Do you often feel disappointed with the quality of your life and your relationships? Do you beat yourself up for not measuring up, for being slow or clumsy, for messing up – again – and for just not being good or worthy enough? If the answer is yes, then the likelihood is that you aren’t loving yourself enough. I have coined this behaviour ‘Non-Love’.
Signs that you may not be loving yourself enough
– Pretending to feel all right (when you really don’t), so that others don’t feel uncomfortable
– Ignoring your inner voice and intuition
– Putting others wants and needs ahead of your own
– Making yourself feel unworthy of the good things in life, including love
– Staying in a job that kills your spirit because you have a mortgage to pay. To make this bearable you tell yourself that you are being realistic, responsible and reasonable
Non-love invades every single area of life from your relationship with yourself and others, to all the choices and decisions you make on a moment by moment basis.
These feelings, actions and behaviours affect everyone’s life at some point, although some undoubtedly suffer more than others. Why? The extent to which you are affected will depend on whether you are inclined to be left brained or right brained.
Left or Right Brained?
In ‘My Stroke of Insight’, Jill Bolte Taylor explains that, treating yourself non-lovingly, is universal. She says that you experience life and express yourself very differently depending on whether we’re coming from your left or right brain.
When you are in your right brain you’re fully present. You are not burdened by the past or fearful about the future. You have a loving attitude and approach to life, you are open to possibilities and go forth with enthusiasm and excitement.
When you’re in our left brain, you are task orientated, you communicate, understand, analyse and generally function effectively in the world.
The problem with the left brain is that it makes up stories and has a large capacity for stirring up drama and trauma, which you then believe to be true. The left brain also has the capacity to be mean, stubborn, cruel, judgemental, arrogant or sarcastic, both with yourself and with others. These are ‘non-loving’ behaviours.
Consequences of not loving yourself enough
It stops you from standing tall in the world. Until you recognize the many ways you treat yourself non-lovingly, there is no way you can stand tall.
If you’re aren’t friends with yourself, you cannot be a genuine friend to others. That’s because your relationship with yourself shapes your relationships with everybody else.
You become intolerant, impatient, critical, unkind and judgmental because that’s how you are with yourself.
You pretend to be an ‘innocent bystander’ in your relationships. You think that you are the thoughtful, reliable, open and honest one, whilst ‘they’ are… (fill in any adjective that fits your current judgment and gives you comfort).
These behaviours stem from non-loving and limiting beliefs and thoughts that cause you pain and fear and keep you separate from others. This is known as sabotaging yourself.
Having said that, you probably don’t even realize how you’re creating the very circumstances you insist you don’t want!
One big clue as to whether or not you like and accept yourself as you really are is the extent to which you need the approval of others. Do you trust others judgement instead of your own and try hard to make yourself acceptable to others – whatever the cost?
Here’s a question:
How far are you willing to betray yourself in your efforts to fit in, to be liked and accepted by others – even when deep down you feel uncomfortable?
Standing tall in the world is a process that leads you towards genuinely getting to like yourself as you really are and not some socially acceptable version of how you think you should be. Or even how you believe other people would like you to be. The operative word here is ‘believe’. Sometimes that belief is based on fact and sometimes it isn’t.
Identify and accept your negative traits
That is why, although just the process of exploring your non-loving behaviours may make you feel uncomfortable, the rewards are simply unimaginable. As my life coach used to tell me: “Nobody dies of uncomfortable.”
Beginning to identify the ways you treat yourself non-lovingly and introducing some changes, e.g. tentatively telling somebody how you really feel or asking for something you really need or want is a huge step forward. But you need to be consistent and persevere even when there appears to be no change. Remember that change always starts from within and you need a willingness to step out of your comfort zone.
One particularly insidious non-loving behaviour is refusing to contemplate aspects of yourself that you may regard as unacceptable. We have developed a variety of psychological mechanisms to protect ourselves from unwelcome information, such as suppressing or projecting those negative traits onto other people.
However, learning to acknowledge and accept all aspects of ourselves can have a fundamental impact not only on our own self-perception but also the way we perceive others. Once we see the whole of ourselves and not just the bits and pieces that we consider acceptable, we will be able to accept our own humanity and, from there, it’s a small step towards accepting the humanity of others.
This is the process that enables us to develop tolerance, patience, compassion, kindness and a non-judgmental approach both towards ourselves and others. How can we judge other people’s flaws when we’re flawed ourselves?
Change the habit – start liking and believing in yourself
The more you get to like and believe in yourself, the more you will attract like-minded and like-hearted people. People like yourself, who no longer need to resort to manipulation and control to get what they want. They simply ask for what they need knowing that they might get it – or they might not. Even then, they know that they will be able to handle it without getting angry, frustrated or resentful.
But what these people have found is that when they ask for what they need and want, they get more than they ever did before. If you’re still in this place where you hope ‘they’ will fulfil your needs just because they love you and, therefore, ‘should’ know what they are without you explicitly asking for it – forget it. The crystal ball approach to relationships never works!
The good news is that treating ourselves non-lovingly is a habit and, althoughcf breaking the habits of a lifetime is not easy, you can do it and you start by becoming more self-aware.
I will go into more detail in my next article. “The Gremlin and how to manage it”