The greatest struggle in life is the struggle to accept, embrace, and love ourselves, even with all of our imperfections. To be 100-percent honest about who we are, how we feel and what we need going forward. To stop discrediting ourselves for everything we aren’t, and start giving ourselves credit for everything we are. And to be aware that not everyone we love will agree with us every step of the way, and to be OK with it.
We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of others loving us, and we forget to love ourselves.
What we must realize is that our greatest task is not about discovering self-love, it’s about breaking down the walls we have built against it. When we have the courage to push through these walls — to know and embrace ourselves, despite our humanness, our flaws, and our rejections — we also open the door to connecting in more caring, empathic, and intimate ways with others who are truly worth loving.
Which is why it’s time to…
1. Start telling yourself what you love about yourself.
In your own life it’s important to know how spectacular you are. You really have to look in the mirror and be kind, because what we see in the mirror is often what we see in the world. Our disappointment in others often reflects our disappointment in ourselves. Our acceptance of others often reflects our acceptance of ourselves. Our ability to see potential in others often reflects our ability to see potential in ourselves. Our patience with others often reflects our patience with ourselves. You get the idea — you’ve got to show yourself some love first and foremost.
2. Start being one with what is.
Something that is really difficult, but totally worth it, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the journey of becoming your true self. The most beautiful part of this journey is simply returning to the peaceful feeling of being. This peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
3. Start focusing less on winning the approval of others.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing — and you don’t have to get permission to do it differently either. Your time on this planet is precious. As the saying goes, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” Don’t wait around for someone else to give you permission to live.
4. Start distancing yourself from those who bring you down.
Being in no relationship is better than being in a wrong one. Don’t worry too much about folks who don’t worry about you. Know your worth! When you give yourself to those who disrespect you, you lose. Your friends in life should motivate, inspire, and respect you. Your circle should be well-rounded and supportive. Keep it tight. Quality over quantity, always.
5. Start forgiving your past self.
When you confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with the light of your forgiveness, your willingness to wrestle with your demons in this way will cause your angels to sing. It’s just a matter of accepting that sometimes good people like you make bad choices. It doesn’t mean you’re bad; it means you’re human. Get bored with your past; it’s over. Forgive yourself for what you think you did or didn’t do, and focus on what you will do starting now.
6. Start making the changes you know you need to make.
Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. If you want to see changes in your life today, you’ll have to do things that you’ve never done before. Different input = different output. Move away from the things that drain you and move toward the thoughts and activities that empower and fulfill you.
7. Start embracing the mistakes you haven’t even made yet.
To be successful in the long run, you must fail sometimes. So don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all. And don’t let not knowing how it’ll end keep you from beginning. When we act, uncertainty chases us out into the open where opportunity awaits.
Marc and Angel Chernoff are professional life coaches who enjoy sharing inspirational advice and practical tips for life on their popular personal development blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. Their first book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently, is a collection of tips and reflections on the little things that make a huge difference in our daily lives. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.