Knowing how to love yourself can feel impossible. Even more so when you hate the crumb-tolerant doormat you’ve become – to fake friends, selfish partners, your boss, toxic family members, and most tragically… the cynical audience in your own head.
When I was in sixth grade, I signed my own yearbook in four different types of handwriting. I wrote notes to myself saying how much fun and amazing I was. I even included inside jokes and went on about sleepovers and fun memories that never existed. These notes were supposed to be from my really good/cool friends that went to another school.
The most heartbreaking was writing a note where I pretended to be a popular boy who wanted to date me.
Why did I do this?
Because it was the only way I could emotionally survive the reality of absolutely no one wanting me.
At that young age, lies and creativity were the only way I could cope with my shame. The anxiety I would get when I had to ask one of my classmates to sign a yearbook that was totally blank (except for a few signatures and notes from teachers) was too much. All I ever wanted was to be wanted, accepted beautiful, cool, and enough. Five things that I never fully felt at home.
This behavior continued in many different ways as I got older. And because deep down, I knew how fake I was, I lost all respect for myself (which eventually, led to self-hate).
As long as you lack self-respect, you will never have respect for anyone who genuinely respects you – no matter how much you claim to want and deserve it.
We like to think that a lack of self-respect can coexist with, and even be extinguished by, an abundance of true love from someone else but it can’t.
If you don’t respect yourself, getting genuine love from another person will never feel the way you’re convinced it should feel. It won’t feel nearly as valuable as getting disrespectful attention from people who are just as incapable of genuinely loving themselves.
Knowing how to love yourself is not hard.
Self-love is nothing more than consistently having your own back, by acknowledging the value that you have as a human being on this planet.
It’s about gaining confidence from your ability to act on healthy boundaries and enforce high standards.
It’s about understanding that anyone who makes you feel worthless does so because they cannot tap into their own.
If you find yourself always…
… and eggshell walking in your relationships, it’s not because you’re “unlucky in love.” it is 100% because you have a lack of self-love.
If you are in any kind of relationship where you are not getting the respect you deserve (but continue to stay and fight for your love, compete for his/her attention, and have to fact check at every turn)… this is not admirable. It’s a symptom of an extreme lack of self-love.
If you care too much about what other people think and internalize the behavior of others… you don’t know how to love yourself.
If you’ve finally gotten out of a toxic relationship where you were devalued, cheated on, and disrespected but still treat yourself poorly and miss him/her on the daily… it’s because you don’t love yourself.
If you have a hard time saying “no” and derive a sense of value from people-pleasing, you don’t know how to love yourself.
You could have the Dalai Lama visit you every morning and drink water that was blessed by the Pope and fart clouds of peace and as great as all of that is… It wouldn’t make you LOVE yourself.
It wouldn’t even make you like yourself.
You may feel cool for a hot minute, but it would never last and ultimately, you would end up hating yourself even more. Inauthenticity breeds self-hate.
There are so many resources out there and practices that will lead you in the right direction, but if you don’t commit to having your own back, you are single-handedly robbing yourself of your own destiny – not your parents, not the kids that bullied you as a child, not your exes, not your teacher or your coach or your boss or your fake friends. YOU are the one dimming your own light – not them. They only have as much power as you choose to give them.
If you already knew all of this and still don’t feel like you can ever love yourself, guess what this means?
It means that your comfort zone is fear.
How am I so sure of this? Because it has been my reality for much longer than it hasn’t.
I had abandonment issues, issues with guys, issues with my exes, and issues with my parents and friends. One day, I realize that life as I knew it had become one big issue.
I became a victim to these issues. And the only hope that a victim has is being rescued. So, I looked to friends, family, and men to “rescue” me in the form of seeing my worth enough to change their hurtful behavior.
It wasn’t them that needed to change though. It was me.
The moment I made a commitment to treat myself no better than I had those made up friends in my yearbook treat me (and no better than I was treating people who were never worthy of my time, to begin with), my life transformed. I used my fear as fuel instead of allowing it to keep me in an emotional time zone that I was never born to acclimate to.
I want you to find a photo of yourself when you are under five years old. Find one where you are at your happiest. This is mine (I had just spotted Minnie Mouse):
Now, take a good look at that little one.
Take a photo of him/her and make it the screen saver and wallpaper on your phone.
I want you to imagine this: If you were walking down the street and you saw someone beating the crap out of that innocent kid in the photo that just wanted to be liked, accepted, and loved, what would you do?
I am positive you would intervene and rescue the kid.
Guess what? You’re still that same kid. That’s YOU.
And you are not only beating the daylights out of that kid, but you are letting everyone else have a go too.
Every time you have a negative thought about who you are and blame yourself on account of the hurtful actions of toxic people, take a look at that photograph. If you can’t stick up for the grown adult that you are, you can most definitely, stick up for the child in that photo.
Soon, you’ll start to love yourself. And eventually, you will attract people who value that little one as much as you do because they too, were able to find a way not out, but back to that child who so desperately needed them.
Today, I am everything that that scared, sixth-grade girl signing her yearbooks needed.
And because I’ve learned to be there for her, I’ve been able to see the brilliance in how she decided to cope – instead of continuing to be ashamed of it.
I decided to build a vehicle for that creativity (this blog and business of mine that I quite literally, live for. I live to help people out of pain, ambiguity, and suffering that I know all too well).
And that’s when I stopped adding to a relational resume that only mattered to people who were just as superficial because they hated themselves just as much.
You can too.
+ If you need further and more personalized help, please look into working with me here.
Love your heart, your mind, your writing, and you of course, Natasha ?
Love you too Wyatt! 🙂
“And because I’ve learned to be there for her, I’ve been able to see the brilliance in how she decided to cope – instead of continuing to be ashamed of it.
I decided to build a vehicle for that creativity. This marked the end of desperately adding to a relational resume that only mattered to people who were just as superficial because they hated themselves just as much.”
Natasha, your bravery and self-love continue to inspire me on my self-love journey. Thank you so much for this. PS You were beyond adorable!!! Self love is the foundation for everything in life, you can’t truly love others (healthily, not co-dependently) if you don’t truly love yourself.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t agree with you more about self-love and also, how adorable I was 🙂 I don’t feel ashamed or weird saying that now and it’s so freeing. I have dedicated my life to showing her just how worth it, loved, and “enough” she is. I wish that I could see yours. I guarantee that I would say and feel the same. I am so grateful for you, your love and support. XOX
It’s like you’re writing about me, my thoughts, my childhood, my life. I didn’t think you’d exist… someone who just gets me. You do exist..and thank God you turned that fear into fuel.. you are amazing.
I am in tears. Thank YOU for existing and giving me the greatest gift of all…
Affirmation that I am not/was never alone. Even in the loneliest of times.
Love you and you are never alone. xx
I hear ya girl! I had an emotionally neglectful childhood that caused me to look for validation in every man I met. Of course this led to some terrible and emotionally abusive relationships. I was 68 years old before I knew what was wrong but now at 71 I’m thriving even though I’m alone. Some day there will be someone for me for the few years I have left but it will not be on their terms ever again. We can be a team or it’s not happening. Thank you for your encouragement. Be blessed.
THANK YOU so very much for taking the time to share (and by doing so, helping countless others feel less alone, inspired, and like they too, can heal). So proud of and happy fo you, Sister. You’ve got this!
And we always have each other. All my love to you. Thank you for your love, connection, and support. Xx
This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you! Your courage to reveal the most personal internal dialogue inspires me. My journey out of codependency and into self love has been littered with setbacks. Shame is one of those setbacks. It is more familiar than love. Having my own back is not automatic…. yet. Anxiety often wins over self love. I’m learning, but boy do I wish I could speed it up. I look forward to using my fear as fuel consistently, but not there yet. So thankful for you and your brilliant words! ?
I am eternally thankful for you <3 You got this Carolyn.
So happy that the post helped. Your comment, love, and sisterhood mean more to me than I will ever be able to put into words. xox
Absolutely adore this and you. Every week your insights and articles inspire me and push me to remember my purpose. It’s so easy to fall back down the self-hate platform and forget what’s real genuine love towards myself or just a facade I’m putting on for others. Thank you for sharing 6th grade you, and being so open and honest. It’s beautiful to know that someone that struggled with loving themselves from such a young age has come so far.
Thank you! Glad that the post served you xo
OMG tash! This is beautiful! Just what I needed ! The biggest act of self love for me now is learning how to feel my feelings and validate them.
I’m so happy that I’m doing that…it’s like the real me is coming alive. Little by Little…and I’m loving it. I actually look forward to the future! Super excited about all what’s to come.
I actually really like me and trust myself. I’m super super happy about that. It’s like I becoming that girl I actually wish is was…a long time ago.
you that chick!
YES! So proud of you. I am all smiles 🙂
So happy it helped! xox
I continue to be in awe of you. This is so sincere, heartfelt, and cuts through the BS of what has become “self love” to reveal the core of what self love truly is. You help so many with this kind of vulnerability and honesty. YES to this: “There was never this lightbulb, “AHA!” moment where everything clicked and I loved myself.” I think people, myself included, think that if they do something that seems like “self love” (but usually ends up with spending money and time in trying to distract yourself from hating yourself), they will suddenly love themselves. And get even more down when this never happens. You have taught me so much about being compassionate with myself, protecting myself, and being the person I needed when I was younger. I am so grateful that you turned this pain into a vehicle for helping so many people. I would send in Minnie to you on the hour, every hour, if I could.
Love you. Just LOOK at how far you come and how many people you’ve helped who were at the end of their rope. I will be forever gratefu that these two little girls (I remember your picture) found one another. xo
Ladies and gentlemen. Of all the ways I’ve read about here on PMS, this is the most powerful for me: the way of loving yourself again through looking at a picture of yourself as a kid. I must admit, the first time I saw it, since Natasha often mentions things many times, because everything is connected, I couldn’t use it. I hadn’t yet made my brain used to the new, healing way of thinking. Of saving the rest of the only life I, we have from being in the mud of self doubt. But I got used to loving myself and protecting myself, in little ways, and in big. One day I found a photo. It wasn’t the one picture, where I looked most innocent, most exited. Anyways I didn’t look for it, I found it by coincidences. I’m about five years old meeting Santa clause. Now, I think of her every single day. I wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for this blog.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Aqualina. This made my day.
Love you. xx
I have been following your posts for the last year and I just read the new one about Wife Material and I absolutely loved it! I can’t wait for your book to come out. I’m on the waitlist 🙂 I purchased the No Contact Contract a while back and I just recently started reading it again, (I’ve read it three times now lol.) I had a weak moment with my ex who I’ve been on and off with for two years now just last week and come to find out he had blocked me. He ignored the two voicemails I had left, (I’m proud of myself for not looking nearly as desperate and stopping at 2 because in the past I wouldn’t have, I would have continued to reach out.) Well he ended up texting me yesterday morning saying he had some of my clothes and mail (we lived together, he forced me to move out 3 times in one year ?????) and I tried to respond, but he had blocked me, AGAIN. At that point I had had enough even though I should have a LONG time ago. I finally blocked his number and am giving moving on a real shot. I have also given up going to the gym in an effort to heal and not risk the chance of running into him considering we both go to the same gym. I read the No Contact Contract religiously and I truly couldn’t get through any of this without you. I absolutely love and adore you! ?
Thank you with all my heart!!!
I am so proud of you 🙂 You’re doing the right thing by acting on the fact that you’ve hit your limit and love yourself.
So happy that the NCC course has helped, along with this post. I appreciate and love you very much.
AHHH! CAN’T WAIT for you to read the book. I’m working hard on it. All my love to you sister. xxox