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Why It's So Hard to Love Yourself: 3 No-Nonsense Reasons | Loving ourselves makes us happier. We know we should take breaks and set boundaries. Then why is it so hard to love ourselves? Discover 3 key reasons.

They say you can’t love someone else until you love yourself. ⁣

Years ago, I constantly beat myself up, ruminated on the past and felt ashamed of who I was.⁣

Yet my partner Loïc loved me anyway. He perceived beauty in the ugliest places. ⁣And I was able to love him too.⁣

I thought, If he can love me with my flaws, maybe I can try. That’s how I began to love myself.⁣

Loving ourselves makes us happier. We know we should eat healthy, take breaks, practice gratitude, set boundaries and forgive ourselves for mistakes. 

Then why is it so hard to love ourselves? ⁣

No, you’re not crazy—we’re dealing with more than we may realize.

Consider these 3 no-nonsense reasons:  

1) Childhood upbringing

Sometimes, I find myself rushing to prepare dinner, especially when I need to pick over baby leaf salad.

Why It's So Hard to Love Yourself: 3 No-Nonsense Reasons | Loving ourselves makes us happier. We know we should take breaks and set boundaries. Then why is it so hard to love ourselves? Discover 3 key reasons.

Then, Loïc gently puts his hand on my shoulder: Take your time. Do you want my help? His tenderness jolts me out of my whirlwind.

Sometimes, he’s the one that feels frustrated. 

The day’s stress gets to him and his back hurts. So I tell him to slow down. He replies, Nah, I just want to get this over with. 

Whenever one of us says something similar, the other teases: If it were me, would you tell me to take a break? 

And the one who’s being unkind to him/herself always nods sheepishly!

For those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, it’s second nature to prioritize the needs of others.

⁣When we were little, our parents may have blamed us or projected their negative emotions onto us. Perhaps we felt confused and guilty. We just wanted our parents to be happy and love us.

It didn’t make sense why they were mad, mean or absent. So we unconsciously assumed, If I study hard, mom will be happy. If I’m perfect, my parents won’t fight. 

The internalized message is that it’s our fault. That we must not be good enough. Or else none of these horrible things would happen.

This unworthiness lies deep within and impacts us as adults. When we finally release the burdens, we begin to understand that it was just a way to survive.

Our past no longer defines us. 

Then we can see that we are good enough.   

2) Cultural beliefs and values

Whether we like it or not, cultural beliefs and values deeply affect us.

Simply being part of society exposes us to certain unhelpful beliefs. They can dictate our lives, if we don’t become aware of them.

For example, we’re immersed in a culture of scarcity—we believe we’re not enough, we’re not doing enough or we don’t have enough.

This makes us feel anxious, ashamed and disconnected, no matter how many successes we have.

That’s why we tie our worth to achievements, we perfect, we compare ourselves to others and we avoid trying new things.  

Similarly, toxic shame can develop when mistakes plague us long after they happen. If our colleagues criticize us, we might withdraw or stifle our creativity.

All forms of prejudices and discrimination divide us from each other and affect us all. The types of discrimination are endless: age, disability, race, body size, political belief, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, etc.

Judgments about who we are aren’t necessarily blatant. They could appear as a rude stare, a well-meaning comment or poor service at a restaurant.

Mainstream media certainly doesn’t help. When we repeatedly see the same “ideals” upheld in ads, shows and films… Well, it’s easy to fall prey to those images.

Believing these negative messages contributes to feelings of worthlessness. We can’t control others, but we can learn to question these messages and process our emotions.

And find support from loved ones and healers.

Why It's So Hard to Love Yourself: 3 No-Nonsense Reasons | Loving ourselves makes us happier. We know we should take breaks and set boundaries. Then why is it so hard to love ourselves? Discover 3 key reasons.
Being present during mundane tasks like washing produce can be a self-compassion exercise.

3) Negativity bias

The negativity bias is our natural tendency to focus more on bad things that happen.

Research shows that we often learn more from negative outcomes and experiences. And that we tend to make decisions based on negative information, rather than positive things.

Have you ever found yourself dwelling on an embarrassing event that happened years ago? Others have long forgotten about it, but you feel upset as if it happened yesterday.  

That’s the negativity bias in action. It likely comes from earlier times, when paying more attention to bad or dangerous threats ensured our survival.

So it makes sense that we’d remember traumatic experiences more easily than positive ones. And that we’d adjust how we think of ourselves, according to others’ reactions. We all want to avoid criticism, rejection and humiliation.   

While this can help us improve our abilities, it can also demotivate us and propel self-doubt. Studies show that negative beliefs about ourselves can create a cycle of negative self-talk. Ultimately, we may hurt our relationships with loved ones and struggle to stay positive.

So how can we love ourselves, despite these obstacles? Start with these tips:

  • Practice mindfulness meditation to acknowledge recurring patterns and negative self-talk (e.g. Why did I do that? I’m so dumb.
  • Use EFT Tapping to de-stress from minor issues or work with me to get long-term relief
  • Write an encouraging letter to your younger self
  • Do nothing for 5 minutes every hour (aka take a break)
  • Set a time limit for social media and news intake
  • Move your body: take a walk, declutter or dance!

Embrace your flaws

It can be so hard to love yourself.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to love yourself and others at the same time. 

Yes, it probably would’ve been easier for my marriage if I had loved myself first. I would’ve been less needy and avoided painful drama.

Regardless, these life lessons taught me how to be self-compassionate—and find inner peace.

“Kiss your scars. Fall in love with them. They ought to serve as life-affirming reminders—a lingering trace of hope. The only reason we have these scars is because we survived and are still here.” ―Kamand Kojouri

Want some free support?

I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview via Zoom.

I enjoy connecting with other women and learning about their challenges related to confidence, boundaries and relationships.

In the first 15 minutes, I’ll ask questions like “How did you discover me?” for new content ideas. In the last 15 minutes, you’ll get an EFT session to feel calm and clear. (Yes, things can shift that quickly.)

This offer isn’t a discovery call, where we discuss my paid services. It’s a fun opportunity to connect and support each other!

If you feel inspired to work with me, we can book a free call to make sure we’re a good fit.

I look forward to connecting with you!

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