There are things that stand in the way of reaching the goal of self-love, like not trusting that our feelings are valid, our past negative experiences, and selfjudgment. Sometimes my feelings scare me. I seem to have no control over them—they just appear out of nowhere and take me wherever they are going.
You can’t really measure feelings. Nobody can tell you if my sad is worse than your sad or if someone’s anger is great enough to kill somebody. So this world we live in, filled with technology and scientific explanations, has given feelings a wimpy backseat to the measurable processes.
Feelings may not be measurable, but they are visible every day in the behaviors each person acts out in our world. No matter how much knowledge, self control, or desire we have, feelings of depression, desperation, and love can easily override all of our thinking skills and can hijack us.
A feeling of intense anger might cause someone to hit another person. Feelings of betrayal may cause a woman to leave the home she just built. Feelings of failure might cause a woman to become self-destructive.
Sometimes the negative feelings we have are directed at ourselves.When that happens, self-love has no chance to sneak through. Negative feelings like depression, anger, loss, guilt, and fear—which often lead to negative thoughts about ourselves—have a tendency to take up more mind space and require more attention than love and other positive, uplifting emotions. It is like the kid who gets more attention from mom when he misbehaves; as women we usually put more of our energy toward fixing what is broken or who is hurt than toward basking in the glow of what feels good! “The feeling of fear seems to creep into my life more often than the feeling of Loving Yourself love,” said Tamara. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay all the bills, that I’ve screwed my kids up for life, and that I’m going to be alone forever! I want to be able to feel good feelings, but the bad ones seem to rule my thoughts sometimes.
I have a friend at work who is a single mom too, and she is such a positive person. She told me that she is trying to befriend her negative feelings.
I’ve actually tried her little game and it works. She says that when a bad feeling comes up (like being scared that her boss will make her do a report over again) she says,‘Hello, fear, it is nice to meet you.
My name is Alexis, and I am confident in my ability here at work, so I don’t need what you are selling today!’ It’s a childish game, but it helps me to acknowledge the feeling and then say something positive about myself that helps me to remember that the bad feeling can come and go without having control over me.” Another obstacle to self-love is a negative experience in the past that has convinced us that we aren’t worth loving. “When I was in high school, I was not very pretty,” said Deb.“I was a little on the chunky side, not in the popular group, not really in any group. There was this guy in our class who I thought was gorgeous.
I was sure he had no clue who I was, but he was in my biology class, and one day we started talking and he told me about a party that night. I never had much going on socially so I decided to go to the party with a girlfriend.
When I got to the party I noticed that there weren’t very many people there, and then I saw the guy. He came over and kind of apologetically asked what I was doing at the party. I didn’t know what to say because I thought that his telling me about the party in biology class meant that it was a party that was open to anyone who wanted to attend. I left immediately and felt so humiliated.
That one experience seemed to solidify my belief that I simply was not lovable in any way, and I’m still working on getting rid of that assumption.” Self-judgment can also stand in the way of self-love. “I fall into that category,” said Dani, the mother of three young boys. “No matter what I do, or how well people tell me I’m doing it, there is a little voice in my head that tells me it isn’t good enough.
When I think about it, I probably have had that little voice my whole life. My older sister was great at everything she did, or at least when I was younger it looked that way to me.
Now I realize that there were many things that I was really good at, probably better than her, but nobody really took the time to point that out to me. I make a huge effort now to point out all the talents my boys have. Whenever I point out positive things to my kids I think about all the compliments I wish I could have received from my family and teachers when I was growing up. I guess it isn’t too late to start believing positive things about myself now, even if I am the only one. I know for sure the negative judgments aren’t helping, so why not try something new?”