"What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing, that there’s just too little of…" Those words were true long before Ms. Dionne Warwick sang them, and they’re even more true today. Although we may not have direct control over the amount of love demonstrated in the world, we are in complete control over the amount of love we show to ourselves.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these beautiful words and you are deserving of saying them to yourself in addition to expressing them to your beloved. Unfortunately, so many of us find it easier to love and to show our love for others than to do so for ourselves. This problem also makes it difficult for us to fully receive genuine love from others.
That’s why I came up with this list. There are numerous ways that we devalue, demean and dishonor ourselves. Most of the time that we do these things, we aren’t intentionally choosing to hate on ourselves. Often, we don’t even see these acts as being hateful toward ourselves. We may have established a bad habit that’s grown out of control. Some of us are continuing a legacy that was left to us as a part of family dynamics. And, others may be under the false impression that if we don’t do these things, we’ll get “the big head” and be conceited. Either way, it must be called out for what it is, so that we can learn and grow. The price we pay for these bad habits include feeling diminished, low self-esteem, not knowing your self-worth or acknowledging your value. The return on investment (ROI) is settling for your plan B life (or worse your plan Z life), not getting the promotions or career advancement you desire, having an unhappy/unfulfilling marriage, or not attracting your SoulMate and starting the family you desire.
· Constantly criticizing myself
· Allowing sins I’ve committed to make me disconnect from God
· Eating unhealthy foods in excess
· Not forgiving myself for past mistakes
· Allowing any of the following to be a part of my identity: victim, failure, big girl, spinster, loser, too old, too young, not enough
· Punishing myself for not being perfect
· Allowing other to punish me for not being perfect (or not being whatever they want me to be)
· Filling my space with so much clutter (both tangible and intangible) it drains my energy and robs me of peace
· Holding on to clothes that don’t fit or flatter me, yet refusing to get more flattering clothes until I lose weight (but I’m not actually actively pursuing weight loss, so I stay stuck in an unattractive limbo)
· Continuing to make the same mistakes repeatedly, and not learning from them
· Becoming negligent in my prayer life
· Holding on to relationships that bring me down and stunt my growth
· Holding grudges, resentment and unforgiveness
· Allowing a painful past to make me bitter, cynical and hard-hearted
· Abusing my body by drinking alcohol, smoking, doing illegal drugs, or abusing Rx drugs
· Allowing sins I’ve committed to become my identity
· Making excuses so I don’t evolve into the best version of myself or experience God’s best in my life
· Disrespecting myself physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually
· Permitting a “loved one” to abuse me or my children physically, emotionally, financially, sexually, religiously, verbally or reproductively
This list is not comprehensive, but it gives a solid foundation of what NOT to do. As women, particularly progressive women of faith, we have so many reasons to be in love with ourselves. We’ve even been commanded to do so, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Of course, that means we must actually LOVE ourselves. Many of us don’t even know where to start when it comes to falling back in love with ourselves. It’s one of the most common things I see my clients battling. That’s why I created my program “IGNITE Your LOVE Life By Falling Back In LOVE With YOU.” Ms. Tina Turner famously asked us “What’s love got to do with it?” To that I reply, “Everything.”
Wende Sanders, MS, CC,CEG is a Certified Life Coach and the founder of The Phenomenal Lifestyle™ Women’s Center, the premier personal development coaching and training company for progressive women of faith. She created the IGNITE Your LOVE Life By Falling Back In LOVE With YOU™ program to help women stop struggling with feeling unworthy and wondering “How did this become my life?!” so they can start experiencing the true love and acceptance they deserve from themselves and from others. She's blissfully married to her SoulMate and is happy to love herself now more than ever.