If you don’t know how to love yourself, this first episode in a mini-series is one you will want to tune into. In this episode I talk about how loving yourself can be complicated and why.
Okay so… Several months ago, I did a consultation with a woman and at the end of that consult, I coached her and I tried to help her as much as I could, but ultimately it wasn’t going to be a fit for her to hire me for coaching.
And toward the end of the consult, we started talking about her starting to love herself and she asked me, “But how do I do that?” And Oh, I so wish that it would have been a good fit because that question has been haunting me. And I think it’s something that we think we should be good at.
We should be good at loving other people and loving ourselves, but in reality, we are actually not always good at it and I have a little story to start us off here.
When I had my oldest child, I was a brand new mom. My mom had already passed away, so I didn’t really have anyone to ask questions other than the nurses and the doctors that I would see and my daughter came home, she was healthy, like everything was going well.
I thought that breastfeeding would come naturally and let me just say it did not. It was so hard and so painful for me to breastfeed for six weeks I would nurse my child and I would have to like squeeze the arms of my chair my rocking chair that I would nurse her in and just hold my breath because it was extremely painful for me to nurse her.
Wouldn’t you know, the day to checkup, you know, two days after we brought her home, I went into the nurses, I don’t know, station or whatever and one of the things they do is they watch you nurse to make sure that you’re getting the hang of it and baby’s doing well and you’re doing well and she latched on and nursed. Great. That was the first time. And the last time for weeks, it was terrible. I got a breast infection. It was so painful, but I was determined that I was going to figure it out.
The point of the story is that I thought breastfeeding would come naturally. It would just be something that mothers and babies know how to do and I was wrong. I had to try a million different things. I had to supplement with a bottle. It was really hard after about that six week mark, I healed enough and she got the hang of things that we are able to nurse. And I think I nursed her for longer than a year, but I was completely surprised that it was something that I had to learn to do. And I think the same is true with something like love.
Now, no matter what you want in your life goals. Changes, relationships, whatever. Love is the most powerful force. Now think about this. If you think of someone that you feel loves you and maybe the person in your life that you feel loves you the most unconditionally, I know not all of us are blessed with people like this in our lives, but just think of the person that you feel the most loved by.
Do you want to be around that person? Do you want to please that person? Do you want to make that person happy? Do you enjoy giving that person gifts? Yes. My guess is that for most of those questions, the answer is yes. You want to be around them. You want to please them. You want to give them gifts. You want to, you know, have a relationship with them.
Now think of someone who judges you or is harsh with you. Do you want to be around that person? Do you want to have a relationship with them? Do you want to give them gifts or please them? Now, sometimes the answer is yes, because relationships are complicated, but if you can think of a person, maybe somebody that’s like not in your family, most of the time the answer is no.
We’re like, why would I want to be around that person? I don’t want to have a relationship with them. I don’t care if I ever see them again. Right. And the same is true for yourself. When you love yourself, when you are kind to yourself, you want to be around yourself. You want to have a relationship with yourself.
And when you are harsh or critical or judgmental, you don’t want to be around yourself and you don’t want to have a relationship with yourself. So that is one of the most important reasons to practice self love. But as I was preparing for this podcast and thinking about what I wanted to say, what could, what I could say that would be helpful, this turned into more than one podcast.
So I think it’s going to be three podcasts. And today I just want to talk about why. Loving ourself can be complicated. Now, the truth is, is that we are all born loving ourselves. Look at a newborn baby or even a toddler. They’re pretty good at loving themselves and laughing at their own jokes and things like that over time through our socialization and the things that systems and organizations.
and institutions teach us. We learn to judge ourselves. We learn to be critical to ourselves, but it’s not what is natural to us. There is a place within each of us that hasn’t been marred by life experience and it never will be. This is the seat of your essential self. This is the part of you that Is beyond the touch of this world, this life’s, you know, difficult trials and tribulations.
This is the part of you that is beautiful and completely capable of loving and being loved. Sometimes for some of us. We have to find that part of us, but it is there. And I want you to just trust that it is there and operate out of faith that it is there. When you have endured or experienced complex trauma, just a little review, shock trauma is something like a car accident or a single assault.
Right? Complex trauma is trauma that happens over time. So a specific form of complex trauma is developmental trauma, which is the trauma that happens in our relationships with our original caregivers. So when we experience complex trauma, most of the time that is some kind of relationship trauma. And most of the time, at least I can’t think of a situation where this wouldn’t be true, but.
You know, I’m, I don’t have all the situations in my mind, so it’s possible. Um, most of the time it affects how we think about or relate to love. And I find this has just been helpful for me. If it’s not helpful for you, then just leave whatever isn’t useful. I find that understanding this idea that being, having gone through complex trauma.
Is the reason why I have learned to judge and be critical to myself, because when the people who are supposed to love you, treat you harshly or abuse you, the signals of love get mixed up and confused. So then you don’t know what love is and what love isn’t. It’s very confusing. And instead of feeling confused, we would rather feel pretty much anything else than confused.
And we definitely want to know how we feel. So most of the time in that kind of a situation where the person who’s supposed to love us is doing something or being a way that Doesn’t feel like love we turn against ourselves, especially if these people are our mother and father, it is more. And I think I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before it’s safer to turn against yourself in that situation than to turn against your caregivers who are also your source of life and safety, right?
It’s, it. It doesn’t make logical sense and it doesn’t make relational sense that the person who gives you life and the person who keeps you safe is the bad, wrong one. And so the only other thing that makes sense is that it’s us. And if it’s us. Especially as young children, when we don’t have a lot of power over our world, then we can change it somehow we can be different.
So in that way, the judgment feels protective. It feels like I have to be critical and judge myself in order to survive, right? And I just, for me, this idea that the people that were supposed to love me and it, and it ended up that it didn’t feel like love made love very confusing. I feel like I have so much more compassion for myself, especially in my part of my journey that I was wrestling with the idea of self love and why do I need to do that?
Because it’s hard, right? It’s hard from going. From being critical and judgmental of yourself to being kind and compassionate and loving to yourself. That is a difficult transition. It’s a lot of inner work. And so when I was starting out on this journey, I kind of was questioning, do I even need to do that?
And why, why do I need to do that? And why is it so hard for me? And this idea that. The signals of love and what love is supposed to look like and feel like are all mixed up and jumbled. I made me feel more compassionate toward myself, which was a start in the right direction. The other thing I wanted to mention is that when we have this complex and or developmental When we’re kind of stuck in a trauma response, that means that we are reacting when we’re in a stress response or in a shutdown response, we’re reacting in order to keep ourselves safe.
And so there’s not a whole lot of space when you just go from. Something to a reaction, there’s not a whole lot of space to slow down and to offer kindness and compassion to yourself. It’s just a reaction, right? And I think that that trauma, that developmental complex trauma. keeps us in kind of a reaction mode and it makes it difficult to insert a moment of love.
It doesn’t, it’s not impossible. I don’t think because I have learned how to do this. So obviously it’s not impossible. It just takes a lot more conscious effort, I guess is how I would say it. So. Um, when we have endured traumas, especially complex traumas, because our sense of our identity grows with ourselves.
And if in those formative years you endure abuse or trauma of some kind, then that means that your identity grows around this idea that you aren’t good enough, or there’s something wrong with you because that is what is. Um, what makes sense from a safety perspective, like I mentioned, so what, like, how do we get out of this?
And for today’s episode, I really just wanted to offer you this idea that self love can sometimes be very complicated. And if that’s true for you, you are not alone and nothing has gone wrong necessarily. Right. That there’s a large percentage of people who are experiencing exactly what you experience.
And it has been your body’s way of coping and dealing with these types of stressors in your life. And I just want to encourage you to ponder and think about the alternative. And honestly, the first thing I would want you to ponder and think about is why would you want to love yourself? Don’t even go down the path of, okay, I need to love myself or I’m going to start loving myself.
Just ponder why you would even want to, what is the reason for you, for yourself? For me, the reason is because Love feels so much better than anything else. So why would I not want to love myself? But for you, the answer might be different. And I love this question. Why would you want to love yourself?
Because sometimes the most obvious things, like we just all take it for granted that people would want to love themselves when we. question ourselves on those things, we bring to the conscious level, some very enlightening answers. So that’s the first thing is I don’t even want to encourage you to start loving yourself, but I want to encourage you to start thinking about why you might.
And I guess on the flip side, why you might not because. The truth is you might not want to love yourself and that’s okay too. We’re all kind of in a journey of becoming and no matter where you are, it’s okay where you are. I have another story that’s very brief that I have told here before on the podcast, but I used to look at myself in the mirror.
And just be so disgusted. And so like my thoughts of self loathing would come up, right? I thought I was very ugly. Now I can look back and see kind of where some of those thoughts came from, but my husband has always been the most amazing cheerleader of me. And, and he has always profusely told me how beautiful he thinks I am.
And for the longest time, probably 10 years into our marriage and we just celebrated 22 years, I would fight against him and I would tell him all the reasons why he’s wrong because I was so adamant that I was right. And then one day I thought of the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I was thinking about what that means.
I was thinking about the fact that one person could look at a flower or a sunset or something we would, some of us would think is beautiful. And another person could look at that same thing and not think it’s beautiful and both could be true. And I think the same is true with self love. Someone can look at you, think of a child or a pet, and they could think that you are the most amazing, loving, lovable person.
And you can look at you and not be able to love yourself. And both are true at the same time. So think about holding both of those truths. They seem like they are opposite of each other, but they are both true. And how does that feel to you? How does it feel to think I could love myself or not love myself and somebody else could feel the opposite way and they could both be true.
This is the thought. This is the pondering that I did that cracked the door open to me. Loving and accepting myself a little bit more and now several years later, I’m much more easily able to look at myself in the mirror and see how I am beautiful. So it is a transition. I, for me, it was not fast. I think it probably depends on the person, how fast that transition is, but I think self love could be very similar.
And then the last thing I would just have you ponder is what if I could. What if I could love myself, what would change in your life if you could love yourself, if you could transform that relationship with yourself, what, how would your life feel? What would you be thinking? What would you, what, how, look, how, What would the domino effect of that be?
So those are the three things that I would just have you start considering. You don’t even need to change anything yet if you don’t want to, and maybe never, maybe you never want to change anything, but these questions, why would you want to love yourself? What if you could love yourself and what if it’s true that you could not love yourself, but somebody else could love you and both are true.
It’s not like an objective fact that you are lovable or you are unlovable. So think about those things and just notice what comes up for you in your body. The feelings, maybe resistance comes up, maybe relief comes up. I don’t know. It could be any number of things and what thoughts come into your mind, what questions Does do these questions engender next week?
We’re gonna talk about some practical like how to start loving yourself So this little series is really going to be geared toward people who don’t love themselves But want to, because probably if you don’t love yourself and you don’t want to, you’re not listening to this podcast. So we’re going to talk more about some starting points and just little tiny things that you can consider.
I’m going to give you several different ideas. And then the third episode. In this series, we’re going to go a little bit deeper of practices and, um, things that you might consider to help you help support you in your self love journey. So I hope you will stick with me and continue to learn and understand how and why you would want to love yourself. Okay. Thank you.