This episode is designed to get you thinking about how you really feel about yourself. This work isn’t the easy road. It’s one that takes a lot of courage to embark on and a lot of courage to stay in it. The more you do it, the more you want to stay on this path. And the more you want to create the disciplines in your life to continue on it.
You’ll definitely begin uncovering feelings you didn’t know where there. Those deeply he’d beliefs that were implanted somewhere in our life. They were misinterpretations that our brain made along the way, and we held on to them.
But like I’ve talked about in other episodes, this is a good thing because once you begin uncovering these feelings, you’ll know where your work is most needed.
This topic about loving yourself that we’re talking about on today’s episode was inspired by a retreat I just did in Bali and work I’ve done on myself in the last decade. When I started thinking about each of the areas I’m going to discuss in this podcast, it made me realize that I didn’t love or value myself as much as I though I did.
I was holding onto a lot of beliefs that were misinterpretations of the world.
And while at the women’s retreat in Bali, led by the phenomenal Anne Marie Kramer at Zuda Yoga in Sacramento, we all spoke openly about these feelings and beliefs that were were holding on to. It made me realize that this concept of devaluing ourselves is a common phenomena.
At some point many of us internalize — and I’m actually going to generalize and say all women do this at some point in their lives — that we don’t matter.
I can’t speak for the male experience because I’m not a male, but I imagine that there’s some of that there for men as well.
When I was a kid, my voice didn’t matter. I wasn’t heard. I was loved, but I felt more love when I did what I was told. My brain interpreted this as I don’t matter as much as others and what I have to say doesn’t matter.
Other people have experienced trauma where they were outright told by their caregivers that they were worthless, and they internalized this into adulthood feeling that what was said by their caregivers was truth.
It’s important to recognize that these statements or behaviors by others don’t reflect on us. They reflect on the people behaving and saying those things. Those are reflections of their mental state and have no bearing on us as humans.
This recognition isn’t about blaming them – they were doing the best they could. But our brain internalizes them, and it’s up to us as adults to recognize then we’re triggered – that is, when those old feelings come up – then change our behaviors.
Because every feeling we have about ourselves impacts how we behave in the world. If we act from old behaviors, then we can never make the change we want to make in our lives. We’re always acting from that old space.
When we get in touch with how we feel, then we can recognize the old thought pattern and reframe it to behave differently and get different results in our lives.
If we don’t change, then we will never get different results in our lives. We’re doomed to relive those old patterns. The good news is that we CAN change. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve seen others make tremendous change in their lives.
So what are some of the signs to discover whether you really are loving yourself and what can you do once you recognize that there’s room to expand that love for yourself?
I’m walking you through 4 areas where you can recognize how well you’re really loving yourself and what you can do to make change in the right direction.
I’ve created a free workbook that walks you through the questions I ask and gives you space to fill in your answers. You can get it below.
First, let’s talk about settling.
My first conscious experience with settling was when I was 19 years old, and I told my mom that I didn’t think I was in love with my boyfriend. We had talked about marriage, and I wasn’t so sure that was the right thing for me. When I told her this, she responded, “Well, does he love you?” That response inferred that so long as he loved me, then I should stay with him. What did it matter if he loved me if I didn’t love him?
Later on in life I recognized that I was settling in other areas of my life. I recognized that I was settling for “good enough” or “mostly good” in a lot of areas.
Settling isn’t doing these we’re not excited about to get a result we want. Settling is doing the same thing every day even though it’s not good for you because you’re comfortable in that space. It’s a habit. One example is staying in a relationship for way too long when you know it’s not right for you. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. But it’s not a good fit.
Settling is maintaining the same eating habits even though you know they’re not good for you because it feels familiar.
To stop settling, you must do uncomfortable things. This is where our brains get caught up in habit. Our reptilian brain wants to keep us safe. The old patterns feel familiar. Feel safe. It’s to us to uncover what’s happening and to create change. That means getting out of our comfort zone – quitting the relationships, quitting the unhealthy habits.
We’re actually making a choice to settle if we don’t make change. We’re deciding that being in that unhealthy relationship is okay. We’re deciding that staying in the job we don’t like is ok. We’re deciding that eating unhealthy is ok.
But when these actions are unconscious – when we don’t know that we’re doing them – how do you make change?
That’s where I was for a long time, and once I recognized what I was doing, I knew I had to make change or I was never going to become the person I knew I could become.
What can you do to discover whether you’re really loving yourself in each of area of your life? To discover whether you’re settling.
First, do an inventory.
Ask yourself in each area of your life how you feel. It’s that simple. On a scale from 1 – 10, 10 being the best it can be and 1 being the worst it could be, how do you like that area of your life? Work, relationship, money, your house, your food, your body, anything. And see if you can attach a feeling to each of these areas in your life – annoyed, tired, fearful, anxious – whatever it is, that will give you a sense of where you want to be.
Next, ask yourself what feeling you want to have in each of these areas.
Excitement? Joy? Vitality? Prosperous? What is the feeling that lights you up when it comes to each of these areas of your life that you’re inventorying.
Finally, write down 3 ideas you have for creating that feeling in your life.
For example, let’s say when you come home from the office, you feel exhausted and your home is a mess. If you want to feel more joy when you come home, you could hire a housekeeper to come in a straighten things up a couple times a month, place fresh flowers in the entryway, so you see them when you walk in the door, have an easy way to play some nice music to make you feel more relaxed and joyful after a long day.
The second area to look at in our lives is whether we're taking care of ourselves.
Ask yourself, why would we think highly of ourselves if we’re not showing ourselves that we matter every day.
I break this topic down into three levels of caring for ourselves.
One – the Basic Level.
Basically this includes food, water and shelter. Those things we need to feel safe.
This is making the time to cook or have healthy meals and hydration.
You’ve probably heard about moms who pass out from dehydration because they forgot to drink water while caring for everyone else but themselves. This basic level is very much about putting the oxygen mask on you first, so you can function at the most basic level of care for yourself and others.
Two – the Mental Health Maintenance Level.
You do all of the above, and then this also includes quiet time to reflect. We can’t make room for personal growth when we don’t create this reflection time. How can a flower bloom if the soil is dry and there are a bunch of weeds sucking all the nutrients from the soil. Our thoughts are the same way. If we don’t take time to recognize the thoughts that are taking up space in our garden like weeds, then we feel depleted and our growth is stunted. If we don’t take the time to weed out the unhealthy thoughts, then we’re never going to flourish.
This level also includes optimal sleep. We tend to believe that we can create more time by cutting into our sleep. However, when we do that, we sacrifice performance. We become agitated, less focused, more anxious. Test this for yourself. I’ve gone a few days at 7 hours a night and discovered I needed 8 a night to feel my best. It really depends on how you function. If you feel like you’re dragging in the morning, chances are good that you need more sleep.
Consistent exercise is another component to this level.
And maybe you’ve also hired a personal coach to keep you on track with your growth and help weed out those thoughts that don’t serve us.
You have the occasional manicure, pedicure, massage or other body work to feel good.
Three – High Level Care
You do all of the above, and you take large chunks of time to yourself. Going to Bali was this for me. You can also have a weekend to yourself or take trips to further your goals that include networking, connection with friends, etc.
You definitely invest in a one-on-one coach or a group coaching program. This was part of the reason I created the Lawyer’s Soul Roadmap and have one-on-one coaching for driven professionals: I wanted to create a space for people to grow and create the lives they didn’t know were possible. With coaching, we tend to surpass what we think is possible. This kind of personal care allows us to live up to our full potential.
Coaching also allows us to care for others in ways we really want to do. When we’re taking this high level of care for ourselves, we can serve those around us much better.
We’re fortunate to live in a way and in a time where these resources are available to us, so why not take advantage of them?
To reach your optimal level of care, start out by figuring out where you are right now. Are you at the basic level, Mental Health Maintenance Level or a High Level Care? Maybe your goal is to go from the Mental Health Maintenance Level to High Level Care. Or maybe you don’t even even feel like you’re at the Basic Level of Care, and you want to include more healthy foods in your meals or you’re dehydrated. Just start somewhere.
The third topic related to loving yourself is speaking up for what you want and need.
Do you do this?
This comes up when we have awareness around what we want or need whether it’s in a relationship, at the office, or something else entirely. Whatever it is, you know something isn’t working right. And you don’t speak up.
This is related to settling in the first topic we talked about, right? Only now, you have awareness, but you don’t do anything about it.
You may think to yourself that your voice doesn’t matter, and it’s not easy to change anything in your life, so why bother?
We must ask for what we need even if it’s uncomfortable.
If this sounds like you: you know that something isn’t right, and you can even name what it is, but you’re not doing anything about it, then here’s what I want you to do.
First, write out exactly what you want – no matter how “unreasonable” you think it is.
We tend to minimize our needs to make others feel comfortable. Imagine that you asked for exactly what you wanted? What an amazing gift you can give someone that they always know that you’re honest and will tell them exactly what you need? Your no means no and your yes means yes. It’s pretty incredible when you’re in that kind of integrity with yourself and others. I notice that when I’m not in integrity with this that I feel resentful or hesitant. That’s the first emotion I feel when I know I should have said the opposite of whatever I said.
Second, say what you mean. Ask for it.
Pretty simple, right? But see…
Third, if you don’t feel ready to ask for what you want, there’s something bigger going on that you haven’t uncovered or worked on. Work on it.
A personal coach can help you with this. You can also try to talk it out with a friend, but I find that oftentimes they want to fix things, and I need direction so I can think things through myself. Coaches are meant to get you thinking in different ways, so that you can solve your own issues. There’s no one there to make it all better. That would be stealing from your growth, and that’s no fun, right?
The last topic I want to talk about today related to loving yourself is negative self-talk.
The most obvious of the negative self-talk you probably are already aware of: Saying to ourselves, “I’m so stupid, so fat, worthless, ugly, I’m not good enough to…, I’ll never…., why bother?”
There’s more insidious kinds though. It looks like, “I would do that but…fill in the excuse.” “I don’t have time to…fill in the blank with anything you really want in life.” “I could do that, but I don’t have the money too…fill in the blank with anything you know is good for you or will help you grow.”
We make excuses for why we don’t do things because our brain is trying to keep us comfortable. But you may be asking, “well, Dina, I really don’t have the time or money to do what I think is best for me.” I call BS on your excuses.
We create the time and spend our money on those things that mean the most to us. To those things we’re committed to. I love the phrase, “The transformation is in the transaction.” When we exchange energy of some kind – whether it’s time or money – to invest in ourselves, it is transformative. We make huge leaps in growth and understanding. When we fail to intentionally invest our time and money into those things that we know will benefit us, we’re stealing from ourselves. And maybe just as importantly, we’re stealing from those around us who can benefit. The only thing I can ever do for another person is work on myself. I can’t change other people. I can’t make the world a better place by force of will. I can only work on myself and make myself a better person, and maybe someone will be inspired by that. That goes for each of us.
One of the biggest impacts on our negative self-talk is the input we receive every day from magazine, TV, social media and the people around us.
Each of these tells us how they think we should be. We rarely take time – remember that high level of care we talked about – to reconnect with ourselves and see what they have to say for what they are – reflections of someone else’s beliefs. It’s not reality. And we’re perfect exactly as we are.
What can you do to counteract all the input we receive?
In addition to figuring out what level of self-care you are at and where you can incorporate quiet time, recognize when you feel down. We usually feel our feelings before we recognize our thoughts.
Second, try to figure out what thought you had just before you felt that feeling. That will give you an idea of what was going on in your head and where your work is.
My goal recording this podcast is to let you know that there is always another way. It may mean a difficult choice, a tough conversation, or something else that will push you out of your comfort zone, but it’s always your choice.
I hope that I’ve given you some things to think about. If you want to work these exercises to get the most from this podcast, go here to download the free workbook where I walk you step by step through these exercises.
I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll talk to you soon.