Have you tried to love yourself as you love your neighbor? Is it difficult to accept yourself? Do you struggle with low self-esteem? Do others call you selfish even though you try to please others? Are you struggling to forgive yourself for things you are currently doing or things you’ve done in the past? Do you feel lost when it comes to self-care? Do you find that you are pretty hard on yourself? Is it much easier to help and tend to the needs of others then your own needs? Do you find yourself sacrificing for others only to neglect what you need to do for you?

You may wonder if there is a solution to low self-esteem or that your internal struggle with self-love is hard to bear. We are here for you. It is our hearts’ desire to help you sort out these difficult questions and battles and make sense of loving yourself, to greatly improve joy, to find satisfaction in your life, to be optimistic of the future, to embrace life’s challenges and rewards. Your story is important to us and worth understanding.

If you’ve answered “yes” to some or many of the above questions, you are not alone. In fact, we have found that many people find it difficult to love and care for themselves. They may not fully see that self-love is needed and the notion of self-esteem is being prideful which may push away or reduce the needs of others.

Within the need of self-love and to esteem one’s self may create much internal conflict for you which may trigger depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, fear, guilt, shame, or any combination of these. Let’s take a closer look at these things including: what is and why self-care, roadblocks, foundation, power of, and pursuing self-love.

What is and why self-care?

In its simple form, self care is just that…caring for one’s self. It’s being intentional with caring for one’s physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual self.  It is also accepting yourself for who you are. Whether we are looking in the mirror, making adjustments to our face and hair, getting dressed, eating, drinking, thinking positively, surrounding ourselves with encouraging messages, being with positive people, or praying we are caring for ourselves.  To what degree and extent in these areas will vary between people. Some people spend more time with certain parts of themselves while neglecting other parts. Self care is about balanced care. This looks to embrace a fulfilling life.

Roadblocks to self-love

There are times when you may want to really want to take care of yourself but there are so many commitments that are pressing on you. You have children, a partner, long work hours, demanding customers or clients, deadlines, social clubs, church functions, aging parents with needs, after-school activities for the kids, classes or training, and the list goes on and on. When is there time for you? Everyone else has needs, wants and even demands and though you may want to complain or say, “What about me?” whispering it under your breath but to no avail. So let’s look at what is meant here as roadblocks. Your roadblocks may seem clear at times but then nebulous or misunderstood.

So here are some you may find as roadblocks–

~Over-scheduled calendar
~Difficulty saying “No” to others’ needs, wants, demands
~Putting your needs last
~Not valuing your needs as important as others’ needs
~Believing you are less important
~Believing that when you meet others’ needs they will in turn meet yours
~Low expectations of meeting your own needs
~High expectations of being sure others are okay or getting their needs met

Some roadblocks are external…such as needs, demands of others; some roadblocks are internal…what you tell yourself about self-love; and a combination of both…over booked schedule. Then we look to self-care.

The puzzle’s pieces (foundation) of self-care

You may wonder from time to time what the big deal is for exercising self-love. No, we are not saying a preoccupation of self or self-centeredness.  What

Valuing life. When you value life, this includes yourself. When you slow down or stop caring for yourself you may find a tendency to not care much for life as well. Others are important and caring for them is good yet losing that care for yourself may cause you to push others away who want to be there for you. An example of this is like when you board a plane and the flight attendant comes out with the seat belt and oxygen mask demo and procedure. If you need to use the mask, secure your mask on first then assist your child or others needing assistance second. In order to assist them, you need to be breathing well in your mask first. This is important.

Self-responsibility.  With learning the importance of you and that you are important, comes the value of taking ownership for you.  Being accountable for your own thoughts, feelings, actions and attitude and allowing others the same freedom.  When one considers blaming another for their own failures or mistakes, then there’s a lack of self-responsibility and the sense of self.  Before getting the speck out of the other person’s eye, get the log out of yours. This may imply that when one may be angry, upset, or hold a prejudice toward another; this attitude will affect how one will handle a situation or interaction with someone else. Identifying and facing while working through past hurts

Self-compassion. This involves a bit of self-care in that you feed and clothe yourself, seek medical assistance when needed, dress warmly, educate yourself, take pride (acknowledge when you have done a good job) in your work, learn from your mistakes, laugh at yourself, laugh with others at funny things, stop to smell the roses along the way, and other positive, healthy ways to be compassionate towards yourself.  It also means to be kind to yourself, and when applicable, forgive yourself. Many times we can be our own worse critic. Yes, there are times when we need to evaluate our behavior, our attitude and listen to others in order to clear up or change unwanted or ugly stuff, however we need to be gracious and fair to ourselves and embrace wholeness, honesty, respect, and dignity in who we are as human beings.

The power of self-care (love)

The power of self-care starts with realizing the need for it. Being kind and compassionate towards yourself takes an intentional effort. Here are some ways to practice self-care.

Put it into your schedule. Set aside the time. Let others directly involved in your life know that you are taking some time for you. Take the time to relax, reflect, enjoy the moment.

Care for your body. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, going for a walk, exercising regularly, stretching, drinking your favorite tea or coffee are just a few things to consider in the care of your body. Another way to care for your body is self-soothing touch…such as a gentle massage of your hands, shoulders, or other parts of your body as well as using your hands to warm your arms or legs. This may seem odd but touch has a way of being soothing.

Reflect on your successes.  Whether big or small, accomplished goals or little everyday accomplishments can be seen as successes.

Receive other people’s compliments. This may be difficult at times, but recognize the compliment and say “thank you”.

Write (or type) a journal. Journaling is a wonderful tool of self expression and getting your thoughts and feeling out.  This helps to acknowledge to yourself what’s going on inside of you. Sorting these things out however may be best helped with a very trusted friend or counselor.

Practice mindfulness. This is a form of relaxation with focusing on positive thoughts, focusing on a pleasant scene in your thoughts/imagination while allowing your body to relax as you imagine being there. For example: some may imagine being on a beach listening to the waves and seagulls while imaging feeling the gentle breeze and warm sun on their skin.

Pursuing self-love

This is a day to day conscious effort to prepare, practice and do. We have found that those clients who work through letting go of the things that have bogged them down, learn and practice self-care are much more likely to gain a stronger sense of confidence, hope, peace, joy and contentment in their lives. Though self-love is a portion of who we are and what we do as people,we are better for it in ourselves and much more to those around us. We can truly love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

If you are struggling with self-love and would like to learn more about starting counseling with us, please feel free to call us at 520-292-9750 or email joel@pathwaystucson.com