How do you learn to love yourself?

(17 Posts)
newmumsuchfun Wed 11-Sep-13 10:39:24

I have been thinking a lot recently about this deep unhappiness I feel. I have no reason to feel unhappy and it is not depression, just a feeling of general unhappiness. I wake up every day and feel a 'guilt'.

I truly believe that my reason for unhappiness, guilt and all my issues are down to one thing - that I dislike myself. I have heard many a person say you need to love yourself. One friend said to me a year or so ago "I wish you loved yourself more". I don't know why I don't....

How can you learn to love yourself? and stop punishing yourself every single day?
Is it helping others?
Is it a particular hobby?
Is it in a book?

My actions would indicate that I hugely dislike myself deep deep down and I don't know why. What makes you feel joy?

I am not religious and not open to it - I am posting here more on the Spiritualism/ philosophy side.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 11-Sep-13 11:40:55

I don't think anyone can really answer this for you without knowing a lot more about you and your background - the best we can do is share what worked for us. Why are you so sure it is not depression? It takes many forms, and if you haven't already may be worth discussing with a hcp. If you don't know why you feel as you do would you consider counselling to try to understand where it comes from?

There are endless books outlining was to love yourself more, but all the ones I've ever read have been quite formulaic and don't really address the underlying issues. Some stuff definitely helps - positive affirmations, mindfulness, taking pleasure in the small things, but they will only go so far unless you are prepared to look at why you are as you are.

The things that work for me are meditation and mindful living, which really means focusing on the detail of the moment so there is no room for worry about the future or guilt about the past. And yoga - it balances you physically and emotionally, so goes far beyond the benefits of just exercise. If you are prepared to embrace the spiritual aspects of it you can come to an awareness that all living things are connected, that we are all the same and of the same - this can really help you to feel like you deserve your little space in the world as much as anyone. You learn that you are as deserving of love and kindness as anyone else.

Hope that helps a little.

newmumsuchfun Wed 11-Sep-13 12:02:38

Thanks. The reason I don't think it is depression is I function fine, I have no desire to not live or to harm myself. I know myself pretty well - I have been like this my entire life - no matter if I have been through good times or bad. How I would describe it is my brain is hyperactive and never just shuts up. I overthink, overanalyse, I am constantly thinking about every minute tiny detail of my entire existence. I can't seem to find inner calm.
Calm, to feel just... happy, in the moment.
I would like counselling but am concerned about the cost of it.
I have never tried yoga or meditation. Meditation seems like the most unlikely thing I could ever do ... because I am pretty sure i will have to stop thinking/worrying... and that never happens.
I do wonder why it is that some people just love themselves and other people almost... sabotage their happiness. It's like I feel I don't deserve real happiness sometimes - but have no clue why.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 11-Sep-13 14:57:22

I still wouldn't rule depression out - mine manifested as anxiety and if anything I became very hyper. You may be able to get a referral to a counsellor through your gp, though I know this varies massively depending on where you are. I was very lucky in that my employer paid. It may be worth investigating - even if you have to pay (if you can) it would be a worthwhile investment in you. I would have said a while ago, like you, that I have always been the same way. I also over-analyse everything, am very self-critical, always think I've done something wrong, never think i'm good enough, don't deserve to be happy. I discovered through counselling that this was learnt behaviour, not just how I am, and I learnt that I could unlearn this behaviour too (through cbt - not a cure-all, but it helped).

I hope you give yoga a go. If you can find a decent class you will normally have a long period of relaxation and meditation at the end of the session. The whole point of yoga is to prepare yourself for meditation. The physical practice balances your body and works out any aches and pains so that you won't be distracted by those. The mental focus and breathing it requires quiets the mind so that you are in a good place to relax. You are often guided through the relaxation by the teacher, so there is something to focus on. I really think it would be a good way to start.

Have a read about mindfulness as well - there are a few threads about it on here. Many people find it is very effective for combatting the over analytical tendencies you describe. I would recommend this book if you want to try something on your own:

www.amazon.co.uk/Mindful-Way-Through-Depression-Unhappiness/dp/1593851286/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378907061&sr=1-8&keywords=mindfulness

Sorry for the messy link, and don't be put off by it having depression in the title!

newmumsuchfun Wed 11-Sep-13 15:53:20

thank you so much - you are very kind and i will have a good think at all you have said. it would be a pity to not try anything and i could be living life in a much easier way. everyday feels so bloody hard. thanks for all your help.

Hi newmum a friend recommended this Mindfulness book which I've started reading - and it is good for helping to calm a hyper mind.

here

If you are interested, I've started a thread on the mental health section to work through this from the beginning with several other mums, you're very welcome to join..

All the best.

Dackyduddles Wed 11-Sep-13 21:03:00

Why are you picking yourself apart? Do you think others better? That you are lacking?

Those that 'love' themselves just realise a few basics; that they are human and fallible. That they have the same moods needs wants as others. That their needs are as important as others needs. That sometimes you have to suit yourself before others. The oxygen analogy I'd good. If on a plane and it loses pressure you have to sort your own oxygen out before dcs. Otherwise you pass out and cannot help at all.

I bet you are normal. I bet most people would say 'x? Yeah she's alright.' And you know what? That's fine. We ain't all beyonce. Even she has bad days, she's just human.

Dackyduddles Wed 11-Sep-13 21:42:25

Also happy is transient. Its supposed to be short.

Perhaps what you are looking for is contentment?

IndigoBarbie Wed 11-Sep-13 22:01:31

When you say that you over analyse etc, I wonder who your role model was in your life that perhaps taught you that this was a correct behaviour? Or, by not taking such actions-(and I realise that these are often not seen as choices, but as just the way perhaps 'we' are), what would be the difference in your life of NOT creating this behaviour/reaction pattern........
To me, my over analysis is a need to get to the truth or bottom of everything. I need to know. I wonder if the deep longing or guilt is something that even though you cannot perhaps put into words-your body reactions senses and emotions may help you identify the root cause of your seeming unhappiness.
To wake up in the morning and feel guilt suggests that you don't feel worthy of something.....or, that you are thinking and acting in a way that might be a conditioned behaviour-to satisfy those around you, and by your feeling the feelings of guilt/not in the moment, it's making it worse for you as you think you should be happy with your lot.
I'd suggest listening and feeling how your body reacts in certain situations during the day. Do you get the heart sinking feeling? Do you get butterflies, etc etc xxx with much love

I wonder what you feel guilty about? If you can work that out you can find a way ahead maybe. I do think counselling would help and I too would not rule out depression. Counselling might be free from your GP surgery, if you have depression or any type of mental health issue, which lots and lots of people have from time to time (including me, many different times in life) then counselling can help. There are all different types.

I had CBT Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for Anxiety years ago and it made a huge huge difference.

If not for religious reasons then one could say we are great because of the amazing way our bodies work, our minds, brains, hearts etc. We are truly sensational and we have the capacity for such joy and sorrow, for such good things in our lives and bad. I would choose to find those things around you that are truly beautiful, rewarding and meaningful. By this I mean find out what makes you tick, what you enjoy, and pursue it. In terms of hobbies, job, etc. This may be hard, you may be struggling in a job you don't like but need to do to pay the bills, or you may be busy bringing up small children. Lots of people feel stresses and stains and many things are not under their control. So it is necessary to find those things that can be under our control and choose the good options where we can - healthy food, nice days out or activiities that enhance life, even conversatios and friends that make us feel good about life.

As a Christian, I would also say that learning to love yourself is about finding your place in the world as a child of God, and learning to love others as you love yourself. Sometimes that loving yourself comes first but it might be that through loving others you find a love for yourself.

I know you are not religious and not open to it but I cannot really answer your post without refering to my faith (apologies in advance - switch off now if you wish!) ... I would say as a Christian that I believe God loves us so much and that is one reason to rejoice in how great and loved we are.

I do hope you will find the joy in life and learn to love and appreciate yourself.

Oh the other thing is to treat yourself like a treasured friend, treat yourself like you love yourself, choose the best things you can afford, do not allow people to walk all over you (not saying you do, but if you do!) and just treat yourself with all the love you can summon up, and treat others that way and I think you will find your own love for yourself will grow. Now you may say you do that already, in which case do you feel that love, is it there but hidden? I am quite a fan of positive speak. It sounds corny but tell youself often how great you are, how special. You are wise (you express yourself well), you are worth finding answers for ( you are on here looking for answers) etc etc.

newmumsuchfun Thu 12-Sep-13 08:34:44

thanks for all the responses. No Italiangreyhound - I don't treat myself with love. I am very loving / kind to everyone in my life but not myself thinking about it.

I am trying to figure out what makes me feel guilty. How long have you got?

I wake up every morning feeling guilty because I am not fulfilling my potential. I know I could be doing great things but I have little energy for things and hardly any will power - which makes me feel wretched.

I feel I should be less of a burden on my parents financially and emotionally.

I feel my body isn't how it should be - I am not making the most of my healthy able, body.

I then feel guilty at being so self obsessed as there are people in the world with nothing or who have disabilities or have been through Hell - and here is me feeling sorry for myself.

My main problem is I only see myself through other people's eyes. My mum said even when I was very young if we were walking down the street I would say "Mummy, why are they looking at me?" self consciously. She's say because you're beautiful - I would think they must be looking for a bad reason. And I generally think everyone else dislikes me ... or looks down on my decisions - I can't just seem to forget the world and just be me... get on with it.

I have a nice life - I just wish I treated myself better, or thought I was good enough.

Really sounds like counselling could help you unpack. Some of us *me included) just are very sensitive. Are you a mum, could it be post natal depression?

I could say a million things but I think you need to find the answers for yourself. You are on the right track! Think about your past and your present but most of all your future, it is waiting for you to embrace it! You are valuable. Start treating yourself nicely and see if you notice a difference. And if you have felt this way for a long time prepare for some tough times as you learn to love you. (As a Christian I can't help saying I think an Alpha course is a wonderful thing and might give you spiritual food for thought!!!) http://www.alpha.org/

Have you been tested for aneamia?

There may be a medical reason whty you have less energy.

Keep posting and telling us your journey, if you wish to.

I know I am on a journey too, we all are and can all recognise the fact we could be doing better at life! But part of having joy in your life is being content, which is not making it a competition.

So turn it around....

I wake up every morning and get out of bed thinking 'What can I accomplish today (big or small) to make my life and other people's lives a bit sunnier?'

Your parents love you, and are supporting you, I feel sure they do love you because of stuff you wrote, so take time to thank them, share with them and enjoy them. If you can do things with them, enjoy it and let them know how much you appreciate them

Enjoy your healthy able body, you can start today.

We are all self obsessed to some degree, I think, or at least most of us, turn that around, what interests you? How can you enjoy your life and share it with others more? If it is befreinding a new mum at the toddler group, helping out for an hour at the school, doing something special for others and then feeling good about yourself for taking an interest. Find the ways, they are there!

ziggiestardust Thu 12-Sep-13 18:07:29

I'm sorry to hear you're feeling this way OP. I suffered with PND after my DS was born and really struggled to pick myself up. In a way though, now I'm through the other side; I think I've found I quite like myself.

I don't know why exactly. Maybe it was age, maybe it was time, I don't know. I just think I'm alright. You know? I've come through so much; got married, got a house, a promotion, a car, had a baby and raised him, gone back to work and paid off all my debt... Yes that's every day stuff, but I feel pretty good about it. And I'm allowed to!!

I'm nice to myself. I treat myself to things like clothes and haircuts when I can, I exercise when I can and have long baths all to myself with candles and books and stuff. I make the effort to see my friends for some wine and a chatter about nothing in particular. It all adds up and makes me feel pretty good, most of the time.

You will get there.

May I recommend another book? It's called The Compassionate Mind, by Paul Gilbert. It's related to Mindfulness but is more about learning to be compassionate to yourself (and others). It explains some of the reasons our minds behave the way they do, and shows why it's not our fault that we have destructive and unloving thoughts towards ourselves. It gives some suggested (mental) exercises to practise being compassionate to ourselves. I found it an absolute revelation, and fascinating to read. Good luck OP smile.

Quincejelly Mon 16-Sep-13 11:34:28

Perhaps try looking for Joseph Clough on Youtube. He´s obviously trying to build his business and sell his book (not that I blame him, but it means a lot of self-advertising which gets boring). But in doing that he´s put a lot of stuff on the net for free which I find useful.

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