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Why The Lack of Self Love has Your Life in a Chokehold

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Portrait of sad young black woman feeling bad

Have you ever felt like you were in a chokehold and can't seem to get ahead in life? And, no matter what you do, you can't seem to release the tight grip? You may be suffering from a lack of self-love.

Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D, President & CEO of Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, says:

"Self-love is defined as a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.  Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve."

Self-love is this unspoken taboo. I never knew that there was such a thing as loving yourself. After all, I thought that I automatically loved myself because I am myself. I didn't realize self-love required treating yourself in a specific kind of way. Once I learned what self-love was, I immediately thought that this was something that I should have learned starting in childhood. Self-love is not a one-time event; it is a way of life. Without self-love, we could find ourselves drowning in many situations such as:

~Masking who we are

~Over analyzing our behaviors

~Having an intense fear of being judged by others

~Poor mental and physical health

~Feeling inferior to others

~Being too hard on ourselves

~Lacking confidence

~Needing excessive affirmations and attention from others to validate ourselves

~Chaotic or toxic relationships

~Feeling undeserving

~Self-sabotaging

As a result, we become bombarded with a mirage of negative feelings and thoughts like:

~ I'm not good enough

~ I'm too fat

~ I'm not pretty enough

~ I'm not smart enough

~I never do anything right

~I can't seem to get ahead

~ Nothing ever goes right for me

~Nobody ever helps me

~I can't leave this job

~Nobody likes me

~My life is a mess

~ I'm lonely

~ I'll never find a mate

~I never have enough money

~ I'm too old

~I have tried everything, and nothing works

~ Nothing good ever happens to me

This list goes on and on. These negative thoughts and feelings cause us to make up stories in our heads that are untrue and eventually sends us spiraling down a rabbit hole. We get so lost in our heads that we feel like we are going crazy. Please don't confuse self-love with selfishness, narcissism, entitlement, arrogance, or vanity—that's fear, not self-love. In addition, practicing self-love doesn't mean you don't have areas that you need to improve upon. As a part of self-love, you should always be working to grow as a person.

Self-love means accepting yourself as you are in this moment for everything that you are. It means accepting your emotions for what they are and putting your physical, emotional & mental well-being first. The thoughts that we think are creating our future, and we have an active role in making our experiences by our thoughts and the words we speak. Unfortunately, we believed and accepted what others have said about us to the point that it has become our truth. However, you don't have to take on someone else's truth about you. What is your truth about yourself? You are the expert of you, not someone else. According to Louise Hay, our subconscious mind accepts whatever we choose to believe. If you think you are not smart enough, you are not smart enough; if you think you will never find a mate, you will never find a mate; if you think you can't catch a break, then you won't catch a break. Stop creating negativity in your life and start creating positivity in your life. You choose what to think about, not anyone else but you, so if you need to, turn the station to a more appropriate channel, then do so. Stop owning other people's shit and negative thoughts about you. Choosing not to hold onto other people's negative thoughts doesn't mean that we don't have flaws and should not improve those flaws. Self-love means that you love and accept who you are in this moment and that you are a work in progress.

"self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself."

—Anonymous

Growing up, we are robbed of our feelings because we are told how to feel— you're not tired, you're not hungry, that scrape on your knee doesn't hurt, you are not bored there is plenty to do, it's not hard just try harder, there is nothing to be scared of, and don't cry, there is nothing to cry about. This leads to adults who don't know how to be themselves due to most of their feelings being dictated to them. These people begin to wonder, "Who am I." As a result of the latter, we develop these personas of who we think we are supposed to be, and then we move through life based on these premises. This resonates with me and is so crucial because it explains why I always wanted to be seen. I felt ignored and dismissed as an adolescent, and more importantly—I felt unheard. This might explain why I always wanted a career that would put me front and centered even though I didn't have the tough skin for some of these positions. My interest was in journalism, acting, cosmetology, and event planning to name a few; mind you, my attraction to these jobs, to some degree, had to do with my love for creativity as well. I have always felt like I was searching for something but didn't know what and looking deeper into self-love, I believe it was acknowledgment. I had a lack of self-love. The lack of self-love may also explain why I overloaded my plate with working a full-time job, teaching at the college, counseling clients, and raising a family while earning my Ph.D. When I told others all that I was doing, it seemed like a big deal to them, but I was doing what I felt I had to do, or subconsciously was I looking for acknowledgment.

Here are a few ways to begin your journey to self-love:

~Let go of comparison

~Stop procrastination

~Create a self-love mantra: I am enough. I am worthy. I accept myself.

~Hire a coach or counselor

~Do something for yourself without guilt

~Compliment someone today

~Start a gratitude journal

~Start meditating

~Make a list of things you like about yourself

~Remove yourself from toxic relationships

~Celebrate the minor wins

~Embrace what is different about you

~Treat yourself with love and respect

~Give up the need for approval from others

~Forgive yourself and others

~Let go of the past

~Find your happy place

There are many other ways to start practicing or begin your journey to self-love via books, podcasts, Youtube videos, and Google searches. I challenge you to take a closer look at how you are currently practicing self-love and where you may be lacking in it, so you can improve the quality of your life.

Dr. Cassandra 4