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I grew up with the idea that to create intimacy with myself, I had to get it from others like a partner or have certain types of relationships.
I’m not talking about sexual intimacy; I’m referring to the intimacy that you can have with yourself.
Are you loving yourself unconditionally?
I was never told that the best intimacy that I can create is with myself. Instead, I found myself checking off the boxes and naturally becoming a people pleaser, an overachiever, a perfectionist, and a constant worrier about things that I could not control. I behaved that way so people would like me, so I could feel like I belong, so people would not judge me, and most importantly, so I could feel loved by others because that’s what I really craved.
After I experienced my own quarter-life crisis, I decided that I wanted to do the “deep work” and let go of the layers that were holding me back from becoming who I wanted to be—loving, kind, patient, authentic, and calm. I quickly realized that I avoided vulnerability like oil does with water.
At the core of my “personal issues” was a lack of self-worth, which stemmed from my lack of self-love. My family, my teachers, and even friends loved the person that I was being—the overachiever—but I was unhappy, lonely, and craved love and connection, yet I didn’t know how to create that with others, because self-love and self-intimacy were not values that were taught to me.
I grew up in the Dominican Republic, and growing up, words like “I love you” were never shared even as a child. Hugging each other was foreign, but this is not something that’s cultural. Rather, it came from a family history of trauma and wounds that were not healed.
I moved to New Hampshire at the age of 10, and I quickly realized that my brown skin and full lips made me feel different because there was no one who looked like me. At this age, I was bullied because of my looks and I felt like I did not belong. I had no friends, and the language barrier was a struggle.
Today I know that these experiences shaped my own self-worth and self-love.
Most men and women struggle with self-love, and some avoid it like it is a plague. Others avoid it because they don’t want to face who they are since it would mean that they have to face their past traumas—the suppressed emotions, such as anger, loneliness, sadness, and abandonment.
Creating self-intimacy is not easy; it is a journey that leads you to greater ways of being authentic.
Here are three simple ways you can start practicing self-worth today:
1. Know that how you talk to yourself matters. According to research conducted by the National Science Foundation, around 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. And we have around 12,000-50,000 thoughts daily. Start becoming aware of your negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk. This can make a big difference! Your thoughts create your feelings, and how you feel determines your actions that impact the outcomes in your life.
2. Practice self-compassion. Self-compassion is about being kind toward yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Rather than ignoring your pain or emotion, start telling yourself, “This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself at this moment?”
3. Understand that loving yourself is a daily practice. One daily practice that I do is to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that “I love myself” at least 10 times. When you do this, add the emotion of loving yourself; you can simply think of a happy memory or anything that makes you happy. This will allow you to feel the thought.
The only person who can give you the care that you need 24/7 is you. Yes, friends, family, or your partner may be around, but not 24/7.
I realized that people-pleasing, overachieving, perfectionism, and wanting to control were coming from a place of lack of self-worth, self-love, and self-trust.
You can’t buy self-love through social media, material things, or the people in your life because it is an internal state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.
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