10 reasons why self-love is so hard (and what to do about it)
Self-love doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Even though it’s something we all have the capacity to do, some of us find self-love harder than others!
This was my story for a long time, so I know first-hand how hard it can be…
…And what to do about it!
Here are 10 of the most common reasons self-love can feel so hard, and what I did (and you can do!) to shift self-hate to self-love.
1) You don’t understand self-love
Now, one of the reasons you find self-love hard might be because you simply don’t understand it.
Before we go any further, I want you to think about what self-love means to you…
…For a long time, I thought it was something incredibly indulgent that was only for people who had ‘the time’.
You see, I didn’t understand that self-love isn’t something you add on to your day, but something that you carry through your day with you.
It’s not about blocking out an hour to have a bath (although it is definitely a form of loving and caring for yourself!), but rather it starts the moment you wake up.
In other words, it begins with how you speak to yourself:
Self-love is saying kind things about yourself
Self-love is praising yourself for all that you do
Self-love is affirming that you’re worthy
We have thousands of thoughts a day and not all of these will be positive… But you can begin to bring in more self-love by canceling out some of the negativity with positive affirmations.
As you make mindful, supportive decisions for yourself and your long-term wellbeing, you show yourself love.
2) You’re too much of a ‘perfectionist’
Being a perfectionist is something that’s celebrated in some contexts, such as work…
…But it’s no good being a perfectionist when it comes to yourself.
You’re not a project, and ‘perfectionism’ doesn’t exist.
I spent so many years feeling like I needed to be skinnier, smarter, funnier, better dressed (and the rest!), in order to be accepted and loved.
I thought I needed to be perfect – by society’s standards – in order to feel like I could be loved.
In other words, I believed I wasn’t worthy of love until I was a certain way.
For years, I withheld love for myself because I didn’t believe I deserved it… I thought I needed to be different before I could love myself.
And then I wondered why I felt so bad, and why my romantic relationships weren’t working out!
It was only when I watched shaman Rudá Iandê’s free video on the art of love and intimacy that I realized I needed to start loving myself if I wanted to feel balanced and whole…
…And if I wanted a relationship with anyone else!
Watching his masterclass pushed me to reconsider what my relationship with myself really looked like, and it made me learn the importance of self-love.
Afterwards, I dropped the need to be perfect and I came away knowing that I can love myself just as I am.
3) You have a negativity bias
As I say, we have thousands of thoughts a day and it’s unrealistic to think that all of them will be happy ones.
But some people have more of a negativity bias than others!
This might be a reason that you find self-love so hard.
You see, past failures and shame can really plague us and make us feel like we’re not worthy of love.
Truth is, we can fixate on all of the things we’ve ever done wrong and ruminate for the rest of our lives…
…Or we can accept that we’re human and that mistakes happen, and send ourselves the love we deserve.
For many years, I would often think back to the decisions I made in my late teens and think about how stupid I am.
I would berate myself for the fact I partied too much, didn’t study enough and messed around with different guys.
Simply put, I carried around a lot of shame and embarrassment about my decisions for many years.
And I spoke to myself so negatively.
This only changed when I consciously decided to draw a line under the thoughts I was having, and I chose to accept what I cannot change…
…And to send love to that version of me, plus the current version of me.
4) You think self-love is selfish
This is one of the biggest misconceptions around self-love ever.
It literally couldn’t be further from the truth!
Self-love is entirely self-less not self-fish.
Let me tell you why:
Loving yourself does not hurt anyone else or take anything away from others…
…All it does is supercharge how you feel about yourself, and it makes you a better person to be around.
Sending yourself love makes you a better friend, partner and colleague.
In other words, people who love themselves move around the world differently and they’re nice to be around!
After I dropped the narrative that self-love was selfish, and I allowed myself to give myself what I needed, people started to comment on how my ‘vibe’ had changed.
And the comments were positive!
People remarked on how I was glowing and how I seemed happier – and they wanted to know what had changed.
As you do the same, you’ll find that you inspire others around you to do the same.
5) Your self-love is based on what others think of you
There’s a chance you find self-love hard because how you feel about yourself is based on what you think others think of you.
Now, if this is the case, don’t feel bad…
…There are many reasons why this could be the case.
Growing up in a household where love was withheld
You were mistreated in a romantic relationship
Someone has said something horrible to you
As we go through life, we’re faced with situations that are less than pretty – and they can affect us more than we realize.
One way negative situations can affect us is by damaging our sense of self-worth.
We can be left feeling like we’re not worthy of things, including love.
Simply put, we can feel as though we don’t deserve love in any form – including love from ourselves.
If you’re at this place right now, know that this doesn’t have to be your narrative going forward!
It was mine for a long time, but I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to try and take lessons from what had happened in my life…
…And not allow it to take my ability to love myself away from me.
6) You’re not fully accepting yourself
Be honest with yourself: do you accept yourself for the person you are right now?
As in, are you happy with who you are right now? Do you like yourself?
If your answer isn’t a ‘hell yes’ to these questions, you need to put the work in to change how you feel about yourself.
You see, accepting yourself exactly as you are is at the crux of self-love.
It’s necessary that you are fully on-board with who you are and what you’re about.
So how do you bring more acceptance in?
Affirmations are a great source for reinforcing how you feel about yourself.
There are a few that I love to return to, including:
I accept myself for who I am
I accept myself for where I’m at in my place
I accept my decisions
I choose to love myself
Believe me, it will change your life if you get into a habit of working with affirmations on a daily basis.
There are numerous ways you can introduce affirmations into your day-to-day life.
Set them as your phone background
Set reminders on your phone so they pop up in the day
Jot them down on paper and keep them beside your bed
Write them on your mirror
There’s no right or wrong way to get affirmations into your day!
Think of affirmations as just as crucial as vitamins.
7) You haven’t put the work in
Shifting from a lifetime of being less than loving to yourself to one of pure self-love isn’t going to happen overnight…
…It’s not even going to happen in a week or a month.
It could take a few months or longer.
How long the process takes depends on the work you put into shifting from self-hate to self-love.
It takes daily commitment to change a habit.
For instance, I used to wake up and start telling myself that I was lazy and a good-for-nothing because I didn’t spring up out of bed.
I started berating myself literally the second I opened my eyes; the sad thing was that this was so normal for me.
Changing it wasn’t easy as it was such a part of how I lived each day.
After realizing the damage I was doing and becoming conscious of the fact I needed to change how I spoke to myself, I first started to recognize the thoughts.
Simply put, I observed them.
Overriding them wasn’t easy at first, but I tried.
As my mind drifted to thoughts such as ‘you’re a slob, look at you’, I said ‘you’re fine just as you are’ to myself.
I started with small affirmations that I was doing okay for starters, and worked my way up to enforcing that I was great.
After a month or so of consciously recognizing my thoughts, I would wake up and think ‘you’re awesome, go and seize the day!’
8) You’re in the comparison loop
Comparison is a toxic loop.
There is literally nothing good that comes from comparing yourself to another human being.
It just keeps us in low places, where we feel as though we’re not good enough and worthy of being loved.
When we compare ourselves, we judge ourselves against others.
But we are all so different, so comparing yourself to someone else is just useless.
All this does is cause pain, turmoil and frustration.
Comparison is simply wasted energy, which could be directed to more positive things in life…
…Such as thinking about how great you are as an individual, and how you have so much to offer the world.
What’s more, we have no idea what another person is going through and we have no idea what their full life history looks like.
In other words, we don’t have a total picture of their lives.
While it might look like someone has ‘everything’ we want from the outside, we don’t know their real story!
If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap – whether on social media or in your social circle – pull back to protect your wellbeing.
9) You’re clinging on to a false idea of yourself
Society loves to label us and put us in boxes.
Maybe your parents, teachers or people around you told you who and what you should be from a young age…
…And perhaps you’ve held that up on a pedestal all of your life.
You might have thought that you’ve needed to be:
A certain weight
In a relationship
If you don’t have the things that other people expected of you then perhaps you don’t believe you’re worthy of love.
What’s more, have you ever thought that all of these labels might keep you from being in your true power and honoring yourself?
You see, when we don’t honor what it is that we truly desire, we do a disservice to ourselves…
…And we tell ourselves that we’re not worthy of the things we really want.
This includes self-love.
In order to move past this, you need to be real about the things that other people want you to be vs. what you actually want to be.
As you honor yourself, you’ll signal that you are worthy of all that you want.
10) Your habits don’t reflect self-love
One reason you could be finding it hard to love yourself could be because your habits don’t reflect self-love.
Simply put: the way you treat yourself isn’t with love.
Being brutally honest, I spent years wishing that I could have self-love while my habits and behaviors were causing me turmoil.
I didn’t nourish my body properly and restricted the foods I ate; I smoked cigarettes and binge-drank alcohol; I filled my mind with rubbish…
…I spent my free time watching mind-numbing television shows and I just felt so flat.
Everything I was doing made me feel bad about myself.
I ended each day feeling rubbish and frustrated with myself for my actions.
This cycle went on for years!
It was only when I consciously started to take note of the things I was doing – and to bring mindfulness to my behaviors – when things started to change.
Looking at your habits requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.
But remember that the uncomfortable is where the good stuff happens!
Love yourself first and everything else falls into place. It may sound conceited or narcissistic to focus on loving yourself first. But it’s not. The point isn’t to believe you’re better than others or to accept things about yourself that you really do need to change.It’s about developing a healthy and nurturing relationship with… you! Loving yourself is about committing to who you are, understanding the many different nuances to your identity, and showing yourself a level of care and intimacy that we usually reserve for others. Make loving yourself each day a priority, it's not selfish, it's healthy.