For most of my life, my natural tendency has been to focus on what’s wrong with me. Regardless of the circumstances, I would go right to that dark place that I didn’t like about myself, where all of my insecurities and fears were front and center. Even when I did well at something, or was paid a compliment, I couldn’t take it in. Basically I never felt like I was enough of anything. I wasn’t nice enough, smart enough, motivated enough, attractive enough, happy enough, etc.
Having a base-line of “not enough” made it super easy to focus on those aspects. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the more I focused on what I didn’t like about myself the more those thoughts grew and turned into beliefs. Once the beliefs were set I started behaving in a way that showed those around me how little I liked myself. That behavior led to all sorts of problems in my relationships (work, family, friends, romance, all of the above!) and once that happened it reaffirmed my beliefs, creating a tight feedback loop of negativity and shame that has taken years to undo.
What I know today is that when I focus on what I love about myself more of that comes into my life. I am lighter, happier and more present with myself and others. Interestingly, in order to really change the negative feedback loop I had to start by taking self-love actions. In the beginning it was impossible for me to think nice things about myself, I just wasn’t wired that way. I had to start the transformation process by taking actions to build my self-esteem. Once I did that for a while it slowly gave me a different perspective, one that wasn’t always giving attention to what I was unhappy with in my life.
For many of us that have years and years of jumping right to the negative it can be a daunting task to focus on what we love. I totally get that. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:
is focusing on what we don’t like serving a purpose?
are we willing to try new actions that might be uncomfortable at first in order to tap into self-love?
are we committed to our personal development and do we want to have real love in our lives?
are we willing to face what we dislike in order to gain clarity and move towards love?
None of these questions are easy but they are necessary to answer if we want to live a life centered around love instead of lack. Take action now. Spend a few minutes as often as you can remember today focusing on what you love about yourself. If it’s helpful, write down your most loving qualities on a sheet of paper and keep it a place where you will see it daily. Call a friend and share with them one thing you are really proud of and ask them to do the same. Focusing on what we love isn’t a way of ignoring our pain or the reality that life can be terribly difficult and isolating at times. Focusing on what we love is a way to affirm that no matter what our circumstances we have the power to bring our attention back to love and dwell in that place as long as we choose.