The Secret To Contentment, Happiness and Loving Yourself

By Guest Blogger Jamie Dougherty

I’ll love myself when…

I have Jennifer Aniston’s legs, J. Lo’s booty and Gisele’s abs

My mother approves of me

I finish my TO-DO list

I have so much money I can lay it on the floor and roll in it

There is constant applause wherever I go

I’ve got Oprah on speed dial

My grandmother stops patting my butt and saying, “Oh, you’ve filled out.”

I’m happy

I learn gratitude

My husband tells me I’m beautiful (and means it!)

I run a marathon

I make dinner in 20 minutes flat and the family adores it

I’m a good parent

I look the way I think I should

I gently slide into my just-pulled-out-of-the-dryer jeans

I’m PERFECT


And the list goes on and on, right?

We tend to love ourselves from the outside in, using exterior forces such as weight, success and praise to determine our capacity for worthiness. We ask arbitrary questions like, “Did I avoid cookies today?” ” How much have I accomplished from my to-do list?”  “Do you think he will ask me out again?” as gauges for self-love.  These random means of measuring undoubtly shift and dare I say, fall short which keeps us asking, “Do I really deserve to love myself?”

First know, loving ourselves from the outside in, is crazy easy, which is why it’s our default position. You can let go of the “I should know better” guilt, right now.  We are trained from a very young age to use looks, wealth, parental praise and societal status to meter our lovability.  However, this is a Red Alert situation as it places our self-love on an unstable structure built solely on others’ thoughts and approval, which indefinitely bars our best efforts to access and elevate our self-worth.


So remind me again why we let this happen?  Because it is how we humans socialize and determine where we fit in the grand scheme of things. For example, remember in 5th grade when Julie Kay said your curly hair looked like Medusa?  Rather than politely informing her that actually, your hair was a luscious mane reflecting your rich Jewish heritage and straight blond hair was a sign of stupidity (not true of course but it would have felt good to say at the time), you allowed her hurtful words to become the definitive truth and effect your thoughts of personal beauty.

We allow our feelings of ourselves to be colored by the people and images around us, rather than turning inward and believing from our heart, “I am enough.  I am beautiful.  I am lovable just as a I am.”  (Thank you, Stuart Smalley.)

Here’s another zinger that keeps up from loving ourselves from the inside out.  Often people think loving yourself makes you stuck up, conceited or a braggart.  This is a constant concern for many of my clients.   Let me lay it down for you.  Thinking you are great does not mean singing your personal praises to everyone within earshot.  These unfavorable traits arise when the said braggart is not fully secure in him/her self and so puts on an air of “I’m amazing” to compensate for the deep belief that he/she is actually not so wonderful.  Anyone honestly secure in their inner worth has no need to shout it from the roof tops.

Of course it’s one thing to know that contentment, happiness and yes even success lie within loving yourself from the inside out, but it is an entirely different story to actually do it.

Here’s how to get the self-love ball rolling:

  • Release Rancid Restrictions–  These are the unconscious rules we make up that keep us looking to others for love and validation. “If I lose 20 pounds, he will love me.”   Or even better, “If I lose 20 pounds, I’ll love myself.”  Restrictions are boxes we cram ourselves into with only one way to get out.  The pressure put on that single way becomes so stifling we can’t help but fail, which fuels our “I’m unloveable” fire.
  • Do it Daily-  Releasing rancid restrictions is a muscle that needs flexing daily.  The next time you find yourself looking outside for love, acceptance or permission, say, “I am everything I need to be.”  It is amazing what that simple flip will do for you.
  • Trust-  The reason why you love from the inside out daily, is because reprogramming rancid restrictions ain’t easy.  Along with doing it daily must come the trust that YES, you have the strength to love yourself on your own terms and YES, it will get easier.  Old patterns will certainly creep back in.  However as long as you trust yourself to find your way back to inner strength, you will continue to move toward self-love.
  • Ask for it-  Just because you are now loving yourself from the inside out, does not mean you can’t ask for outside love when you need it.  In fact, asking for healthy outside love is the quickest way to reset your own self-love barometer.  I ask my friends and family for love all the time.  In fact, I often tell them exactly what I need to hear.  (Can you please tell me I’m doing a good job?)  The key is to ask from a place of strength (This is what I need in this exact moment) rather than insecurity (If they tell me I’m lovable, it will fix everything.).

Moral of the story….Visual markers aren’t reasons for self-love, but rather indicators of it.   A healthy body, fantastic friends, financial security and admiration come not from external seeking but when you harness your own inner-love and focus it in an authentic, true and impactful way.  Whao, that’s deep!

Now get off the fence, go out there and start loving yourself ASAP.  Not after you work out, not when you kick sugar and certainly not when your mother finally tells you your the daughter she’s always wanted.  Start now, this instant and notice with that simple flip how you feel stronger, lighter, freer and seriously unstoppable!

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About Jamie Dougherty…

Jamie G. Dougherty is a Food and Body Coach and owner of JamieLiving.com. Jamie works with overwhelmed women who feel stuck, spread too thin and are hungry for something more. At Jamie Living, women on a mission love their bodies, adore their food and lead kick-ass lives – that’s what Jamie is all about.

Jamie is unbelievably passionate about teaching women how to listen to their bodies and release the inner berating that’s bogged them down for years.

Jamie has appeared on radio programs such as Martha Stewart Living Radio, ABC’s View From The Bay, The Green Gate on Fitness Radio and various television programs. She also writes articles for The CRAVE Company, SpaWeek and various other online publications.

Tell us what you think about Jamie’s point of view? Is loving yourself something that comes easily to you, or do you struggle with low self esteem? Do you also feel that constant  (and common) need for external validation and approval? Share with our community. You just might help someone.
xoxEDxox
12 Comments
  1. Jamie, thank you for a great article. I used to rely on external validation and approval until i got my own gig. True. Accomplishing something BY YOURSELF, does wonders for your self esteem. That could mean a career, volunteer work, something separate from your partner or children. Something to call your own. When I knew I had done a good job, then I no longer relied on anyone to tell me I was good, or pretty, or smart or whatever. It’s a wonderful feeling that takes A LONG TIME, AND A LOT OF WORK to attain. Of course there are daily, weekly or monthly, setbacks, but independence is a wonderful thing.

    1. I absolutely agree Erica. Having something that fully feeds you is extremely empowering. It also helps release the emotional charge we often have to validation, approval and criticism. There are always setbacks as we are in a constant state of change and growth. Self love really is about being gentle during the setbacks and with that, noticing that you move past them more quickly than had you berated yourself for not being “perfect” all the time.

  2. Great article. I don’t have the best self esteem. My mother was one of those mothers who was extremely hard on me and I was never quite good enough. That kind of parenting has long lasting effects. I am a work in progress.

    1. Thank you for sharing Laura. It can be so hard to get the parental voices out of our head. The problem is when we start confusing our mother’s voice with our own. When you can step back and realize that negative voice is not your own and that YOU actually love yourself unconditionally, everything begins to soften and feel stronger.

    1. Thanks Leah and I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. The most important thing to know is self love is a muscle. At first it may seem difficult to actually feel it but after a bit of practice your self-love will strengthen at a surprising rate.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I cannot hear this often enough. We grow up to please others to fit in and after a while we forget who we are. I had to turn 50 to finally get it that I have to be gentle with myself, accept myself for who I am and unconditionally love myself, in order to be happy.
    It’s a great ongoing practice. Good article!

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