Why loving ourselves can be so hard sometimes

Most people are their own worst critics. Whether looking in the mirror or judging how they are being with others, it is common that people give themselves a really hard time. So, at those times, how do we stop the internal negative voice and begin to love ourselves properly?

It all starts with you. Learning to nourish yourself and love everything about a journey. It’s understanding that it is not an overnight solution, but rather the ability to negotiate with key moments of your day.

Nourishing yourself involves making a practice of loving every aspect of yourself. This is about embracing all of your inner worlds, too. This includes those parts of you that are responsible for some of your greatest challenges.

All too often people have aspects of themselves that self-sabotage. Those parts are experts at pushing away opportunities to learn new, positive habits that could revolutionise our lives and give us the energy to enjoy more health and happiness. And so it can be tempting to attack these parts of our minds that cause so much trouble that can also be responsible for so much self-loathing.

Your character is not your weakness

These underpinning characteristics are not our weakness and attacking them only makes things worse.

Somewhere in the middle of their motivation to cause harm, they are really only acting to keep you safe. Understanding this is the first step to being able to negotiate with these parts, to get them to stop sabotaging and start allowing you to enjoy more success and happiness in your life.

It is about negotiating with yourself so that every part of you comes into a new set of agreements about what real protection is and how to live differently.

For example, some people claim they want to be in a relationship but they only seem to be interested in people that are wholly unavailable. One reason for this might be that they are actually afraid of being hurt, so an internal part of them is protecting them and sabotaging their dating process.

With awareness, kindness and understanding that part that is protecting them can be negotiated with so that they stop sabotaging and start living and loving their lives to the full.

Sometimes we can happen upon an aspect of ourselves that seems absolutely dead set against us, that wants to pull everything down and ruin all hope. That part more than anything needs your love, not your hatred. It will simply be trying to hold you responsible for everything that went wrong in your past. It will be protecting you from painful thoughts and feelings that you once couldn’t bear to be conscious of.

True transformation comes from realising on a deep level what truly serves you. This is not a chore, a duty or a loss. It is a gift of love. From there, there is no more struggle or effort required.

Then it no longer involves any will power.

Will power is when one part of you wants one thing and another wants something else and you go to war against an aspect of yourself. This is about ending the war within.

The art of the negotiation

Loving yourself is an ongoing negotiation that involves taking a step back and learning to make a truly self-loving choice.

It is the ability to overcome difficult moments at work, or a painful encounter with a long-lost friend or loved one that would normally leave you demoralised. It is about developing the ability to perhaps go to the gym or possibly it is about not eating something you know you will regret later.

It is about bit by bit making more wise choices throughout your day. It is the realisation that you are worth more than the challenge you are facing. Sometimes, negotiating with yourself can involve a few rounds of internal discussion. Some things will shift easily whilst other things might take a long time to improve.

To have a go at this, try the following negotiation exercise. Once you become familiar with this exercise, it is possible to do very rapid negotiations with yourself. Let’s begin.

How to negotiate with yourself (and win)

Close your eyes, relax your breathing, become still and then invite this part of yourself to come into your awareness. This could be a part of you responsible for smoking, overshopping, overeating, never stopping, angry outbursts or never going to the gym.

You may see this part in your imagination or you might just sense that you are talking to yourself on some deeper level. Either way is fine. You then, first of all, thank this part for everything it is doing to help you. You let it feel that you have faith that it is trying to help you. Do your best to feel sincere gratitude for this part.

Then let it know that you are not here to force it to change. You are here simply to invite it to think and feel differently about this behaviour or habit. There is a more loving way of living and loving yourself and you are here to give this part a chance to find even more beautiful ways of loving you.

Give it time. See what it needs to feel differently. Start small. Don’t force change. Simply let kindness and wisdom lead the way.