So often you will hear people say things like “That’s just who I am; I’m not pessimistic, I’m just a realist; I could never do that; That could never happen for me; I just don’t have the motivation; I’m not strong enough, good enough, smart enough…” They are quick to give reasons (excuses) why they can’t achieve their goals and they feel that no matter what they do, things can’t possibly change – it’s just the way it is. They are often sad, struggle with energy, turn to poor eating habits or other coping mechanisms in their search for happiness and generally struggle in life. Can you think of someone like that or does that sound a little like you? Keep reading.
It is no secret that I come from a long history of depression, self-doubt, low self-esteem, negative self-talk and fear. I was that person I just described above. I was once miserable and felt destined to failure. I remember looking for happiness from every direction (except myself), to no avail. So how does someone like myself go from a place of darkness to training others on the importance of personal development just two years later? How does someone come from a place where they are certain the world is better without them to a place where they are so excited about changing the world they can hardly sleep? They discover self-love.
So what is self love anyway? Self-love is a combination of many things – things like confidence, happiness, peace with your body, optimism, and positive self-talk but I like to describe it like this:
Operating in self-love means living a life free of self-induced condemnation and limitations.
Woah! Can you imagine living your life in a way that you no longer feel paralyzed from fear of rejection or failure? A life where you were your biggest cheerleader instead of your biggest critic? Well, I have some good news! With self-love you CAN! But, it’s going to take some hard work and I’m going to show you how to get started.
The journey to self love isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes dedication, consistency and you must have the desire to truly want to change. That doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days and you won’t quit 1,000 times – but the important thing is that you keep getting back up and you start again. Here are 5 steps to getting you started on the journey to self-love:
- Surround Yourself with Positivity : When I say surround, I mean surround. Start your day with a devotional or uplifting message. Focus on gratitude and what you are thankful for, BEFORE you start your day. Post uplifting messages on social media – keep the negative ones offline. Post images and messages you would want to portray – even if they conflict with your current thought process. Ever hear the phrase “fake it until you make it?” This would be a great time to implement that. Act positive, even when you’re not there yet.
- Separate Yourself from Negativity : If the group of people you sit with for lunch everyday are focused on complaining about work, their lives and gossiping about others, it might be time to find a new table. If you are spending most of your time with someone who is as depressed as you are and enjoys commiserating with you, it’s time to put some distance between you. This doesn’t mean leaving your friends behind, but it does mean separating yourself when their current attitude and focus contradicts the positive person you are trying to become. They say you become like the top 5 people you hang around – if those people are miserable, guess what? Yup, you will be too.
- Create New Habits : The only way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. The only way to create new habits is to do something that aligns with the person you want to become consistently, before you feel like it. At first it will feel awkward and uncomfortable, that’s because it’s a conflict of your current identity and lack of self belief, but overtime it will feel more normal as the action will transition from something you are simply making yourself do to a new, established habit. There are programs that can help you do this, I personally love the Healthy, Mind and Body program offered with the company I work with.
- Continual Personal Development : This journey is about constantly evolving. It’s imperative that you are open to growth and learning in order to change your mindset and the perspective you’ve always had. This means reading books, listening to podcasts, watching videos. And then watching them again. Ever notice how there are millions of leadership books and weight loss books out there? How is it possible there can be so many? It’s because every author offers a different perspective based on their experience and education. Ever wonder how you can leave church every week and learn something new even though the source of information doesn’t change? It’s because as time progresses, your journey changes – and what you are able to learn and apply will change. Never stop learning. Ever.
- Ask for Help : This one is important. You are going to need a support system. The key, however, is choosing the right support system. You want to find those who can support you as a mentor and as someone who is further ahead of you on the journey. You aren’t looking for someone to simply stand by your side and listen to you vent and commiserate with you. You aren’t looking for someone who simply listens but offers no guidance. You need someone who is compassionate, yet willing to tell you the truth when you need it the most.
This is what I’ve done over the past 2 years and while I can honestly tell you that the person I am today is nothing like the person I was before – I can promise you that the person I am today is nothing like the person I’m going to be. Chin up, friends – if you’re struggling there is hope, you just have to go after it.