How To Understand and Love Yourself
3 simple steps to discovering the magic of self-love and understanding.
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.
“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.
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 today. With 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:
- Who am I?
- Who/What do I want to be?
- 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
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.