Stop waiting for perfection

Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

Human beings have an embedded fight-or-flight reaction to threats. For most of human history, we were exposed to physical threats constantly. However, now that our physical environment is quite safe, our threats have shifted from external to internal. Now, rather than worrying about being killed by a tiger, you’re worried about your self-esteem. You’re worried about what people think about you. You’re worried about not being good enough. You’re worried about offending other people. You’re worried about failing.

Most people live a life of fear because their main concern is their own feelings. Most people pursue relationships and careers they believe will make them happy. But you cannot directly pursue happiness. Happiness can only come as the unintended side-effect of pursuing a cause greater than yourself. Purpose trumps passion always.

Do you feel bad about yourself? Unworthy? Unlovable? Maybe you even hate yourself. Maybe you feel stupid, fat, and ugly – and maybe you do bad things to your body and spirit because you think you deserve to be treated poorly. Stay open to different ideas for loving yourself. You might be surprised to find what works and what doesn’t! Open your mind and spirit, and allow the still small voice to shine light into the dark places of your soul.

Without a healthy sense of self-love, you can’t bring your full, whole, unique, authentic and free self into this world. You can’t develop positive relationships or a meaningful purpose in your life unless you know how to love and care for yourself. Learning how to love yourself gives you the freedom to do what you truly love the most in life. You’ll be able to find healthy people to have good relationships with, and you’ll help others cope with their own struggles. You’ll move from not feeling good enough to feeling like you have the strength and power to handle anything that comes your way.

People often try many different ways to get rid of their negative thoughts, including distractions, diversions or ‘drowning their sorrows’ only to later mentally beat themselves up for being still stuck in their negativity. It can feel like a real internal battle. These are common strategies that attempt to stop the thoughts and numb the pain in the short term but they only make things worse in the long term. It doesn’t fix the problem at its core. Worry is when the mind projects into an imagined future and conjures up scenes and thoughts about what could go wrong.

Negative thought patterns are repetitive, unhelpful thoughts. They directly cause what we could describe as ‘negative’ (unwanted or unpleasant) emotions like anxiety, depression, stress, fear, unworthiness, shame etc. The problem is not that we have negative thoughts. The problem comes when we believe our thoughts are true. When you are no longer entangled in thoughts they lose their grip on you and lose their power to generate unpleasant emotions. When the mind continuously hones in on what is wrong with yourself (and your life) and disassociates from what is going well and is good, we can become stuck in negativity.

You might focus on the lack in your life and believe that nothing will ever get better for you. Stress-related to your financial future, the welfare of your children or your partner leaving you fit into this category. There is nothing wrong with having goals and aiming to get fitter or healthier and the like—we can simply choose to do those because they are good for us or we want to stretch and grow. It’s a very different headspace to be doing those things because we don’t feel like we’re enough yet.

Notice that many negative thoughts mostly flow from two directions. The first is dwelling on the past—maybe you ruminate over mistakes, problems, guilt and anything in your life that did not go the way you believe it should have gone. The second is worrying about the future—fear of what may or may not happen for yourself, others or the planet. To become more present, and able to step out of negative thinking, one powerful method is to ‘come to your senses. To do this simply redirect your attention out of the thoughts in your head and bring your focus to your sense perceptions.

Ways to start learning how to love yourself when you don’t feel good enough:

  1. Stop people-pleasing and approval-seeking behaviours
  2. Stop judging current relationships based on past ones
  3. Visualize yourself as the person you want to be
  4. Stop inventing problems that don’t exist
  5. Crack open your soul and let the light in
  6. Awareness is the beginning of change
  7. Find like-minded and positive people
  8. De-clutter your physical possessions
  9. Stop waiting for perfection
  10. Use positive affirmations
  11. Read inspirational stories
  12. Change your view of fear
  13. Listen to the still small voice
  14. Distract yourself into happiness
  15. Realize you can’t predict the future
  16. Stop looking for perfect relationships
  17. Stop getting stuck in the comparison trap
  18. Learn how others started loving themselves
  19. Open up to someone you trust – let the light in
  20. Do one thing every day to work towards a dream
  21. Recognize the signs of self-hatred or shame in your life
  22. Don’t think of what can go wrong, but what can go right
  23. Be kinder and more constructive when you talk to yourself

Don’t try to incorporate all these tips into your life at once! It’s too much. Rather, pick just one of these tips and focus on it for the next 24 hours. See how it works for you. If you found it helpful, then try it for another 24 hours. If the tip doesn’t resonate with you, try something else on this list. Ruminating about mistakes made in the past often creates feelings of shame, guilt and negativity. Feelings of worthlessness may arise when you play over and over in your mind, ‘bad’ choices or ‘wrong’ actions you feel you have made.

There is nothing ‘negative’ per see about simply reflecting on past experiences. This is how we can learn, grow and mature as people. Negativity arises when you dwell on a situation repeatedly with no real intention to learn and grow–but instead, you are self-beating or wishing things were different instead of being accepting of things as they are.

You are affirming all the time by the way you think and talk. “Things never go my way” is a negative affirmation, for example. You could replace such a thought with a positive affirmation such as “things are working out perfectly”. Using positive affirmations helps you to make better choices and see things from a different and more positive perspective. Overthinking is something that can happen to anyone. But if you have a great system for dealing with it you can at least ward off some of the negative, anxious, stressful thinking and turn it into something useful, productive, and effective.

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.  Even if it seems perfect now, it won’t always be.  Imperfection, however, is real and beautiful.  The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations.  It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of their relationship that make it ideal.