How can self-love act as an antidote for those moments when we have feelings of not good enough, not pretty enough, not competent enough and the list of not enough's can go on and on.
Well let's start with why we feel not enough in the first place.
Our feeling of not enough is hugely affected by societal expectations. The society we live in often dictates what is considered acceptable or not, and don’t get me started on who makes up these standards and the factors that influence them because we truly can be here all day.
The point is that to a large extent society dictates what to do or not. The sad note though is that these standards do not take into considerations our individual values, diversity or circumstances. Live by it and you’ll be accepted, deviate from it, and you’ll be shamed excluded and isolated.
Here’s an example of how society can create feelings of not enough; I’m both Nigerian and British. Back home in Nigeria, the regular Nigerian guy likes some flesh on his lady! He likes those hips well rounded. He likes to feel cushioned if he happens to rest his head on her bosom.
Forget the bingo wings; he likes to have some flesh to grab on to when he puts his arms around his woman. Hook, line and sinker, he likes his woman with some weight on.
Now this is not just some random desire, it has some history.
In some traditions in Nigeria, not too long ago, before a woman is due to be married, she is given a special accommodation where she is pampered and fed. This is traditionally known as a “fattening room”. She typically lives here for some weeks before her wedding day.
In this accommodation, she is not allowed to want for anything and she is fed the best delicacies. The primary idea behind this pampering period is for her to put on weight and look “beautiful”.
Now I bet you’re reading this and thinking what the hell!! Why? Because the idea of putting on weight in the western world is something most women dread. If in doubt, check out the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry.
As a matter of fact, most women (and some men) in the western world, aim to lose some pounds before her wedding. In the Nigerian culture to a large extent women are expected to put on some weight and not be “too slim”. In the western culture it’s all about weight loss and how to put off the weight.
So imagine you live in one of these cultures and you do not meet the expectation. You can see how not meeting societal expectations can begin to fuel feelings of not enough. And this is just one example of how societal expectations can fuel feelings of not enough.
The Comparison Thief
Another fuel for feelings of not enough is the comparison thief. That feeling that we don’t measure up. You were grateful for what you had until you realised your colleague has more. And she doesn't just have more, she has better.
Now all of a sudden the satisfaction with your little turns into scarcity and with scarcity comes the feeling of not enough.
Comparison always steals our joy of the present moment. When we compare ourselves to other people's ideals, we immediately put ourselves into a state of scarcity. We subject whatever the object of our comparison is to a state of not enough.
Whether it's our marriages, relationships, employment, possessions or children. We make a statement that what we have is not enough.
Another experience that leaves us with feelings of not enough are unmet or unfulfilled expectations. We have a set target we aim to achieve and when this is not met, we feel empty and you know not ____ enough.
We convince ourselves of all the reasons why we should have achieved our goal; however, are we reality checking these expectations though. Are we taking into consideration the road blocks we have encountered, the challenges etc Or have we set our sights on a particular destination and haven't considered there would be stops and detours on our path.
When we measure ourselves based on set targets without taking into account other factors, we are bound to experience unfulfilled expectations which trigger feelings of not enough.
So is there really such a thing as self-love or is this another form of selfishness all wrapped in a pretty scarf and hat. And if there is such a thing as self-love what is it? And how is it an antidote for feelings of not enough?
What is Self-love?
Regard for one's own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic) - Oxford Dictionaries.
How does self-love help us combat feelings of not enough? Here are 3 self-love exercises you can incorporate into your routine.
1. Claim Your Worth
Worthiness is the quality of being good enough. The question is, good enough by whose standard. The answer = yours. There are no qualifiers for worthiness. Understand that the simple fact that you are alive and here qualifies your worthiness.
No ifs, no buts. You are worthy simply because you exist. Make peace with that statement because that is the basis of self-love.
Accepting that your worthiness (your quality of being good enough) is not dependent on how much you earn, what you do for a living, your weight, your looks or even who you know will free you from that feeling of not _______ enough.
Accepting that you are enough, irrespective of what you do not have.
Whenever that feeling of inadequacy begins to trickle down your spine, threatening to envelope your being, claim your worth, stand firm in the knowing that irrespective of what you’ve done wrong or don’t have, in this moment and time you are enough; because your worth is not dependent on how perfectly you’ve executed a task or how eloquently you speak, or how beautiful you look.
You are good enough simply because you are living and breathing. You are worthy!
2. Own your story - It's Brave
We've all had moments when we acted less than our better judgement. Moments we wished the earth would open up and swallow us so that we don't have to experience the shame that comes with acting beyond our better judgement.
When you have those moments, accept that it's OK. You're not perfect and perfection should not be the goal.
Owning your story is about identifying with the imperfect you. By owning your story you take back control of a situation that seeks to make you small and powerless. And being in that kind of position is powerful. It's saying I'm imperfect and it's OK.
It's taking the sting off the bite. Flaws and imperfection come as part of the package of being human. By owning those moments we identify with our humanness. The sooner we accept that imperfection is part of the human condition, the better we'll be able to experience self-love.
Does owning your story make it any less difficult or less embarrassing or shaming? Heck NO! But by owning our stories, it gives us an opportunity to accept who we are frailties and all, and it provides the perfect backdrop to practice kindness, self-love and self-compassion.
I like to use the phrase beautifully imperfect to describe the complexity of our beautiful frail humanity.
Self-love is treating yourself with respect. You're in other words saying " I'm not proud of this moment, but I am beautiful, talented ____, ____ irrespective of what has happened.
And I'll find my way again. And this is a position of power.
3. Honour Your Voice
Your ideas, your values, your opinion counts. Stop discounting it! Let's do a self-love check. How many times have you wanted to speak up in a meeting, gathering anywhere and you took the position of judge and jury in your mind and ruled "maybe next time"; as a result, you didn't speak up?
How often have you had an idea about something,; a business, project anything and “somehow” you haven’t put it out into the world. And by the way, how many people have you spoken to or brainstormed that idea with. Any? That idea only resides in the mind space of “someday I would love to”.
My point is, honour your voice. Instead of putting off your desires, values and ideas for some other person’s definition, choose you first. When you do, you reaffirm that your values, your opinion, your desire matter and that you are worthy. You make a statement to yourself that your values are worth fighting for.
By honouring your voice over and again, in different situations, you strengthen your self-love muscles. You’re making a declaration not only to yourself but to others that you matter and that you value yourself irrespective of what’s going well or not.
I don't believe we would ever see a society free of standards and social norms. But by incorporating these self-love exercises into your daily routine you’ll experience more joy, fulfilment and success.
Why? Because your sense of being enough is not dependant on other people’s validation but it comes from a well of abundance which runs from within. A knowing that you don’t have to measure up to society or other people’s standard because you are enough just as you are. Self-love is self-care in action.
I want to make sure I support you in your process of developing greater self-love; as a result I have listed some other resources that will support you on your journey. You can find them listed below.
Extra resources to support your self-love exercises:
Self-love books I dig:
The Gifts of Imperfection
You Can Heal Your Life
Self-Care for the Real World
A self-love motivation video that speaks to me:
Self-love quotes from some wise souls which remind me that loving myself, comes first:
“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli
“How you love yourself is
how you teach others
to love you”
― Rupi Kaur
From Me to You
I’d love to support you 1:1 in developing deeper self-love and become your confident, happy and successful self. To see how coaching can help:
I hope this article has helped you. Leave me a comment telling me about it or share your words of wisdom.
My aim is to shed light on the issues that affect women, equipping her to be confident, happy and successful.
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