We live in a world that is constantly testing our self-worth, and with so many demands dictating who we “should” be (and by when), it can be difficult to look in the proverbial mirror without notating a dozen and a half flaws. Though words like “self-care” and “treat yourself” are tossed at us daily, the truth is that many of us are in need of a lot more than baths with masks and large glasses of wine. If you’re someone who is questioning whether or not to do the very hard work of learning to love and accept yourself (which is often accompanied by a good therapist), we’d like to congratulate you and offer you some real support. Today, we are highlighting 12 ways learning to love yourself will change your life (trust us, we did it).
1 | You recognize that not everyone will love you (and that’s OK)
It’s perfectly normal to want to be liked and accepted (especially when we are really into someone), but chemistry is a tricky thing in all areas of life and that means you’re just not going to vibe with everyone (no one does). When we are not feeling good about ourselves, it’s not uncommon to equate these natural differences as significant rejections of who we are, sometimes even using them a measure of our own self-worth. If this sounds familiar, take it as a sign you need to do some work. While we all want to be universally loved, the truth is that not everyone will think you’re funny/smart/attractive/lovable, but many others will. The key is to work to find enough value in yourself to withstand dismissals without seeing them as “proof” of anything more than we all have a unique set of needs, wants and desires.
2 | You become fiercely protective of your happiness.
When you have not yet learned to love yourself, the concept of “happiness” is often diluted down to a small series of “hits” that come by way of doing things that bring us momentary joy (i.e., cocktails on a Friday night) or doing things we think others will approve of. The problem with this approach is that we are in constant chase of a high that is always followed by a heavy crash. It’s never about feeling really good, it’s just a way to feel less crappy. People who love and respect themselves have a very clear definition of happiness that isn’t about momentary elation, but consistent fulfillment, peace-of-mind and having a real connection with their life and the people in it. They work hard to design a life they love and will put themselves out for others and indulge here and there, but never at the expense of what matters most to them.
3 | Setting boundaries becomes second nature.
One of the biggest signs your self-esteem needs a boost is not being able to draw lines or making them so flexible no one will take you seriously. Whether it’s because you fear rejection, retaliation, don’t feel worthy or simply don’t trust yourself, not letting people know when they have crossed a line is one of the most self-destructive acts we can participate in. Not only will we feel constantly victimized and frustrated, we deny those in our lives the opportunity to alter behavior that will inevitably corrode our relationships. We all have various comfort levels and breaking points and sharing them is a normal and healthy way to build better bonds.
4 | You’re super calm.
When you don’t feel good about yourself, everything is a cause of anxiety. Whether it’s reading too much into a text, a friend not texting you back, projecting fears onto a new relationship or personalizing someone’s bad behavior, day-to-day life can feel chaotic and scary. When you know and like who you are, you are clear about what you want and feel secure in your values, vision, and decisions. This brings about a comforting confidence that helps you stay balanced during those unsteady life moments we all face. Instead of seeing everything as a threat or freaking out every time someone upsets you and you’re able to decipher what is worth your attention and energy and what isn’t. You may even find yourself being kinder when dealing with your day-to-day annoyances simply because you’re able to see how little they matter in the big picture.
5| Pleasing everyone else is no longer your top priority.
As children, many of us (especially women) were taught that being accommodating equates to being “nice” or that it’s our responsibility to do things for others. In adulthood, we learn that excessive bowing can break your back and it’s not our duty to say “yes” to every favor we are asked for. Making others happy is a good thing only when it’s not at the expense of yourself. This doesn’t mean that you don’t compromise here and there, but constantly giving at the expense of your own needs doesn’t make you nice–it makes you a pushover. Loving yourself means speaking up when you want to do something, saying “no” when you don’t and sharing your thoughts when your own needs are not being met. Anyone worth your time will respect your right to rock your own individuality and will appreciate your need to live an authentic life.
6| Your ego no longer runs the show.
When you don’t like yourself, any criticism, however small, can feel like a serious attack. One man told me that if felt as though his mask had been pulled off and ugly parts of himself exposed every time someone made a light joke at his expense. Having a good sense of who you are means knowing that you’re not perfect and being OK with it. People who love themselves are able to listen to constructive criticism without taking it as an attack on their identity or a full-fledged rejection. They care more about working things out than being “right” and are able to listen to a partner’s discontent, a boss’s feedback or a colleagues frustration without going down a rabbit hole or burning the proverbial house down.
7| You’re all about clear, adult communication.
When you don’t trust or value yourself, you’re often afraid of having “big talks” because you’re worried about the consequences (being abandoned, being seen as “difficult” etc). Confident, happy people value clarity and are not afraid to talk about things that matter to them. As such, they will are unafraid to reach out and have a difficult discussion in order to clarify a misunderstanding and they will do their very best to make sure all parties are clear about objectives, needs and desired outcomes. They work to stay focused on the topic at hand and come up with solutions that work for everyone involved.
8| You love lifting people up.
When you feel good about yourself, you want others to feel good and are not threatened by the success or happiness enjoyed by those around you. You know that there is enough to go around and are happy to offer a smile to a stranger, check in with a sad neighbor and are the first to rise to your feet and applaud when someone in your circle achieves a goal.
9| You can fight without it being more than a fight.
Fighting with someone you care about is never fun, but when you don’t have a strong personal foundation, they can be terrifying as they can always feel like “the end”. When you love yourself, you’re able to stand your ground and respect someone else for standing theirs without making it a bigger drama than it is. You know that sometimes people do not see eye-to-eye and things get heated and that’s what sincere apologies are for.
10| You know it’s not always about you.
We are all living individual lives and are a culmination of our own unique experiences. This means that we will have fears, needs, wants, thoughts, and dreams that bring about actions and reactions that don’t always make sense to those around us. When someone behaves in a peculiar or hurtful way, our response can range from hurt to annoyed, but when you know and love yourself, you’re able to recognize that it’s not a personal hit. This doesn’t mean you need to put up with bad behavior or accept disrespect, it simply allows you to separate yourself from it.
11| You are able to walk away.
This one is rarely easy for anyone, but knowing your worth means that you don’t sell yourself short by staying in situations where they are not being treated well in their business or personal relationships. It’s not always easy, but they are the first to cut their losses and move on.
12| You have much better relationships
People who love and respect themselves are attractive, vibrant and inspiring which means they tend to attract those who share similar traits. A group of respectful, communicative, supportive, loving and healthy people… who doesn’t want a #tribe like that?
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