Remember JLo’s mother-in-law from the movie Monster-in-Law? No matter how hard she tried to win her heart, she always nagged and showered her with critique. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against in-laws, but I think this is a helpful picture of what our inner critic looks like. It keeps pulling us down, dragging us into the darkest of pits until we lose the last shred of faith and self-confidence in ourselves.
But what makes our inner critic so unpleasant? There has to be some theory that explains why we listen to it so often and give up doing things we want to without even trying. Are we afraid that the results won’t be as we imagined? The truth is, the reason we doubt our capabilities is because we utilize our energy on the wrong things. We waste our time on people and things that, quite frankly, add nothing good to our lives and just drain our energy.
Think about this for a minute. What good does viewing someone else’s happy honeymoon pictures bring to anyone? Instead of rejoicing over their joy and happiness, we instead compare it with the boring and stagnant life we have. And to just prove that our life isn’t boring or stuck in a rut, we post something superficial too. We fake plastered-on smiles. We pose proudly in our sickly sweet and macho personality fronts. We pout and feign surprised expressions. We show off and we prance about to show how good our life is—when it really isn’t—just for the sake of some validation or envy. We basically start a chain of who-looks-better-than-who without even knowing. Then, others who see our posts join in and it goes on and on until everyone has proved that their life is the most happening. But to whom have we proven this point? Who are we so keen on impressing? Who are we trying to impress? An ex? An ex’s new girlfriend? Our friends from high school? Why does it matter so much to us? When did social media become so influential in the first place, and why did we let it happen?
I’ll tell you why. We stopped loving ourselves and started thinking we aren’t good enough. We let this idea consume the wholesome us, and it has hidden who we truly are. But what is the true self? Dictionaries refer to it as one’s authentic, real, or original self. It is supposedly the most honest aspect that makes one who they are. It is that deepest layer of you after you have laid off all the others—the pretentious, the made-up, and the concocted masks that obscure and hide the true us. Our true self is when we are our most vulnerable, raw, open, and carefree. How many times in the past week can you say that you felt that way?
Not many, right? This is why we need to find our true self and start loving it. It may seem like quite a self-centered goal, but in reality, it is anything but selfish. We have to know who we are so that we can be better and more valuable to others. We can’t be a better partner, lover, parent, or friend if we don’t know what we are made of, what things we value, and what we have to offer. Think of it as a process of discovering where you break down and shed layers that serve no purpose. It entails an incredible act of building up and realizing what we want from life, what passions we want to follow, and what is our one true destiny. It encompasses being open to accepting change and at the same time being a staunch believer in our personal powers. It is about giving up fear and seeking new things with curiosity and compassion.
So how do we get there?
The start of self-discovery and self-love requires action, but the end requires something harder, deeper, and something that you never probably realized before.
1. Let Go Of The Things Holding You Back
Whatever doesn’t serve you or add value or meaning to your life in some form has to go. If you keep clinging onto those things, they will get you nowhere. When we allow ourselves to diminish and remain small, we serve no one–not even ourselves. We lose our internal light and keep fighting battles that have been long lost. So, the first step to self-love is to not hold grudges and release yourself from excessive burdens.
2. Make Time For Things That Truly Matter
You have to know what things are worth your time and what aren’t. You will need to reevaluate your behaviors and patterns and focus on goals that are fulfilling. You have to start prioritizing things that offer future comfort rather than instant gratification. It isn’t just about getting a like or a pat on the back. It involves choosing the right things to care about and spending time on things that make you happier—just you and no one else.
3. Maintain Some Distance
The next step includes less engagement from people who lack mental maturity and also those who don’t have any intention of engaging in civil discourse with you. This distancing is imperative for two reasons. First, it frees you from fighting fights that always end with you as the losing side. Second, it takes you away from people who really wish to connect with you with all their heart and soul, who want nothing but the best for you.
4. Don’t Try So Hard
Stop trying to force others to like you because doing so usually backfires. You don’t have to convince others of how good, talented, or beautiful you are. If you constantly crave validation from others, you will never find yourself worthy of love, joy, and happiness. You have to let go of the idea of perfection, because no one has gotten to that point.
5. Have Fewer Expectations From Yourself and Others
Unrealistic expectations, whether they’re from ourselves or others, wreck us because they lead us to a path with no destination. They make us work hard for things that are out of our reach anyways, and while on the journey, we can lose many valuable things. Some we trade for better things and others we simply lose. So don’t expect to be perfect. Instead, aim for happiness and contentment.
6. Outgrow Those Who Think We Are Replaceable
If you are with someone who doesn’t appreciate all that you do, outgrow them. They are the ones who drain our energy. They are the ones who aren’t genuine, because they say things they don’t mean. They are those who just say things, but when it comes to actually joining hands, they step back. They can’t walk the walk when you need them to. They want us to keep wearing a mask all the time because they run and hide when you show them the real you. They rarely care about what you want because they are too focused on their own. Clearly, they aren’t worth our time and effort, and the sooner we realize that, the better!
7. Appreciate More
Be it nature, the kiss from a loved one, or the smile from a stranger, appreciate it. Appreciate the calmness of the seas, the night full of stars, the denseness of the forests, the brightest of the sun, the first raindrop on the ground, the filled tummy, and every other thing that makes your heart skip a beat. After all, that is what life is all about. These moments remind us why we are on Earth.
In the words of Diane Von Furstenberg, “You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” I think this should serve as your motto for life from now on.