When I was a kid, I used to be told that I better not get sick, that I’m a burden, etc. I then developed fear or anxiety of getting sick or feeling bad. I don't feel comfortable sharing my health issues with anyone. And I’m fearful of becoming a “burden”. If there was one thing, I wanted you to take away from this post it would be: you can change the way you are used to think about yourself, but it requires patience and practice.
At the age of 10 I found myself completely trapped in self-loathing and guilt. I thought I was a terrible kid, weak and stupid. Many times, I cried myself to sleep, and I thought that was the only way that was right for me to do, because at the end of the day what else do "bad people" deserve?
My every day activity was associated with fear: to do something wrong, to disappoint my parents and to disappoint myself. It might sound dramatic, but if you ever experienced something like that, I am sure you understand.
Self-love wasn't an option back then, I didn't think it was important, I didn't even know what it was, to be honest. Growing up as a Christian, I thought constant guilt is something that God expected me to feel. Looking back, I am grateful for this experience as it brought me where I am now.
When you are trapped in the negative mindset, you keep staying a victim of your past or present circumstances, and you will always find a reason to say: see, I told you, nothing good’s going to happen.
If all you know is “I am worthless”, it’s hard to make a shift into positive thinking. This saying probably became a part of you with time, as it has become a part of me. But once I started to understand my psychology better, when I got to see how important my role is in my life (I used to blame other people), I got the infinite desire to change. I became passionate about knowing and understanding myself better, I started to read a lot about mental strength, confidence and happiness. All of the sudden my old broken self saw the potential in me. I wanted to see what I was capable of. How changing my mindset can transform my life. I didn’t want to stay miserable anymore as I understood that not only my negative thoughts impacted my mental health, but also my physical one. I realized that the closest person that I will ever have in my life is me, and I started to have compassion to myself. Once you have that compassion it is a first step for self-love.
What is patience
Patience is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself while you are on your journey to self-love. Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset, according to definition. Whatever changes you want to see in yourself - it will take time, and you will have to accept if you need more time than someone you know.
Patience requires ability to be present in the moment and letting go of need to be in control, because there are things, we don't have any control of. I personally had to understand that it took me long time to get where I am now, to disrupt my physical and mental balance, and it will take time to fix it.
When you are patient you are ready to wait, no matter how long it will take. And you will also be able to accept unpredictable outcomes, failures and weak moments as they are inevitably going to show up on your way. Patience is an important part of a life-long commitment to yourself and your goals. I had to accept that in order to help myself I must fully commit to my goal to be happy and forgive myself whenever I feel like I failed, so I could move forward.
What is practice
Everything that we do in life on a regular basis turns into habit. It can be a bad or a good habit, but we hold on to most of our habits, because we as human beings cling to something that is familiar, that brings us comfort. For someone getting a cup of coffee and having a cigarette in the morning can bring comfort. Is it good for them? The answer is no, but they like to think that it's important for their well-being.
Many habits that we have can be destructive. Self-hatred is one of those habits. At times it may seem like it’s comfortable as it is so familiar – we don’t know better. Stopping guilt, self-loathing and pity can be dreadful as it would mean letting go of one of our identities – “I am a victim”, “I am always in pain”, “There’s no better way for me”.
Self-love is an inner work on your belief systems, learnt behaviors and reactions. Self-loathing is a learnt reaction to triggers. It became a comfort-zone for me as it was something that my brain knew well how to do. It brought me to the place that I knew well how to exists in - place of suffering and misery.
The same way as I got there, I had to move from one place to another and go through "homesick" time, when I’d literally miss those moments of victimhood. I knew there was a better place for me, and I could get there if only I had enough patience and perseverance. And I believe I have what it takes.
I must practice self-love daily in order to make it my comfort-zone, my default state. I catch toxic thoughts that bring me down as soon as they appear and transform them into healing and encouraging tools. I don't let myself be miserable for a long time. I try not to cry for a long time, reminding myself that I am not a victim, and I am in control of my own emotions.
Becoming my own care-provider
When I was a kid, I used to think nobody loved me, therefore I am unhappy. Now I understand how absurd that really was, at least it is for me now. I gave others power over my life.
When I learnt enough to understand that I have more power over my life than anyone else, I also realized that I am the one who will take care of myself better than anyone else.
It meant that I no longer should be afraid to be a burden because if I love myself, I also want to take care of myself therefore it is not a burden. Of course, it is a work in progress, and I am still fearful of being a burden for others but building a good relationship with myself was crucial for me to start taking responsibility. Responsibility for my life, my health, the way I think and feel.
Self-love isn’t a luxury and not a privilege, it is something each one of us owes to themselves. It doesn’t matter what you feel about yourself now, how hard it is for you to even imagine that you could one day look in the mirror with love and pride. You can start your journey to self-love today. Start with a small step: listen to yourself, don’t judge your thoughts and emotions. Start with patience and practice. You won't lose anything if you at least try.