By Betty Gulko

A struggle all throughout my life was to love myself. Not the superficial kind, but a true, deep, flaws-and-all type of love. Love—what a word. What does that even mean? But I digress … I recall so many times over and over again trying to figure out what was holding me back from loving myself—loving all of me and allowing others to love me, too. Being vulnerable and allowing others to see all of you is really challenging when you have a deep inner fear of love. I slowly began to understand a meaning to this stage I was in, a reason—acceptance. I first and foremost could not accept myself. If I could not accept all of me, well, I certainly won’t love myself.

There’s really no way to escape. Before you will be able to fully love, allow yourself to be loved, and understand the meaning of love, you must love yourself. This comes from accepting all parts of yourself.

Since I was a child I always had a natural joy. A joy towards life, friendships, and learning new things. Yet, I knew I was different. I did not have the environmental infrastructure that most of the other families had. I did not go on Sunday family trips. I did not have fancy new clothes. I did not go on holiday vacations. I did not believe in myself and see my flaws as beautiful. I did not have the deep inner connection to family and therefore never understood the true meaning of being loved. I did not even know this, as I always moved forward and continued making strides as best I could as I continued onto another grade.

As I became an adult, ready to discover how this huge mesmerizing world could fit into my tiny bubble, I finally understood that I truly did not accept myself—my flaws, my past, my challenges, my quirkiness, my snort when I laugh, my strong sense of smell and details, my inability to do math—you know, just all the things that simply make me … me. Wow, how much of that was I ashamed of? Embarrassed about? Hiding to try and “fit in,” or did I just let it all out to try and pretend that it all was OK? So, I had to take a deep dive to discover this and myself and acceptance.

Shifting our mindset into appreciating what abilities we have or don’t have takes time, focus, and effort. There are years of negative self-talk and so much more to undo. Being able to realize that all of what makes us ourselves “is okay” and in fact those exact things makes others love you. How ironic, don’t you think? Once I began the true acceptance and learning about myself (and even being able to laugh about all of my idiosyncrasies), I understood love—the love towards myself.

Bam, just like that, so many doors and relationships opened up for me. I was giving myself the love and care that I deserved. Others were able to feel the powerful confidence of me believing in myself and giving that same aura to others. Below I will share some tips of how you can begin to give yourself love. Let’s start the process in glowing up into becoming our best selves.

When you feel hurt by others, remind yourself that they are just like you. Other people are no different than you and me. When we remember this, we are able to really try to think of them in their position. Maybe they are going through their own struggles and do not know how to handle it.

Ask yourself where you can heal. Accepting where you need to heal and doing the necessary work is so vital. In discovering the areas that need to be cleansed and then doing what you can to work on understanding and cleaning them up, you will discover self-love.

Be of service to others in the world. When you do for others you find compassion. Compassion allows for a true sense of humanity and you become a kinder person. My default, kind people to others are kind people to themselves.

Have fun by yourself. Learn what makes you happy, laugh, and naturally be yourself. Being able to be by yourself helps you to understand how you tick, what your automatic thoughts are, and what brings you authentic joy.

Pursue new interests. Try new and different things! Get outside of your comfort zone. Discover new ways of doing things you currently do. This helps to broaden your understanding of people and self.

Take care of your body and health. The best way to have anything truly penetrate is to be in your best self-care mindset. Aside from all of the other benefits of being in good shape and heathy, being the healthiest you can be allows all the goodness you give to yourself to take action most effectively.

Stop comparing yourself to others. I don’t think I can stress this enough. It is perhaps one of the most challenging things to not do in this day and age, yet it is one of the most important. Comparing yourself simply makes no sense for your mental health. We have what we have and we can only grow with who and what we have available at this time. If you are strong and healthy in all the areas we have discussed, and you use comparison as an inspiration, that is great. Otherwise, it is not helpful and we need to be cautious of this.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. No one person can do everything alone. We need each other. We need the support and guidance from healthy friends, family, and even a therapist. We need to be able to feel safe and comfortable to ask for help. Sometimes all we need is that one conversation to get us moving in the right direction.

One call can change your whole life. Don’t hesitate on self-love. Remember, it starts with acceptance. Glowing up has never felt so good… see you on the other side! 

Betty Gulko, Psy.M., is a consultant/coach who focuses on mindset + confidence and helps others GLOW UP from the inside out. As the founder of Chat with Betty podcast and the Glow Up Club, she made the leap from trauma to success by allowing herself to pivot into who she truly is, and you can do the same. For more information, visit BettyGulko.com or e-mail Hello@BettyGulko.com. Follow @BettyGulko on social media for daily doses of inspiration.

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