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3 Ways To Develop Real Self Love

0 Heart it! Jenn Bovee 77
October 21, 2018
Jenn Bovee
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From all of the stereotypical measures, I should be the last person in the world talking about the importance and validity of self-love. Let me just recap the ways in which society has told me I shouldn’t be worthy or deserving of self-love: I’m not physically healthy (I live with numerous chronic health conditions), I’m overweight, I use a wheelchair in public because of my lack of strength and stamina, I live with chronic physical pain,  I’m divorced and remarried, I’m not a biological parent, I’m very imperfect, and I refuse to cover my body up to make other people more comfortable. According to the standards set down by much of society, I’m the last person who should be talking about or advocating for self-love. Let alone actually deeply loving myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I bought into that myth for many years of my life. I believed because of all of these external things I didn’t deserve love. In my mind, the only choice was to bully and abuse myself into coercion. I remember when I would read these articles on self-love and I would think, “When I am thinner  I will be able to love myself.” I used that lack of self-love in an attempt to manipulate and badger myself into losing weight. It just never worked for me. I really tried everything that all of the “self-love” experts had suggested!

I found my depression worsening, my alcoholism was growing more out of control, and my propensity to engage in self-harm was deepening more and more by the day. Self-love began to feel like that illustrious white rabbit, and the more I chased it the farther away from my grasp it became. The only conclusion my warped brain could fathom was that I was too damaged and too defective to experience this magical self-love that everyone else experiences.

To add insult to injury, I was surrounded by well-meaning people. They continued to say things like, “if only you could see yourself the way that we see you.” Whether it was the depression I was experiencing or my warped brain this just didn’t make sense to me. I mean, surely I was the one who saw myself accurately?

The more I hated myself the more my life began to fall apart. My physical health issues worsened, my job began to take it’s toll, my finances plummeted, and there was no joy or peace in my life to be experienced. I remember vividly looking at my stomach (and all its glorious skin) in the mirror and deciding that I was going to resign as the chairperson of the “beat the life out of Jenn because she’s not worthy” committee. At this point, I felt I had nothing left to lose. I mean, I had already attempted to end my own life, I tried to drink myself to death, I stopped feeding my body for weeks at a time, and I was still alive and kicking! The only thing that made sense was to give this “self-love” thing a shot. I literally had nothing left to lose.

By this time in my life, I had studied how the subconscious mind works, so I began incorporating self-love techniques with a twist of subconscious mind focus. I suspect that is why these techniques were so powerful for me. I have literally watched my perception, interaction, and treatment of myself change before my very own eyes. I have also changed the way I allow other people to interact with me. While I don’t attempt to mandate that other people treat me in a loving manner, I no longer tolerate abuse, neglect, coercion, or manipulation from those people I surround myself with. If you are exhausted from abusing and neglecting yourself if you long to resign from the committee that bullies and degrades you, or you just want to develop a bit more compassion for yourself, I would encourage you to keep reading. My recommendation for implementing a foundation for real self-love includes:

Keep Perspective: For myself, and many of the clients I work with, any little infraction is worthy of bringing out the firing brigade of assaults on our self-worth and integrity. In keeping perspective, I recommend that you recognize that everything is relative. I typically ask myself these questions: Did anyone die? Did I intentionally create harm or malice? Did I clean it up to the best of my ability? If so then I have to let it go and relinquish the right to beat myself to death over whatever happened. When we have a history of self-abuse and self-neglect we typically have become programmed to constantly scan the horizon for more things we have messed up. I really love being able to focus on what I did right today, on who I helped today, and how I attempted to make the world just a wee bit better than it was before I woke up.
Acceptance: This is one of the most powerful techniques I have ever experienced. When I accept something that doesn’t mean I have to love it or even approve of it. It simply means it is the way it is right here right now. For example, I don’t love the weight my body is currently at. My doctors keep telling me that my fat cells are filled with toxins, so we are working on detoxing this body.  I have accepted that my body is very imperfect and regardless of what my body is doing I deserve to feel and experience love. Specifically from myself. When we accept that thing that is blocking us from loving ourselves, we are forced to stop judging ourselves for it. Judgment never leads to self-love or self-acceptance.
Gratitude: For many people, this will feel very trite upon first reading this, but please hang in there with me. However, gratitude is such a powerful experience. My recommendation to my clients is to put there hands on whatever part of their physical body they don’t like the most and express gratitude for it. For example, the bane of my existence for so many years had been my enlarged stomach. I now regularly run my hand over my stomach and thank my stomach for working so hard to protect me. For always supporting me and for not holding the ways in which I have abused it against me. Even something as simple as “I love you” is a game changer when we’ve lived a life of self-abuse and self-neglect.

Obviously, these are not the only things I do (or even recommend to my clients) to develop a solid foundation of self-love. I’m a big proponent for using techniques such as tapping (The Emotional Freedom Technique), self-hypnosis, meditation, affirmations, journaling, etc. However in my experience, and that of the clients I work with, implementing these three techniques will begin to lay the foundation of self-love for you.

Jenn Bovee is a psychotherpist and Wholeness Coach for Driven Women. She’s the author of How To Learn To Love Yourself. Learn more about Jenn here:

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