These 24 Self-Love Tips provide a solid foundation from which to springboard into discerning when to set healthy boundaries versus rigid walls of self-protection. There is a massive difference between the two. We all need more self-love. My bias is it is the answer to all of our problems.
What is Self-Love? It is NOT leaving ourselves when we mess up. It is NOT getting into someone else’s business as a distraction when we don’t like something we have done, like being mean with our words or actions.
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Self-Love is NOT shaming ourselves. I was doing some soul-searching the other day about WHO AM I and what is my purpose here on Earth. Sometimes it’s easier to start with defining who we are NOT, and then the positive language begins to emerge to describe who we ARE.
What is going on for you right now? What’s breaking your heart right now? Who has your heart and your allegiance? Who repels you? How are you abandoning yourself?
See if you can relate to the Personal Self-Love Tips below. It’s a set of guidelines on how to be WITH YOURSELF in times of trouble and heartache and heal your relationships so you can feel safe, supported and connected in this life.
Our job is NOT to do the following because it leads to others resenting us, blaming us when they don’t get their way, and ultimately disconnecting with us so they can be “right.”
With Self-Love, It’s NOT Our Job:
1. To rescue others or do their healing or any type of work for them.
When we rescue others, it comes back to bite us in the butt. The reason is that people want to feel independent even if they say that’s not true. When they feel overly dependent on us to solve their problems, they feel that over-reliance as a sign of weakness/failure, and it creates resentment towards the rescuer.
2. To tell others how to think, how to feel, and what they “should do.”
If we grew up in a chaotic household, for example, we may have learned to be a “Controller,” trying to control our environment to make it safe for us and one or both parents, siblings, etc.
We are probably smart and capable and have sought out information to help others and ourselves, to feel needed, valuable and in control. The downside is that we can have an “I know best” mentality which rubs people the wrong way.
This has been a challenging one for me because I do a lot of reading and research, but I have to remind myself that everyone is on their own path and has a unique set of experiences that will cause them to make different choices.
3. To judge what is in their heart and why they do what they do.
Only they know that. This is what I call “getting on their side of the street,” a metaphor for mettling in their business. When we do this, we are creating a distraction for ourselves and have essentailly we “abandoned ourselves.”
Why would we leave ourselves? It’s the same reason we would choose to numb our feelings with addictive substances and behaviors. It’s too painful to “look” at our stuff, to feel our feelings, in that moment–often due to a lot of shame around our very essence.
4. To assume the worst about their choices and behaviors.
When we easily find fault and assume the worst about others, it’s because we don’t much care for ourselves but don’t want to admit or own that. We can be so self-deceived!
To alleviate our own toxic guilt, shame, and dislike, we gossip to others, in the hopes they will “side with us” and give us some “shame relief.” Gossip is so damaging because it often unfairly poisons others against people. It causes unnecessary harm and drama.
5. To continually “call others out” because this motivates them to “shoot the messenger–US.”
This has been an area of struggle for me. I easily see patterns in others and my tendency is to want to help them see it too in order to help them shift. I have to curtail this instinct because it can be received as shaming them.
People aren’t being irresponsible on purpose. They aren’t aware. Their knee jerk reaction is to be defensive and blame the one who identifies their weakness.
This does not move the person being called out toward growth and healing because they’re on someone else’s side of the street (ours), defending themselves, shirking responsibility for the behavior that’s being brought to their attention.
6. To over-give to them and devalue our time.
Over-giving is another pattern of codependency because we are trying to get a need met in an unhealthy way. There are always exceptions, and sometimes people truly give because they want to. But more often than not, if we look deeper, we give until it hurts and then resent the other person.
For example, sometimes a coach will over-give of their time when they really don’t have the time to spare. If that’s the case, perhaps the coach is lacking in self-worth and self-respect and they don’t know how to set healthy time boundaries with their clients.
7. To judge or criticize others when they aren’t ready to do something different (they may never be ready).
This happens when one lacks compassion and understanding from where another person is coming. It’s tied up in an arrogant belief that we know the best timing and way that someone should change, to make us feel more comfortable and safe.
8. To close our heart and self-protect when they blame us or disagree with us.
This is natural for people to do. When we feel under attack from another’s judgment and blame, just like a hermit crab or a turtle, we will retreat into our own protective shell. “Leave me alone!”
9. To need others to validate our worth.
Self-worth is an inside job. No one can make us feel worthy unfortunately. I wish it were that easy. No situation can make us feel worthy either. We all mistakes daily.
Self-Love is not beating ourselves up when we do stupid things, feel ashamed, ugly, guilty, etc. Self-Love is realizing we are human and giving ourselves latitude to believe lies, feel negative emotions, be hurtful, and still knowing deep in our heart that’s not who we really are.
10. To get enmeshed in their story of suffering because we can’t do anything about it.
This makes us feel powerless and hopeless. Everyone is on their own journey. What if we just respect that we cannot know what is truly going on for others, no matter how much we believe we know. My coach, Shirzad, always says the other person is “at least 10% right.” We might as well let others be themselves and let us be us.
11. To chase or over-power others through manipulating, guilting or shaming if they don’t do as we want.
When we can’t get people to do what we want, it’s easy to shame them overtly, “Oh you’re so selfish” or covertly, “Well, it would be really nice if you came to the birthday party with us because mom rarely gets to see you.”
12. To take it personally when they don’t respond to us or “see” us, when we feel “ignored.”
Many of us grew up neglected and ignored by our parents, and so as adults, we will do about anything to get attention even if it’s negative. If others ignore us, it validates that we aren’t lovable and good enough. In truth, when people don’t respond to us it generally has nothing to do with us.
Our job IS to commit to our own inner self-exploration, to really understand our needs, desires and motivations. This is often a foreign job because most of us are used to ignoring ourselves and mistakenly believing others are ignoring us. When we place the blame on them for hurting us (usually we expect them to read our minds about what we need and so it is relatively easy to be hurt), we can reject them before they have a chance to hurt us again.
With Self-Love, It IS Our Job:
1. To love ourselves and others where we are right now.
Let’s love each other as we are, flaws and all. The human experience is meant to be flawed. It’s our weakness, not our strength, that binds us to each other and somehow gives us the power to do what we could never do alone–a great 12 step program saying.
2. To understand and appreciate our pain and their pain as information to connect us, not ammunition, to prove ourselves right.
It’s so easy to accumulate proof of someone’s flaws as a defense mechanism to not look within. We use it hurtfully and revengefully. What if we just got curious about our and their pain–what’s it trying to tell us?
3. To value and love myself/others unconditionally no matter what so we can role model self-love.
This would require us to see that we are Valuable NOW, without having to accomplish anything more for the rest of our lives, to believe we are lovable. I remember telling my daughter, Maddie, this about a year before she died, and it really caused her to tear up. It meant a lot to her because it helped her release some guilt.
4. To hold loving space for myself and others regardless of whether we’re ready to do something different.
This is approaching everyone with an open heart and belief in their unique path/journey. This requires humility and surrendering to the process of life rather than “playing God” ourselves. If they change, great; if not, great. We can still be happy with our present imperfection.
5. To see myself and others as loving, lovable and valuable whether they acknowledge us or not.
This asks us to see our worth without having an outside party mirror our worth back to us. We know who we are. We don’t need them to validate us. And we don’t need to validate them.
6. To adjust OUR energy so that it aligns with love, acknowledge our saboteurs, and then turn down their volume.
To do this, we need to slow down, breathe, put our bare feet on the earth, journal, tap, meditate, etc.–whatever grounding works for us. Then we can put our hands over our heart, “I see you saboteurs. I acknowledge you. And today Love is running the show.”
7. To pattern interrupt our behavior when we realize we’ve gotten on someone else’s side of the street.
When we become aware of our over-stepping, we gently remind ourselves, “Hey come back.” This takes a lot of self-discipline and self-awareness, and with practice gets easier. We can rub our finger/thumb together to bring us back to the present moment, for example, and ask with curiosity, “Do we really want to keep abandoning ourselves like this?”
8. To arrest codependency in our personal and business relationships and take 100% ownership of our thoughts, feelings and actions without harsh self-judgment.
This might sound like this self-talk, “I know it isn’t easy to admit responsibility here because it points to your shame about your weight, your money, your relationships, etc., but I love you anyway, and we can heal this.”
9. To give ourselves and others the benefit of the doubt and assume the best.
Example, “I don’t know their full story, but I know they must be hurting because hurting people hurt others. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are doing their best.”
10. To not take things personally.
Example, “Even though they have called me names, and it seems very personal, I know it isn’t. They are working through their own stuff. And if I’m meant to learn something here, please help me to get clear on what that is. I’m not perfect either.”
11. To keep our word to ourselves and others.
Let’s do our best to follow through on our commitments to others and build trust with them. Sometimes the hardest commitments to follow through on are the ones to ourselves. This is how we strengthen our Self-Trust muscle.
12. To do our very best and always be our own best cheerleader.
When we seek excellence, and continue to give ourselves encouragement even if we make mistakes, we are being a self-cheerleader. And that’s good enough.
Self-Love Boundaries VS Self-Protection Boundaries
Once we start practicing the above self-love tips, setting healthy boundaries becomes natural. A healthy boundary is one drawn from a place of self-love and not self-protection.
When we love ourselves and see the innate goodness and lovability of our essence, the desire to take good care of ourselves (the highest form of boundary), by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy nourishing foods, drinking plenty of water, having positive self-talk, communicating our needs, is a natural progression and is not forced or difficult.
Setting boundaries from a place of feeling inadequate and not enough will feel forced and exhausting. It will feel like we need to control others to make us feel safe. True Self-Love is a natural protection that feels fortified and strong because it comes from within, not from some external validation source.
If you can relate to all I’ve said, I invite you to play another game, one that helps you to see that you are LOVABLE and ENOUGH.
Mark your calendar the next “3 Secrets to Survive the Stress of Divorce” and let me support you while going through divorce.
Holistic Divorce/Loss Coach