How To...Love Yourself Freely

            For this blog I’m going to take y’all back to October 11, 2014 (my 23rd birthday), this was the beginning of my journey to fully loving myself freely. I had just gone through a major breakup with the man I thought I was going to marry, I was living in a new city far away from anyone I’d known more than a year, and had come to the realization that I didn’t truly love myself. Imagine being 23 years old and coming to that thought, especially when you’d lived all these years assuming you loved yourself. But what does it really mean to love yourself and to do so freely? If you’ve already had this moment with yourself great! But we can all use a little more love right?

1. Stop allowing others to determine how you feel about yourself

            Too many times the negative opinions and criticism of others causes us to adopt that and it plays in our heads as negative self-talk. That self-talk can stick around for decades and it begins to shape how we view ourselves well into adulthood. Challenge that negative criticism and learn who you can and cannot allow to speak into your life. Check the source, does this person always have something negative to say? Or are they both motivating AND holding you accountable? But most importantly, what do YOU have to say about YOU?

            Far too often we are our biggest critics, when really we should be our biggest cheerleader! I’m guilty of this too so I understand the desire to constantly push yourself further than you are currently! You can’t push yourself so hard that you fail to see the good in what you’re currently doing. For me what helps is having people in my corner who hold me accountable, but also remind me to stop and appreciate my accomplishments.

2. Get to know (and accept) yourself…flaws and all!

            It’s crazy to think how we expect others to accept us flaws and all, but do we? I present that question because a lot of us are unwilling to acknowledge let alone accept a part of us that we don’t like. That could be an experience of our past, bad habits, or what we see as character flaws. If you’re going to have a true and genuine relationship with yourself you have to get to know the most intimate parts of ourselves that we often try to hide.

            Take some alone time and figure out exactly who you are! This isn’t going to be a quick process, for me it took locking myself in a room for hours and then a year of deep diving into my deepest insecurities. It may take you less time, it may take longer…but do not rush the process! Write, read, pray, think, process, heck all of the above. Find a way to understand exactly who you are so you can begin to love that person deeply and freely.

3. Date yourself

Falling in love with yourself is similar to falling in love with a romantic interest, to some degree. You have to get to know yourself, spend time doing things you enjoy, set boundaries and expectations for yourself, and learn to accept the deepest flaws/insecurities while motivating yourself to improve upon them. Sounds a lot like what you’d do in a romantic setting right? I’m challenging you to do the same with yourself.

Prior to beginning my journey towards loving myself freely, I used to hate being alone. Even when I lived alone I would constantly invite others over, find excuses to leave the house, or find someone’s house to visit. What I discovered was this was due to my insecurities and not wanting to be alone, I didn’t enjoy my own company. As I began to deal with those issues, I began to appreciate and protect the peace of my alone time. I became really selective over who I allowed to come over and who I was willing to share my space with.

4. Deal with your issues

            A lot of times we as subconsciously push the painful parts ofour past under the rug without fully dealing with the issues they may have caused. If you do not deal with those issues and insecurities, it will only get worse for you in the long run. For years I thought my estranged relationship with my father was a minute issue and as long as he wasn’t causing current pain I was okay. Recently I realized that relationship led to pain, problems, and confusion in my dating life, with friendships, family dynamics, and quite possibly every area of my life. I now see that I have to go back and unpack some of that baggage in order to prepare myself for healthier relationships and a healthier life.

            Sometimes that baggage is too heavy to carry and unpack on your own, that’s okay and I’m proud of you for recognizing that! There are plenty of resources that are available to help with this process. You have me as your development coach for starters!!! Additionally, there are therapists in your area who are willing and able to assist with some of that baggage and guide you in the direction of healthy living. Most importantly, there’s God who is just waiting to carry that load for you…you just have to trust Him enough to give Him your concerns.

5. Just Do It!

            “Inspiration without transformation is nothing” – Toure Roberts. I can give you the most inspiring message in the world, but it means absolutely nothing if you don’t do the work necessary in your life. You have to believe that you’re worth the work, and the moment you make that paradigm shift you won’t be able to stop. Dedicate time to better yourself, because the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one with yourself. Even throughout your busy schedule, you have to find the time to spend with yourself!

            We can have these insecurities or even just things we don’t like about ourselves. If you can’t fix or change it, let go of the stress because it’s not worth it. It’s a waste of mental space and energy to be fixated on things that are beyond your control, and certainly you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. If it is something you can change, come up with a plan to address it and move forward. Be kind to yourself and set goals that move you closer to truly loving yourself freely.

*Bonus*

            You deserve to be loved freely and completely, but that starts with you. If you don’t love yourself and know your true value, how can you expect someone else to do so? Take the time to get to know and love the real you. Stop putting on a front for others, because if they can’t accept the real you they don’t deserve to be in your life. I’d rather know someone hates the real me than know they love the fake or filtered me. Give people the chance to know and love you for who you really are.