top of page

Lead Yourself, with Love

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Discover how authentic self-love, self-care and self-leadership are the keys to empowering your potential.

In my coaching and therapeutic work with women, I am saddened to see how often it’s impossible for women to speak three simple words: “I love myself.”

I use a powerful healing process called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping) that requires clients to say, “Even though ____ (whatever is causing them pain), I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” Many women balk at this. Resistance comes up like a brick wall and they just can’t say it. To take the edge off, I redirect them to say “I’m open to the possibility that I could learn to love myself.” This is more realistic, they can get the words out. This opens a window in their hearts that allows self-love to enter, IF they believe learning to love themselves is important AND they commit to the process.

It’s not just women in coaching or therapy who struggle to love themselves. A 2021 survey commissioned by The Body Shop and conducted by Ipsos found half of women worldwide feel more self-doubt than self-love and 60 per cent wish they had more respect for themselves.

Why do we, as women, have such a difficult time loving ourselves?

The answers could fill a book. I will highlight just a few:

It can be hard to love yourself when you’re female because of attitudes you picked up about your worthiness in the cultural atmosphere. Some call it patriarchy, I call it societally entrenched misogyny. This comes in part from religious teachings that women are inferior, temptresses, the undoing of men. In my generation and older, “good girls” sat with their knees together. It wasn’t proper to like sex and if you did you were “bad”—never mind Mother Nature designed you to love sex. And of course women were not even legally recognized as persons in Canada until 1929, we were “chattels,” property of men. There’s more: being valued for appearance over character; impossible fake beauty standards; socialization to “be nice” and put our own needs last; economic undervaluation of women’s traditional homemaking and child-raising roles.

On top of social conditioning, we have our personal experiences: internalizing parents’ scolding to mean we are not good or worthy; childhood sexual abuse that made us feel ashamed; abusive relationships that stripped of us our sense of worth. You get the idea.

It’s an upstream swim to go from feeling fundamentally bad, unworthy and less-than to truly accepting, loving and celebrating who we are. But it’s a swim we need to make to become the powerful creators Nature made us to be, and to generate the lives of love and abundance we deserve.

In the face of programming that produces ingrained resistance to loving ourselves, it’s important to take baby steps or the resistance will stop you altogether.

It starts with having basic compassion for yourself as a human being who is suffering. You would have compassion for any other suffering being, why not for yourself? Why judge or berate yourself for your lack of perfection, or demand more from yourself than you would ask of anyone else?

Once you connect with compassion for yourself, you have an opening to forgive yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings. When you understand that 90 per cent of your behaviour—including self-sabotage—is based on childhood programming below the level of conscious awareness, it’s easier to forgive yourself.

Look inside to find your inner child, innocent recipient of the programming. See her pain to be living under a burden of self-denial, self-limitation, self-sabotage, even self-destruction. Ask her what she needs from you now, and give it to her. Understanding, kindness, affection. Speak to your inner child as if you are her ideal all-loving mother. It really is a process of re-parenting yourself—not that your parents didn’t love you, but they may not have known how to show their love in a way you could feel and accept.

I once asked a child psychologist what is the most important thing for a parent to do and he said, “Notice the good!”

How would this play out in your re-parenting of yourself?

What do you notice? Do you focus on the good and reward yourself with kind words and experiences, or do you find fault and tear yourself down?

Pay close attention to how you speak to (and about) your adult self. When something unkind comes up, stop yourself. But please do not berate yourself for your unkind self-talk! That is also unkind. Instead, apologize to yourself, remind yourself you did not deserve that, and promise to be kinder to yourself. It helps to recognize that how you think and speak is habitual, and it takes time and effort to change a habit.

Once you make a habit of thinking and speaking about yourself kindly, you will find it easier to open your heart to yourself. From here you can start taking bigger steps, such as thanking yourself when you do something nice for yourself. This starts to produce a virtuous cycle of positive emotions, like appreciating yourself for how hard you work or how good you are at certain things. Caring enough about yourself to set boundaries that protect your time and energy from people who don’t appreciate you and don’t return the same kind of energy to you that you give to them. Caring enough about yourself to stop lying to yourself about the harmful choices you’ve been making, and to make better decisions for yourself, whether that’s in health or finances or relationships. And then respecting yourself for your new decisions.

Do you see how you will start to feel proud of yourself? How shame will release from your being? How your heart will open to loving you?

It is not narcissism, self-indulgence, selfishness or a sense of superiority that leads you to love yourself. It is the recognition that you, like everyone else, are an individual expression of all that is, a divine being, part of the fabric of the universe and deserving of the same care and love as every other part of the fabric of the universe. It is the understanding that you cannot fully express and share the fullness of your divine gifts if you are cutting yourself off at the knees. If you are not there for yourself, you are underpowered and you don’t have much energy to give.

Another key to loving yourself is understanding that love is not just a feeling, it’s an energy that permeates the universe. It’s a frequency you can tune into and embody at a deep level. When you choose to see the world through the lens of love, and let love rather than fear guide how you think, speak and act, you will find that deep love for yourself naturally emerges.

In review: self-compassion, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-respect, self-truthfulness, self-discipline… these are the seeds we plant to grow our self-love garden. Self-appreciation, self-care, self-trust, self-celebration and self-love soon will bloom in glorious profusion. Blessed be!

Reach out to me:

13 views0 comments


bottom of page