Misguided Self-Love March 5, 2015
What is self-love really? Let’s start by highlighting what it is not. Self-love is not egotistical nor narcissistic. It is not selfish or uncaring. Self-love is quite the opposite. Self-love is knowing our strengths, our limitations, our triggers, and how best to cope and care for ourselves among life’s challenges.
Self-love is accepting ourselves and respectfully behaving or communicating in such a way as to honor our personal needs. All too common, and in a variety of ways, we tend to engage in misguided self-love by default. Falling prey to our past, we do what we’ve learned and what appears to work for us in the short-term to get us through the day. At the same time we place ourselves at an unfair disadvantage with long-term costs.
Misguided self-love shows up in many ways, such as:
- difficulty identifying or communicating how we really feel about a given circumstance
- avoiding people, conversations, or situations that cause us to feel uncomfortable
- sabotaging ourselves out of our true desires
- holding on to low self-esteem
- justifying our behaviors based on someone else’s needs
- experiencing feelings of anger, rage, and resentment
- placing responsibility for our feelings or behaviors onto others
- holding feelings of guilt and shame
- attempting to escape our pain through alcohol or other drugs
- behaving in other self-harming ways (cutting, risky behaviors, eating disorders, etc.)
All of these behaviors at the end of the day are our responsibility and come out of misguided self-love. Misguided by way of developed defenses in attempts to protect ourselves from hurt and pain. Yet all-the-while these behaviors account for our holding onto the hurt and pain. Misguided self-love keeps us suffering. It keeps us from moving forward toward what we want more of in our lives. Sometimes these behaviors even become part of our identity. Through continued default living, we perpetuate a feeling of “I don’t deserve x, y, or z” because these defense behaviors tell us so.
Understanding how we have come to this misguided self-love and developing compassion for ourselves can bring about more acceptance and confidence to truly love and care for ourselves. We move toward self-love by way of addressing our personal needs, honoring our strengths, and honoring our limitations. We are not necessarily fixed in our lives unless we decide to be. Life is always going to be challenging. Many people overcome adversity, struggle or strife, and limitations of all kinds. But they don’t accomplish this without looking at themselves, taking responsibility for what is theirs, and letting go of what is someone else’s. With help we can guide ourselves toward self-love and realize our deservedness.
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