What years of dealing with anxiety taught me about self-love

Most families seem normal, but if we look closely, we will notice that they are indeed dysfunctional. Sometimes we are growing up in households where the pattern of anxiety and depression have been passed down from generation to generation. No wonder that we did not develop a healthy approach to life as a younger person. 

Don’t get me wrong – I have no desire to blame anyone for my mental state. Just need to outline the point that since I remember ‘loving myself’ was something unimaginable. Encouraging humility, modesty and putting the needs of others in the first place prevented me from developing the feeling that should be the most important thing for everyone – love for oneself. 

Our parents love us, but they don’t know how to teach us loving ourselves merely because they don’t know how to love themselves.

As a teenager, I put on a mask that didn’t show how vulnerable I was. The very thought of someone seeing that I was weak, fragile, scared and feeling unworthy scared me. Hence I played the role of someone who doesn’t care about anything. Sinking into neurosis accompanied by overuse alcohol and drugs made all the fears that consumed me from the inside grew. Because sometimes you think you’re killing fear with drugs, but you’re just feeding it. 

And then you enter adult life equipped with luggage filled with guilt, low self-esteem, fear of other people, fear of the death, lack of a sense of purpose, traumas, lack of self-confidence, timidity, toxic perfectionism, inferiority complex, comparing to others, self-harm, insecurity. It’s a lot to take for one person. Sometimes it seems unmanageable to find warm feelings towards ourselves among all these harmful emotions. But nothing is impossible.

Learning to love yourself is not about standing in front of a mirror and repeating ‘I love you’. It’s not about forcing yourself to take actions that you think you should do but don’t feel at all. In my experience, the smallest steps we take every day are the most important. Because self-love, among other things, it’s a mixture of everyday habits and small things you can do that make you feel worthy. 

Self-love is:

  • saying ‘no’ if you think ‘no’ and saying ‘yes’ if you think ‘yes’
  • limiting contacts with people who are bad for your well-being
  • removing someone from your life
  • knowing that it’s ok not being productive all the times
  • resting when you are tired
  • investing in your development
  • surrounding yourself with things that make you happy
  • not spending time on things and people that are not worth it
  • not meeting people if you don’t feel like it
  • pleasing yourself
  • make yourself feeling comfortable
  • applying for a better job and more money
  • taking care of your body – nourishing it with healthy food and keeping it in good condition
  • doing things you love to do
  • taking alone time when you need it
  • getting enough sleep every day
  • realizing that you don’t have to be nice to everyone
  • and that you don’t have to please everyone
  • knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes
  • reaching out for help and support
  • leaving an unsatisfactory relationship
  • not blaming yourself for your past
  • not explaining yourself to anyone
  • spending money on the things you desire
  • feeling good about receiving compliments
  • standing for yourself
  • nurturing dreams, even the craziest ones
  • admitting difficult emotions
  • expressing your own opinion
  • not living to people’s expectations
  • setting boundaries and sticking to them 
  • accepting not being perfect
  • be proud of your achievements

What would you add to this list?

3 Comments

  1. A very thoughtful piece. Self-love seems so easy but doesn’t come naturally from within. We always have to teach ourselves, it’s always a learning curve. It’s ironic how much we love other people, but are clueless on how to love ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t put it better. Besides, it is a never ending work, because this self-love exists on a spectrum, therefore you always have to mind it.

      Liked by 1 person

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