By David Joel Miller
If you do not like yourself you make it hard for others to like you.
During the growing up process, you can accumulate a lot of negative attitudes towards yourself. Someone told you that you were less-than or not worthwhile and you may well have believed them. An important part of recovery is learning to like and eventually to love you.
Developing a healthy respect and appreciation for yourself does not mean that you get conceited. It does mean that this relationship you will have with yourself needs to be positive.
You will spend more time with you than with anyone else on earth. Wherever on earth, you go, when you sleep, you will wake up with you. Learning to like you is an important skill.
Work on being your own best friend and start treating yourself the way you would want your friends to treat you.
Here are some tips for becoming that best friend and learning to like you.
Make time to be with you.
Do not consider time alone down time and go frantically searching for someone to be with or something to do. Learn to enjoy your own company. Take a walk, read a book or just sit mindfully and meditate on nothing in particular. Enjoying your solitude can make interacting more enjoyable also.
Treat yourself the way you would want to be treated.
Do not abuse yourself physically or mentally. Do not call yourself names. Nurture yourself. Ask yourself if you would treat your best friend this way. If the answer is no, don’t do that to yourself either.
Ask yourself questions and write those answers down.
When you first meet a new person you ask them lots of questions. Make up a list of the things you might ask a new acquaintance and then think how you would answer those questions. Write the answers down and periodically look over those statements.
Explore who you are and how you became that person. For some, the best way to get reacquainted with themselves is to write out their autobiography. You do not need to have lived an extraordinary life to have had some extraordinarily interesting experiences. What are some of your life experiences? Where were you when an event in history happened? How did you feel when you heard about an important event?
Compliment yourself – recognize your achievements.
Make sure to give yourself compliments. Learn to recognize when you do something worthwhile and you will be less compliment starved when you are around others.
Knowing a list of the things you have done well can help offset those self-doubts that your life has not been enough and you have not done great enough things.
Inventory the ways you feel loved and then practice these things.
What things do others do for you that make you feel valued and loved? Practice doing these things for yourself. Becoming more self-loving opens up a place for you to express love and positive feelings for others.
Monitor your feelings and take action when needed.
Your feelings are just as valid and important as anyone else’s. Respect and honor those feelings. If you find yourself having an unexpected feeling find out what that is about.
Feelings and intuition can be powerful voices for good if you will just learn to listen to them.
Make meeting your needs a priority.
Getting your needs met should not be an afterthought. Learn to make your needs a priority.
Believe that you deserve to be loved and no one can do this better than you.
Work on experiencing love and on having plenty of it.
Take yourself on a date.
Do something nice for yourself. Travel; go to a movie or dinner alone. Do not look at this as being lonely but as carving out some time to be fully present with yourself.
Keep a list of the things you have accomplished in your life – no discounting.
Write down all the things you have accomplished in your life. Did you play a tree in the Second-grade play, write this down. Do not dismiss this as only a second-grade play. This was an accomplishment for the second grade you. Add up all those achievements and pull out that list for another look during times when you doubt yourself.
Keep a blessing or gratitude list.
Stop thinking that only the things others have matter and you don’t matter. Tell yourself that you have things others only dream of. Do you have a house? Do you have running water and electricity, even if it is just some of the time, this is more than some people have.
Has anyone ever loved you? Have you ever loved someone else? Be grateful for those experiences even if they had to end. Write this list of gratitude’s out and keep adding to it.
Love without strings – unconditionally.
Love as many people as you can as much as you can. Love does not mean being the victim. That is not love, it is bondage. Have you ever had a pet that loved you unconditionally? Look to this memory for a model of what unconditional love should look like.
Forgive yourself daily.
You may or may not be able to forgive others but make self-forgiveness a priority. We all live, we all make mistakes. Accept that this is part of being human and so is forgiving you.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
Raise your self-esteem by loving yourself more.