This one’s a tough one. There’s a voice inside that tells you, you’re not worth it, you keep screwing up, you’re not attractive enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not successful enough (and I can guess that list goes on and on).
I know that voice. It is a killer. It kills your self-esteem, it kills your confidence. It stops you living. No wonder if you’re handling all that, the idea of someone falling for you seems an impossible dream at times.
How ‘I don’t love myself’ isn’t all it seems
It sounds so big when you say ‘I don’t love myself’, so absolute, so final. I don’t doubt for a minute that’s how you are feeling when you say it.
But indulge me for a minute or two. Can we start with this idea that you don’t love yourself?
When a client I’m counselling says that, I gently wonder to myself if it is as absolute as they say in the moment? That there is nothing in them that they love, not a single thing that gives a little tingle or glow, of yea, that’s not so bad actually. Or more than not so bad, pretty amazing when they think about it.
In the years I’ve been counselling clients, no-one has come through the door for whom I haven’t thought or felt a moment of ‘you are extraordinary.’ Ok, what I feel is not so important actually but….
The ‘what do I love about me’ list
If someone doesn’t feel that way about themselves, I’ll invite them to make bit of an inventory together of what is so unloveable and what, as a counterpoint, might be loveable. In doing so it seems possible to challenge that belief, to find a precious jewel in the coal cellar of despair.
Finding one loveable thing might be all you can do at first. And that’s fine. It’s already a chink of light in the dark. Or it might snowball and you find yourself with more on the list than you ever expected.
Why it works
Sometimes you put so much distance between yourself and that knowledge of what is extraordinary about you that you feel utterly unloveable, unworthy and irredeemable.
Keeping yourself under attack, small, invisible was also quite useful at some point in your life; it kept you safe; got you to shut up when you needed or maybe it just confirmed something you heard from others around you. By the way, this is how perfectionists are made, but that’s a whole other story.
It’s as if that loveable part, the part of you that wants to be loved has been locked away in the deepest dungeon and the key has been well and truly thrown away.
The ‘what do I love about me’ list is a way of reconnecting with the real you, the part that knows you are loveable, the part that loves you.
So why do I keep falling in love, even if I feel unloveable?
So you might be thinking, if that’s true for you, how is it that you can fall in love? Well yes, believe in romance for sure. Love’s magic can happen unexpectedly and take you by surprise. Your heart’s still beating strong in there.
Sometimes we fall in love with someone because they seem to have that something we can’t see in ourselves, in abundance. But (yes, there is a but) I feel there is also truth in how difficult it is to love someone as an equal when we can’t connect with love for ourselves. The hard part is seeing that when you’re falling head over heels.
This week’s Lifeline
The good news is that it is possible to reconnect with love for yourself. Counselling can really help you see yourself for what you are, not a walking disaster nor a saint. Just real. With beauty and flaws.
If you are feeling unloveable right now, try the 3 Selves Wellbeing Lifeline. It’ll take around 30 minutes and needs a bit of peace and quiet to work.
The 3 Selves Ritual
What’s it all about?
This ritual is about connecting with the extremes in our self-image (the worst and the best) before finding an ideal (but not idealised) version. The writing part is really important, or you can draw if you prefer, as it helps ground your experience.
|1 Find a quiet space where you can be at peace and relaxed. Light a candle, put on some soothing music. Feel warm.|
|2 Focus on your breathing and go to a still quiet place inside|
|3 Imagine the worst version of yourself possible, the one that is unlovable. Get in touch with all that is unlovable in its gory detail.|
|4 Come out of that imagining and make a few notes for yourself. How do you feel about this version of you (you can throw this away when you’re done or keep it safe if you wish)|
|5 Now go back inside yourself and imagine the best of yourself; the opposite extreme; the one about whom everything is good. Again stay with that version of yourself for a few minutes.|
|6 Now come out and again make some notes about that side of yourself.|
|7 Go back inside yourself for a third time and now imagine your ideal self, the middle ground perhaps, not all perfection but not all bad either. What is different and real about this version of you? How do you feel about this version of you?|
|8 Come out for a final time and write about this ideal you. Notice how you feel in writing about him or her.|
|9 Finally, come out and let yourself gently rest from this experience. And take a few minutes to write about the overall experience. What has it left you with? What surprised you?|
And if you’d like to reconnect with the loveable you, why not get in touch?
Photo by Luis Sarabia licensed under Creative Commons