourself.
Don’t wait until you have achieved your dreams to love and be proud of the person you are today. You are enough today and every day.
Another way to truly live in the present is to stop dwelling on the past.
The past will haunt us if we allow previous mistakes or events to freeze our progress and etch themselves into our identities. But you are not your mistakes.
Andrea Dykstra, an author and storyteller, said, “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that have shaped you.”
The past — though difficult and imperfect — has made you the person you are today. Learn from it, and be grateful for it. Don’t let it consume or paralyze you.
Take care of yourself
Outward service is essential, but you cannot buoy others up if you are sinking.
Self-care is not selfish.
Jack Kornfield, an American author, said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
Treat your body, mind and spirit with delicate care.
Make healthy choices, physically and emotionally. Go for walks, take breaks, spend time with loved ones, exercise, laugh a little and do things that bring you joy.
Work hard, but also find time to relax and recharge.
Pass it on
Engrave the words “you are enough” onto your heart. They will always be true, even when it’s difficult to believe them.
Be patient with yourself; progress and growth take time. We all fall short of perfection in this life, and that’s okay.
I still have an abundance of growth and learning ahead of me. It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in that journey. As you endeavor to engrave those three words onto your heart, don’t forget to help others do the same.