Ditching the Quest for Self-Love

May 18, 2021

Confession: Every time I use the phrase “self-love” whether it’s in a session with a client, or a conversation with a friend, I feel a little inauthentic. Not as if I’m lying, but more like I’m trying to sell something that I can’t completely get behind, like pickle-flavored potato chips, or sweaters for dogs.

Do I love myself?  Sure.  I think so.  Well, sometimes.  Oprah (who also exists as a voice in my head) asks me, “What do you know to be TRUE?”.  

Okay, O., this is what I know to be true:

I VALUE myself, all of the time. I haven’t always. But I do now. My 40s triggered the awakening of a deep knowing of my inherent value.  My inner voice is no longer a whisper I question when it goes against the grain, but rather a compass I trust wholeheartedly to guide me. I know now, more than ever that there is a place for me in my community, the world, and in the hearts of my family and friends, even with all my complexities, imperfections, and scars.  To put it simply, I know why I’m here.

To me, this feels distinctly different than “love”.  It’s more consistent and sustainable.  I value myself even when I mess up, yell at my kids, fall short of my expectations, and eat the donut(s). Whereas, I feel miles away from self-love in these moments.   

This knowing of my value stirs inside me as if it’s growing something, like it’s generating more and more self-trust, forward-motion and purpose every day.

So, let’s suspend the quest for self-love for a moment, and explore the path of valuing yourself.  Here are a few steps in the process.

1.) Keep your cups full.

In order to truly value something, you must care for it.  Authentic self-care involves doing the soul nurturing activities/behaviors/rituals you love to do, consistently and unapologetically. Think of these activities as falling into categories (cups), and part of valuing yourself is keeping your cups full. Examples may include a spirituality cup, a nature cup, or a creativity cup. For me, if my creativity cup is empty, I feel off-balance, antsy and unsatisfied, which leads to frustration with myself and my life. When your cups are full, the “have to’s” of life are more manageable and enjoyable.

Value yourself through engaging in what nourishes your soul. Take time to fill your cups.

 2.) Stop trying to convince others of your value.

It’s easy to lose yourself in trying to get someone to value you. Fighting to be seen and heard in relationships is not empowering.  It’s exhausting. The people who are meant to be on your journey with you will not need to be convinced of your greatness. Instead, shift that energy to filling your cups, nurturing your unique strengths, authentically expressing your needs to your loved ones, and uncovering buried self-worth. 

Value yourself through letting go of trying to control how others see you.

3.) Write your own script.

There are so many ways to live life. There are as many different ways to live life as there are people on the planet.  The key is to create your journey step by step without comparing it to other people’s.  Comparison breeds self-criticism, and self-criticism drowns out your authentic inner voice that is your compass for the journey. You are the writer, director and star of the hit play that is your life. Start writing, and don’t hand anyone else the pen!

Value yourself through practicing self-trust.

In a world where we’re trained to compare and compete, the work of valuing ourselves is both radical and vital.  When we value our innate selves, we start to trust not only ourselves but the universe. This trust leads us to the people and opportunities that will bring the most personal fulfillment.   

Relax into the laz-y-boy comfort of valuing yourself, the most empowering, non-exhausting journey you’ll ever take.

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