How To Understand and Love Yourself - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

Empowerment

How To Understand and Love Yourself

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Are you struggling to find your true self and understand what you are all about? Do you ever ask yourself why you can’t feel satisfied no matter how hard you try? I know the feeling. We’ve all been there.

When I was much younger I liked pink, shiny notebooks and pens, and enjoyed sniffing and reading old books. I was always happy when it rained because rain meant that people stayed indoors and I was free to wander the streets alone. I loved reading romance novels and dreaming of finding my perfect guy who’d love me for who I am. I knew exactly what I wanted, I had ginormous dreams, and I was not going to let anything stop me. Except, my dreams were one thing but the reality was another.

How To Understand and Love Yourself

“Being a little weird is a natural side-effect of being awesome.” Sue Fitzmaurice

I remember sitting in my doctor’s office thinking that there was something seriously wrong with me. After a few psychometric assessments that were conducted to help me “cure” my sleepwalking phenomenon, the doctor concluded that I was an introvert and that if I wanted to succeed in life, I had to work on becoming a more socially acceptable individual.

Naturally, I had a hard time fitting in. I was a quiet, skinny girl with huge pink glasses who was labeled as weird and different, bullied throughout early school years. I hated going to crowded parties and found comfort in reading, curled up in my bed. Later on in life, I became an emotional eater, addicted to sugar, to help me deal with my struggles. I suffered in a toxic relationship with a manipulator who lied and cheated, and made me believe that I was hard to love. I went out of my way to adapt and be that perfect girl in his eyes but no matter how hard I tried I could never be “normal” like all other women, as he wanted me to be. I was too quiet, too smiley, too thankful, too skinny, too emotional, too caring, too weird. And there was no way I could please everyone.

I suffered in a toxic relationship with a manipulator who lied and cheated, and made me believe that I was hard to love. I went out of my way to adapt and be that perfect girl in his eyes but no matter how hard I tried I could never be “normal” like all other women, as he wanted me to be. I was too quiet, too smiley, too thankful, too skinny, too emotional, too caring, too weird. And there was no way I could please everyone. But back then, I didn’t see it that way.

How To Understand and Love Yourself

I’d spend sleepless nights dwelling on a simple mistake that had no impact on my life but I worried how others would perceive it. While pretending to be someone I was not, I became the most authentic people pleaser, paralyzed by perfectionism and fear of not being good enough. I was crippled by the need to constantly justify my actions and thoughts. To put it simply, I became my own worst enemy. And all because I couldn’t define who I was or what I wanted.

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever doubted your inner guidance and that little girl in you who always knew the way; who’s been strong and passionate about the things you kept yourself away from because others told you that you’re not smart enough, pretty enough, or good enough? How many times have you convinced yourself that your dreams are too big and pointless, and simply gave up?

After years of searching and learning about myself, my biggest revelation came about after a written exercise I did several years ago. And from that moment on I slowly started making changes that influenced my life in a big way and helped me create the life I live todayWith a decision to change, my life became peaceful. I became calm. I put an end to letting others influence me in a negative way, telling me what I should do. I detached from everything that was not helping me grow. I finally found the courage to leave the toxic relationship I was in that was causing me so much pain and frustration. I changed my eating habits. I declared to myself that “I don’t eat sugar” and found other ways to make my mind happy. I turned to creativity instead.

When I found who I’ve always been, I put the pieces back together and reinvented myself. But most importantly, when I realized what people think of me has nothing to do with me, I really stopped caring about their opinion.

Today, I share with you the exercise that helped me change my mindset. If you have a tendency to question everything about your life and yourself because of low self-esteem, this exercise is perfect for you. Before you start, make sure you find a quiet place where you can answer the questions in peace. Write everything that comes to mind. Remember that no one can see your answers, so be brutally honest with yourself.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Who/What do I want to be?
  3. How do I want to feel?

When I did this exercise back in 2008, I answered with the following (these are the actual answers I wrote in my journal):

1. I am…

  • a caring, good-hearted person
  • an introvert
  • an emotional eater
  • a sugar addict
  • a broken woman with low self-esteem
  • finding it hard to enjoy life sometimes
  • unworthy
  • a paralyzed perfectionist
  • fat (I was never actually overweight but I saw myself that way)
  • am not hard to love

2. I want to…

  • be able to be ME – carefree, bold, brave and free – who I was when I was a little girl
  • follow my intuition
  • trust myself
  • respect myself
  • be FREE.

3. I want to feel…

  • loved and appreciated
  • free to live a life I love, confident in myself and everything I do, not caring about small people’s opinions
  • happy and in love with myself for who I’ve always been
  • fulfilled – to realize all my childhood dreams and prove to myself that I can make it happen

So how did this exercise help me?

  1. It helped me learn to love the truth; to be honest with myself first and then with others – about what I need, how I feel, and who I am. No matter how harsh and unpleasant it may have seemed, once I wrote it down and became aware of it, the truth really was the first thing that set me free.
  2. I learned to filter information and focus on what really matters. I refuse to give my time to negative people and thoughts. If something is poisoning my mind and soul I simply won’t give it a chance to enter my life.
  3. It helped me let go of the past. Sure, it was hard and some scars can never be removed, but it is so wonderfully liberating not to be imprisoned by the thoughts and actions that once made me feel so small.

And once I accepted for who I am, the most magical thing happened. I met that perfect guy I dreamt about since childhood. I met my soul mate. No wait, I manifested him. I went back to my old journals, found my letters and notes to him, and invited him into my life. And the moment I met him, I knew it was him – this was the guy I dreamt about for so long.

Even though it was hard to believe that he was really in my life, being with him felt right. It felt natural. It felt the way I wanted to feel. I found someone who finally accepted me with all my weirdness, creativity, and quirky obsession with stationery and journaling; who never questioned my lifelong vegetarianism and why I later became a vegan, and who understood my need for stillness and calm, away from the world when it was time to re-energize.

I love him for who he is and I would never ever want him to change because he is the only one who learned to love imperfect me, perfectly.

Now here’s the most important part: You are who you think you are. Not what people think of you or want you to be. You are you and that is all that matters. When you accept yourself with all your flaws and imperfections you understand that most of these negative thoughts you’ve been feeding your beautiful mind with for years came from other sources, not you. They came from your surroundings that you blindly followed and believed in.

Learning who you are and knowing your sensitivities and strengths will give you great confidence to do anything you want in life. Always remember that you are not defined by your past, your previous relationships and actions. You don’t need validation from anyone. You decide who you are, how you feel, and what you want.

Finally, I want to share with you a few powerful words that my coach said to me when I started my journey of self-discovery, “Darling, just friggin’ own it!”

Share the love in the comments below, and let us know how this exercise helped you find yourself.

Having lived on four different continents and traveled all over the world, Tee found an incredible sense of freedom and self-appreciation while wandering. She is a women’s personal growth coach, writer, and the author of The WindFinder. Tee enjoys long walks on the beach after the rain, early morning stillness, and writing her very own romance novel. She blogs at Grow Brilliant

95 Comments

  1. I’ve always had self-doubts as I was growing up. I want to do things but I don’t believe in myself. I always think of the negatives that might happen if I went outside my shell without even trying. I always envy this friend of mine on how spontaneous and outgoing she is. Until one day, I opened up to her about this issue of mine. She said that I should believe in myself in a way that nobody can and be brave! 8 years after that, we’re now BFF’s and having a lot of adventures together.

    • Tee

      Love your story, Amanda! Always believe in yourself. <3

  2. Paul Daiz

    My wife had always doubted herself before until I talked to her and give her some “me-time”. I’ll take care of things at the house for one whole day while she does her own thing. This gives her break from all the stress. It makes me happy to see her grow more mature and independent than before.

    • Tee

      This is so beautiful, Paul. Honest and loving relationship, full of respect and understanding. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

  3. Doreen Morales

    Bravery and a motivation are all what you need to help you search who you really are. Believe that you can do anything and then you can! Push away that negativity from your mind and start to love yourself

  4. My husband and I gave this exercise a try. Then we both evaluated ourselves and talked about ways on how we can improve ourselves. This made our relationship stronger because we both grow individually together. We had a one day off without each other to spend some time on our own. We’ve been doing this for 6 years now 🙂

    • Tee

      How beautiful and inspiring, Roe! Thank you for sharing it with us. <3

  5. Hachi Komatsu

    I did this exercise and now it’s time for me to improve myself and strive for the better version of me. Change is about to come

    • Tee

      Go for it, Hachi! Trust yourself and enjoy the journey. <3

  6. There’s always that one person you’ll meet that would make you improve yourself. Meeting him/her will make you want to be better and love yourself even more so they’ll be more happy with you.

  7. Luisa Rodriguez

    I met this person and I find her weird. Then she became my partner in our science class. We had our little talk and the next thing I know, we’re best friends. She helped me to become this person that I am today. Without her, I don’t know what I am now.

    • Tee

      Your story warmed my heart, Luisa. I know exactly what you mean <3

  8. Kimberly Holder

    This is a great exercise. Many group talks are doing this exercise and I can see them improve as time passes by. I am one of the head of the group that encourages people and it makes me happy to see them be independent and be themselves when I passed by them on the street or at the coffee shop.

    • Tee

      That’s great to hear, Kimberly! Continue to inspire and help others. We rise by lifting others. <3

  9. Ani Hoker

    I found this helpful and encouraging. I hope many readers could read this and be better.

    • Tee

      Thank you, Ani. I’m glad you found inspiration when you needed it. <3

  10. Eloisa Clay

    I tried this exercise, and I think now I know what’s wrong with my life and ways on how I can improve it. By then I know my life will be better.

    • Tee

      Great to hear that, Eloisa. Trust yourself and keep moving forward. <3

  11. Katherine Donnelly

    Wow. I never thought about this before! I’m going to try this. I’ve been dealing with this with myself for quite a while now. I don’t know who I am and what I want in life. This could help me see more of myself and think of other things that could boost myself in a way that I never thought I could.

    • Tee

      Please do, Katherine. It’s a great start and I am sure it will help you. Believe in yourself and you’ll be unstoppable. <3

  12. George Sumanta

    Being honest with yourself is the first thing that you could do to help you understand YOU even better.

    • Tee

      Well said! Thank you, George.

  13. Jeweli Prater

    This happened to me before with my depression and anxiety happened at the same time. Until I went to this seminar about being yourself. We had a one-on-one peer talk with a stranger and they gave advice. It helped me to overcome my fears and face every challenge and be myself.

    • Tee

      So glad to hear that, Jeweli. How inspiring! <3

  14. Zerin Martin

    Being yourself is hard in this world full of judgemental people. That’s why a lot of people are having depression or anxiety.

    • Tee

      Don’t get the environment influence you, Zerin. Your self-worth does not depend on anyone else but you. Stay focused on YOU. <3

  15. Marina Josef

    You can love yourself by giving yourself a me time. In example, getting yourself a coffee in a coffee shop and enjoying it alone with a book, or having a stroll in the park by yourself or with your dog, or even getting dinner at a restaurant on your own! You’ll learn a lot of things about yourself and experience independence!

    • Tee

      Spending time alone is a crucial part of your journey of self-discovery. Beautiful ideas, Marina. <3

  16. Luthi Sanders

    It’s okay to be weird because you’re unique and being yourself. And you’ll see who really loves and accepts you in your weirdness.

    • Tee

      Luthi, so true! There is no beauty without some strangeness. 😉

  17. Marina Bozek

    Being independent makes you learn a lot of things about yourself! It shows the side you don’t know about you and believing that you can do it. By then, you can take care and love yourself even more.

    • Tee

      Thank you, Marina. Well said! <3

  18. Jesse Wyss

    Toxic relationship brakes what you have in you. It drains your inner happiness and kills the joy you have in your dreams which makes you “weak” when the relationship supposed to make you stronger. Getting out of that relationship is like removing that piece of thorn out of your system. It gives you that inner peace and a somewhat joy in you.

    • Tee

      Beautifully put, Jesse. Thank you for your warm and inspiring words. <3

  19. Jessie Fernande

    Searching yourself can help you enjoy things on your own and learn more about yourself that you don’t know. It can improve your self-esteem.

    • Tee

      Well said, Jessie! And so true! <3

  20. Lana Wiliam

    I felt this when I was in my college days. I was like a little girl lost in a place. I don’t know what to do because I even don’t know what I would want after graduation. I want to try a lot of things but I’m afraid to try it because I have no one to accompany me and I was shy. But you know, when you met someone, and he taught me to become the better version of myself. I became “free” from my old self and became brave. We’ve been married now for 8 years and counting. I found my true another half 🙂

    • Tee

      What an inspiring story! Thank you, Lana. <3

  21. Maria Rapier

    Awww… A wonderful love story. He is your soulmate, no doubt. The guy who cheated on you is your lesson, and good for you that you learned something from him. We should thank our ex-lovers for the fruitful lesson they gave to us.

    • Tee

      Thanks, Maria. The past cannot be erased but it sure is a powerful lesson. <3

  22. Artur Piterson

    Please do not generalize all men. Not all of us are bad, and can’t be in a long term relationship. I think the man who cheated on you regrets this. Look at you now? Successful and writing for Urbanette!

    • Tee

      Hi Artur, thank you for your comment. That’s exactly what the article stated, not all men are the same. We learn from our experiences and move on.

  23. Florence Frederick

    If my boyfriend is a manipulator, liar, and cheater, I will kick his balls! There’s no reason for him to cheat on me, and I will never, ever let him be my world. Thank God, my boyfriend isn’t like this, but I’m still hoping she won’t become a beast.

  24. Elena H.

    Don’t listen to what other people say. If you are happy with the things that you are doing, continue what you are doing. Don’t let their opinion control you, because it is your life.

    • Tee

      Well said, Elena! <3

  25. Oxi Harger

    We will all experience those downs in our lives. I also had a boyfriend who cheated and lies in front of me. I was so down, and I can’t even imagine myself without him because my life revolves just around him. I just thanked God that he never let me end up with that douchebag. I realized my worth, and I had a plan for myself, on how to become a better person.

    • Tee

      What an inspiring story, Oxi! Thank you for sharing it. Stay true to yourself. <3

  26. Marjory Brooks

    The only permanent in life is changes, and you have to deal with the changes in your life. Maybe when you were still a child, you wanted to become an astronaut, but later realized that it was hard to become an astronaut, and it’s not what makes you happy anymore.

    • Tee

      Hi Marjory, yes, that’s called change. And as we change we grow. Whatever it is that makes your heart happy, do that. You’ve got this! <3

  27. Doubt? I always have that in life. I am not sure if these things that are happening in my life, does make me happy, or I’m just pretending to be happy.

    • Tee

      Alena, have you had a chance to do the exercise? When you start doubting yourself, doubt your limits instead. Choose to believe that anything is possible and that whatever you imagine you can achieve. <3

  28. Brett Lee

    You girls do actually believe in the soulmate? As a man, I never believe in soulmates, or even in destiny. I believe in love, that if you love a person, you’ll stick with her no matter what. It’s not that she’s good for your soul, or she’s your destiny, but she’s the one you love.

    • Tee

      Hi Brett, thanks for your comment. As Lisa Stansfield once said, “Call it what you want, call it a feeling, call it a notion…Let’s just call it love.” 😉

  29. Joyce McAllister

    It sounds like your personality is unique, and you’re such a very strong woman. I have no idea that you’ve experienced these things in your life. I am glad you’ve conquered it, and you finally met your soulmate. ^_^

  30. Francis

    He’s a lucky guy to have you. The newly reinvented you is way better than the past you. Maybe he is your destiny, that is why after reinventing yourself, he came at the right time.

    • Tee

      Francis, thank you for your kind words. As you said it is so important to find yourself and fall in love with yourself first before you fall in love with anyone else. Everything is so much easier then. Maybe he was my destiny or maybe it was magic, but he certainly is the best guy for me. <3

  31. Helen Boone

    Until now, I’m always asking myself those questions. Making a decision is not as easy, as making a decision when I was a teenager. If I make a decision right now, I should stand for it for the rest of my life.

    • Tee

      That’s a good thought, Helen. Change is never easy but making a decision to start is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Stay focused until you get to where you want to be. Sending you love and happiness <3

  32. Edna Badillo

    We always have to remove toxic people from our life. They drag us down, and they will never do anything good for us. That’s a good thing you let go of the toxic people from your life because if you don’t, they will ruin everything about you.

    • Tee

      Well said, Edna! Letting toxic and negative people stay in our lives when we know how bad they are for our wellbeing is a decision not a set of circumstances. I always say that the best gift for the people who don’t appreciate your presence is your absence. Keep moving forward and focus on YOU 😉

  33. Betty Campbell

    If you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else can I get an Amen! Well done Tee. Continue to inspire and empower women all around you.

    • Tee

      Completely agree, Betty! Thank you for your lovely comment <3

  34. Nena

    This is such a beautiful and empowering article….I could just feel your sincere emotions through each word…I loved it and promise will do this exercise…Keep on writing and posting here! I checked your blog! Great topics!

    • Tee

      Thank you for the sweetest words, Nena. Please do the exercise and enjoy learning about yourself every step of the way. <3

  35. Quin Meri

    Tee, it would be great if you’d write more… I loved this article and would love to hear more from you! I’ll follow your blog too. (Grow Brilliant is a super cute name BTW!)

    • Tee

      Thank you, Quin! Your words made me smile. I sure will and I’m looking forward to it.

  36. Very very sweet article. It’s brave of you to open up and be so honest. I wish I could do that — I’ve been through similar but I can’t even bring myself to tell my friends about it 🙁

    • Tee

      Thank you for sharing a piece of your story Isabela. Have you ever tried journaling? I’d say go out today and buy the shiniest journal you can find and make it your best friend. All I can promise you is that you will learn about yourself more than ever before. Enjoy it! <3

  37. Sharon Payson

    I’m a huge fan of Urbanette, mostly because of articles like this. I love how so many of your articles make me feel, well, EMPOWERED, and leave me thinking about them for days. Such great actionable advice!

    • Tee

      You came to the right place. So happy to hear that, Sharon!

  38. Andrea Jones

    Loving myself first — a great reminder for me to embrace all the “selfies” – self-love, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-belief

    • Tee

      Hi Andrea, YES! Go for it! Anything we do for ourselves to grow, learn, and feel good about ourselves is a form of self-respect. It is a necessity. <3

  39. Zoraida Martin

    I’m going to start on these steps this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Tee

      Wonderful! Please do, Zoraida. I’m excited to hear how you found the exercise.

  40. Rosalia Russell

    I totally get what you went through, Tee!

    • Tee

      Thank you, Rosalia! Soul sisters! <3

  41. I have been blessed with a life of abundance. My life was not perfect, but my struggles taught me the value of “not giving up.”

    • Tee

      It is so wonderful to hear that, Britni. Becoming aware of what you went through and realizing how far you’ve come is a sure way to greatness, freedom and happiness. Never, never, never give up! <3

  42. Karen Abeyta

    Thanks, Urbanette! I’ve been reading your articles and I’m always excited for new ones. I found them very insightful, and always help me with my situation!

    • Tee

      SO happy to hear that Karen! You came the most amazing place <3

  43. Jeni Morgan

    Loving yourself and accepting who you are is actually accepting the world you live in.

    • Tee

      Thank you for your comment, Jeni. Yes, and accepting yourself as you are even when others don’t. <3

    • Barbie

      Maybe it’s obvious, but when a person knows and accepts himself, he’d be happier because he can express his desires, needs and wants.

  44. Maxine Ford

    Such a powerful article with great principles and advice for self-love

    • Tee

      Thank you, Maxine! So glad you enjoyed it.

  45. Joan Morales

    Beautiful! Just in time! Continue to be a blessing!

    • Tee

      Thank you for your kind comment, Joan. I’m glad you found inspiration in my words. <3

  46. “Focus less on winning the approval of others”

    • Tee

      I say YES to that! Focus on YOU, what others think is their business.

  47. Lisa Bryson

    I believe forgiving oneself is more important because if you forgive yourself, you’re freeing yourself of any negative emotion you have that will affect your future.

    • Tee

      I wholeheartedly agree, Lisa! Thank you <3

  48. Eloise Ferris

    Keep posting inspiring articles like this!

    • Tee

      Sure will! Thank you!

  49. April Henry

    A cliché as it might sound but we need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else.

    • Tee

      So true, April! Thank you for your lovely comment!

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