Healthy-self-esteem

The Greatest Love Of All: How To Foster Self-Love

“Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all” – Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All

Learning to love yourself as the imperfect being you are sometimes ain’t easy to do, but do it we must for the sake of healthy personal relationships and our ability to make smart, healthy choices.

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After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do it?

And I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism, I’m talking about the kind of self-love that spurs you to make healthy life choices and treat yourself with loving kindness. Experts say developing a healthy level of self-esteem will help us to be less sensitive and more able to accept constructive criticism, express ideas in a calm way, be less dependent and more likely to have our needs met.

We’ll also inevitably be much healthier, happier humans, thus improving and strengthening our personal relationships. Maybe it’s a hard life lesson that comes in your 30s – at least, it was for me.

Learn To Love Yourself

The minute I truly learned to be comfortable in my own skin and accept and enjoy my singleton status, I met my husband soon after.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. But it was a hard-fought lesson; instead of looking for someone to fill a void – a self-love deficit, if you will, as I had done in the past – I made the conscious decision to really work on developing my inner happiness and self-love on my solo journey.

self-love, self-esteem, self-acceptance

A clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says our level of self-love is inevitably shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences, as well as personality traits.

“Life can be difficult for someone who has low self-esteem, for example: someone who doesn’t like him/her self, judges him/herself harshly and expects bad things to happen often. Expectations of negativity can be self-fulfilling, so if you anticipate that there will be lots of criticism and stuff-ups in your life, then these things will often happen. You’ll question your own judgement and will consequently make poor decisions that lead to negative outcomes,” she says.

“Conversely, if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’ll be able to face the challenges and difficulties that life throws at you in a positive way. You’ll have more faith in your own choices and decisions. You’ll be able to assertively stand up for your rights without being aggressive and without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or pushed around. You’ll feel comfortable with who you are and like yourself, so you’ll be less susceptible to depression and anxiety.”

self-love, self-esteem, self-acceptance

But how do we foster such self-love and inner confidence if it’s lacking? Here are some handy expert pointers:

  • Be kind to yourself. If something goes wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and determine to do better next time.
  • Avoid people who pull you down – those who are critical and negative towards you. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and in whose presence you feel good about yourself.
  • Give yourself positive messages, don’t self-criticise. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as: “I’m always messing up, I’ve failed again”, challenge this and change your thinking to something more positive like: “I’ve made a mistake, but what can I learn from this? How can I do better in this situation next time?”
  • Learn to see difficulties as problems to be solved rather than catastrophes. Develop your problem-solving skills and you’ll have more confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with difficult situations, thereby developing your self-esteem as a result.

Of course, if this all seems too difficult to achieve on your own, seek help from a professional relationship counsellor or psychologist.
Images, in order, via www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk; www.freespiritgirl.com and pixabay.com.

Why It’s Vital To Learn How To Say No

It’s been said that the key to failure is trying to please everyone.

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And, growing up, young girls are often taught to be ‘people pleasers’ and then womanhood, plus a lack of assertiveness, equals disaster; women often find themselves super-stressed after taking on way more than they can handle.

Let us not teach our daughters to believe that it’s ‘nice’ to please others rather than thinking about what they want themselves! Assertiveness is vitally important and lacking in a lot women, I believe. And I’m guilty of this myself, on occasion, as are many of my friends: it seems that saying no can be very hard indeed.

There are family, work and social commitments to juggle for starters, let alone some precious alone time, which we all so desperately need for our good mental health. Women can feel so stretched in all directions, you can lose your head, if you’re not careful. No is such a tiny word – so, why is it so hard to say?

But say no we must in order to protect our best interests – why do something you really don’t want to do? And, if by saying yes to something you’ve compromised yourself in any way, you know you’ve made the wrong choice. Maybe learning to say no comes with age; you start to care less about what people think of you and start pleasing yourself a lot more. And, importantly, we all have limits on our time, energies and capabilities: learning what our top priorities are each day and saying no to all else accordingly is a vital life skill.

assertiveness, self-improvement, saying no
Relationship experts say personality characteristics such as insecurity, low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness or fear of disapproval can make it very hard for women to say no. Someone for whom it is important to be approved of and liked and who lacks confidence can find it difficult to challenge a partner, friend or boss who attempts to use them and makes unreasonable demands on their time, generosity or values.

But ladies – it’s terribly important you realise that you can never please everyone and to be strong enough to receive some negativity and criticism without falling apart. Love and nurture yourself enough to set yourself safe boundaries and both accept and deflect any disappointment or disapproval from the person you are saying “no” to. Don’t put everyone else’s interests ahead of yours!

So, how do we actually say no in actual practice? It’s a small, but mighty word that packs a punch. But you don’t have to deliver it in a nasty way: I prefer a “thanks so much for asking me, but no thanks” approach. I love this quote from US educator and author Steve Covey: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”

assertiveness, self-improvement, saying no

Relationship experts also say if someone is asking you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing or which is clearly not in your own best interests, you need to be assertive even if this feels difficult. Assertiveness is about having your own needs met without impacting on the needs of others. Give a clear and decisive “no” and a brief explanation as to why you are unable to fulfil the request. Perhaps give a brief apology, but don’t overdo it; remember that your needs are every bit as valid as the other person’s and ain’t nobody got time for whiny apologies.

Being assertive gets easier with practice, so give it a go. You may even learn to love it because sometimes it feels really good to say no. Finding your voice and asserting yourself are both very important life skills; seek help from a psychologist if this is a problem for you.

What do you think? How do you say no?

Images via the Telegraph, Live Free Blog and Living Brilliance Now