Notice the word “like.” I’m not going to be so bold as to introduce eight steps that will have you love yourself. Baby steps, right? For some, self-love is a no-brainer. They grew up in homes where LOVE was the predominant four-letter word. Some possess too much, and like Vanity Smurf, are most comfortable with a mirror in hand. These are the loud talkers, who think that everyone 20 feet behind and ahead of them should hear what’s on their mind. I have been working toward self-like for 25 years now and think I have about 25 more to go before I’m truly comfortable in my own skin. I have lots and lots of exercises I use to get me smiling in the mirror instead of growling, gleaned from the bookshelves of self-help books I’ve read over the years and the lessons I take away from therapy sessions. Here are a few of my favorites, some of the steps I’ve taken lately to like myself more. Maybe they will generate some amicable feelings in you, as well.
1. Lower your expectations
It’s easy to hate yourself when you keep falling short of your expectations. Last summer, when I stepped away from my corporate job, I felt as though I should still be able to make at least two-thirds of that salary as a freelance writer crafting mental-health pieces. So I signed on to an unrealistic number of contracts, giving myself approximately 2.5 hours to complete each piece. If I were able to crank out two to three articles a day, I could meet my salary expectation. Two things happened: my writing was horrible, because I didn’t have time to do any research or give much thought to the pieces, and I cried more than I wrote. A friend of mine saw the pressure I was putting on myself and begged me to quit one of my gigs (as a depression expert of all things) … to save my sanity. In the process of patching myself together again after my breakdown at that time, I realized that I needed to give myself realistic goals. I tripled my time allowance for each piece, so now if I get one done in less than 7.5 hours, I walk away with a feeling of accomplishment rather than defeat. I held on to some hourly consulting work—where I can charge a higher rate–to make the numbers work.