[She] that falls in love with [herself] will have no rivals
- Benjamin Franklin
If I were to ask you, “Do you love yourself?” What would you say? I’ll bet you’re reading this article because you’re curious, but you’d say you totally love yourself, right?
What do you say we test that declaration of love for just a minute? Ask yourself if any of these is true for you...
You Beat Yourself Up. Constantly!
You’ve been programmed to think that failure is not acceptable. You judge yourself harshly when you make mistakes, believing you “should know better.” You point out all your flaws and foibles before someone else has the chance.
You Don’t Celebrate (or You Downplay) Wins
Always pushing ahead full steam, you rarely take a beat to acknowledge how far you’ve come. You have a tough time receiving compliments or praise. When you’re called out for good work, you minimize it or give credit to someone else. Even if you acknowledge a job well done, you’re quick to point out what could have been better or what you’d do differently next time.
You Compare Yourself to Others Negatively
You see your peers going farther faster than you seem to be. Even when you experience success, you point to a colleague who seems to be doing better than you. It’s hard for you to celebrate another’s success because all you can think of is why you couldn’t achieve or experience the same.
You Don’t Set and Maintain Strong Boundaries
You’re working yourself to death. You rarely take breaks, you de-prioritize self care, you sacrifice sleep. You take your laptop on vacation - that is, if you even take vacation. You take on extra work without even attempting to negotiate. You accept non-promotable tasks to be seen as a team player. Even at home, you put everyone else first.
Bottom line: You're exhausted, and you have your share of days where you just don't know if it's worth it to keep pushing at this career thing.
Sister, you are not alone. Women often wear these forms of self mutilation as badges of honor. And it’s a total load of crap.
Look. I’m not here to beat you up about it (You do a fine enough job of that on your own!). It’s just that I’ve learned a thing or two about true self love. And one of those things is that we give lip service to self love, but our behaviors toward ourselves often tell a slightly (or maybe even radically) different story.
And it’s not your fault. From a tiny age, you’ve been taught to tamp down your true expression. To suppress your fire. Straighten up and fly right! Stop crying! Don’t be too proud! Don’t outshine your sister! Be nice! ...Do I need to go on?
You’ve absorbed the collective trauma of all women, and what's been passed down by your female ancestors for generations, that has programmed you to feel less than. Society places enormous expectations on how you should look, how you should behave, what’s acceptable and what is not. You’ve inherited generations of conditioning which signals that you’re worth less than men.
So naturally you’re constantly scanning and assessing whether you’re measuring up, and pushing yourself to be more, do more, shine more...but not too much more, because that’s bad too.
It all boils down to this: You think that this self abuse is how to actually achieve excellence.
But what if I told you that when you perpetuate these behaviors, you’re actually creating a cycle that is holding you back?
Or rather, your mind is creating this cycle.
More specifically, your subconscious is sabotaging you. Your mind has one job, and one job only: To protect you from death. This worked fantastically (most of the time!) for our ancient ancestors who had to constantly assess danger outside the cave and fit in with the tribe so that they wouldn’t be eaten by tigers.
These days, tigers aren’t really a danger. But being shown up by a peer or called out for not knowing an answer or criticized for not delivering a project on time feels just the same as death to your mind. So it goes into hyperdrive to protect you from these perceived threats.
Your mind, in a feeble attempt to keep you safe, has been running the show. But your mind, the most sophisticated tool in your possession, is still not sophisticated enough to discern between death and embarrassment or even failure. So it sends you into overdrive to keep pushing and perfecting and endlessly scanning for danger. Your mind, in full-on protection mode, has been driving. And it’s time to take back the wheel.
This is where you start to learn the opposite of what your mind has been telling you. And it all starts with one thing: Loving yourself.
And I mean actively loving yourself. Like dating yourself. Like, in the words of Lizzo, “Imma marry me one day” loving yourself.
When you truly love yourself, you don’t need validation from anyone else. No matter who they are. You put yourself first in healthy ways. You don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake or forget something or blow a workout. When you love yourself, you heap praise and adoration on yourself. You take care of yourself. You aren’t critical of every flaw on your body; you are friends with your body!
This is unconditional love, and it’s a total game changer. Bring to mind the image of someone you love in this way. For many, that’s a child. Think critically about how you speak to this child. Think how you put their needs above your own. Think of how you’re patient (or strive to be!). Think of how your expectations are different of them than other