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How Do I Learn to Love Myself?

"How Do I Learn to Love Myself?"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

This question is plain and simple. I don't really get any sense of relief from my own self. I beat myself up, but at the same time I give myself too much of a break — serious self-esteem issues. I'm glad about the little things I accomplish but I don't seem to like anything I accomplish. (It's hard to explain.) I am 17, and I know that's very young to have self-esteem issues, actually I don't think anyone should have these issues. I've tried therapy throughout my life and their method is to write in a journal and remind yourself of the positive and write down 3 positive things every day, exercise, talk with friends, dress yourself up, don't stay in the dark. I've been doing this for years now and I seem to just do it out of homework. I know how to find every negative thing in every positive thing. Bringing myself down is my specialty. I realize I'm gullible to negative comments about me and I can't help but feel even more insecure. I know I should lean on myself more, but I have no idea how I can do that if I don't like myself much. I know self-esteem issues come from the way you were raised, so I've been told, but knowing that won't help me solve my problem. I want to know what I can do from here on out, different advice from different people.

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kelsiehoagland kelsiehoagland 5 years
I can guess that no one has commented on this because we're all struggling with loving ourselves. I understand what you're going through. I have a disorder call Body Dysmorphic Disorder and is creates obsessive self esteem issues which cause anxiety, sadness, and anger. Through a couple recent years of therapy (just ended today, actually), I have learned so much and maybe I can help you a little. My therapist constantly told me to be mindful. Be mindful, think about what you're doing and why you're doing it, while you're beating yourself up or picking someone or something else apart. If looking in the mirror too long makes you upset, don't do it! Allow yourself a certain amount of mirror use each day. If picking people apart by people watching is a problem for you, be sure to always have a book to read while out and about so you don't have time to mentally tear their appearances apart. You need to change the way you think, which is extremely difficult, I know. I was raised in a less than healthy environment, so I know a thing or two about how the way you're raised having a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, but that's where it ends. It does not determine who you are. You are a strong girl who can push through the negative that have tainted your mind for far too long. To help get you to where you need to be, to learn how to change your thinking google "cognitive thinking therapy" and get a book (google cognitive thinking book and go to shopping). SMILE. Just smile like a crazy lady all the goddamn time! It will make you look more inviting and prettier, sure, but it will make you feel happier. Studies have shown that even if the smile is fake, it will make you feel happier. This is my own tip: When you start feeling down, watch cat videos on youtube or funny parody videos (search: chat roulette call me maybe) and just laugh and laugh and laugh until you feel happier! You are not defined by your flaws. Always remember that. And you're not the only one who struggles with these issues. Bear in mind that almost every person in the world feels this way to some extent.   You can do this because you're a wonderful person who deserves to see herself as such!
BiWife BiWife 5 years
Bubbles is super correct. I would also add that something you can try is taking your perspective off of yourself some of the time. Introspection is a good thing, but can be overdone and become an obsession or navel gazing. Do some community service, volunteer, reach out to help people in worse situations than you are currently in. It can definitely help bring some perspective to how you feel about your own situation. I've been dealing with clinical depression that creates self-esteem issues along with other symptoms for several years now. Have you been to a psychiatrist to see if there's something besides positive thinking that could help you? As much as I hate recommending pharmaceuticals, I have to admit that the right cocktail of psych medications has made a complete 180 degree difference in my daily life and how I see myself and others. It has taken a few years to get that cocktail correct, but mostly because I went to a general practitioner (normal family doctor you'd see for strep throat kind of thing) and not a psychiatrist (who specializes in the pharmacological therapies). So I highly recommend seeing an actual psych instead of your family doctor to speed up that process - IF you decide to investigate that route. Again, this is ONLY if your issues seem to be at least partly due to chemical imbalance and not just feeling sad. Chemical imbalances can be created if we're depressed/anxious/etc for extended periods of time (a few years or so) because our physical body reacts to our mental state as if it's a physical reality. That said, I think if your current therapist(s) aren't working for you, find a new therapist. The best therapy is found when you can really connect at a deeper level with that person. I've seen a couple of therapists - one told me that my anxiety about coming out was a pity party that I was having for myself and the issue was only as big as I made it. Complete bullpucky, my psychiatrist and my current therapist cannot believe he said that to a patient. My mother said to report him to the state board, but I'm hoping it was just a bad day for him and he's usually much better with clients than he was with me. in general, he was a nice guy, but he totally did not understand my issues. The therapist I'm seeing now is a lesbian in a long-term partnership (31 years now) who has counseled other polygamous/polyamorous couples/groups, so she understands our situation and doesn't have any bias or judgment about it. She was amazing help through my coming out and really gave me a lot of tools to help deal with potentially bad reactions from people that I care deeply about. It's all about finding that therapist who is *right for you*, not the most recommended necessarily or the most expensive or the cheapest, find the person you can open up to best.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
That exercise (3 positive, 3 negative) is a measuring exercise and misses the point. The point is to build experiences that provide you with a sense of 1) accomplishment 2) meaning and 3) joy. If you experience those three things on a regular basis, you will have self-esteem. Accomplishment = generally doing something over and over again until you get some kind of mastery. Is it the right kind of accomplishment to pursue? How much fun is it to talk about it with others as you work on it? That's a big clue. The more "I don't think can't do that!" often the better. You don't win in everything, that's not the point either. Better than you were before can be enough. Meaning = I am important in this world, I belong. To others, to a group, to your spirituality. What do you belong to makes you feel proud, safe and supported? You need to join in and give to belong. Having others say, "It's so great to have you here. It's so great what you contributed to us" is powerful stuff. The spirituality doesn't have to be part of a group. Meditation (listening to God or the Universe, etc. ) and prayer (talking to God) are connectors you can do on your own. Joy = just thinking of doing it gives you a charge of 'woot'! Or a sense of relief 'ahhhhhh'. Or sometimes it comes to you while you're doing something and aren't even pursuing it. What have been your joy moments? Joy is felt in the experiencing. It can be from simple or big experiences. I can't tell you what those things are for you. The discovery is is lifelong and is actually what defines you. But if you're in therapy, I'd ask your therapist to help you identify those if you can't muster it up yourself. And if you can't, please talk to a medical professional about if you're depressed or not. That is a medical issue that would need treatment first. You have a great adventure ahead!
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