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How to Love Yourself, Even if No One Else Does

How to Love Yourself, Even if No One Else Does

First, the second part of that title isn’t true. You either forgot who loves you, or need to find more people who do.

But there may be times where you feel alone and depressed — just about everyone has spells like that, or is strong enough to admit it. It’s not easy to talk about, but loneliness, feeling unwanted, and even self-hate from time to time is extremely common. If your hermiting drags on for weeks, you’ll want the help of healthcare experts, but if it’s not so severe and happens on occasion, here’s some vibrant and practical suggestions for you:

Gather a “praise pile”

Ideally, you’ll want to do this before you’re in a downer — it serves as a life preserver when you’re in the “eye of the storm”.

Compile the love you’ve felt: a handwritten note from your Mom, a photo of you and your best buds at the lake together, and awards you’ve won. They don’t have to be recent — recognition spans your whole life. And they don’t have to be physical, either; I’ve used the Firefox ScrapBook add-on to do what its offline analogue does: clip and save kind words from others. Like my Lifehack comments. ;)

So when I feel like I’m not being cared about, I take a quick look at the “praise pile”, and put what’s happening in perspective: others have cared about me before, and they will again. And perhaps most importantly, by realizing this, I care about myself. This is a process and never happens immediately. One can’t instantly “snap out of it”. It “takes time”, as the trite-but-true saying goes. But oh, how true it is.

According to How to get Rich, Donald Trump keeps a box of mementos much as what I’ve described. He sure seems like he loves himself a lot.

Give up on something worth dropping

Burdens are bedfellows with loneliness. Some people who’d like to have more of a social life are crushed by the rat race, or their own compounded fears which hold them back. By dropping what I often call “slop” (waste unnecessary to your enjoyment of life), it frees you to take on more meaningful things (keep reading!). Less worry means more freedom to self-explore and pursue interests.

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Why does this sound so obvious? Because it is. But it may only be during a time of emotional inner turbulence that you can summon the strength to unchain yourself.

Don’t overthink — that makes it worse. If you watched the recent Olympics in Beijing, notice how many top athletes (gymnasts in particular) have such a fluid momentum that you might wonder if they’re thinking consciously at all. As any great performer knows, and as controversial as “muscle memory” may be, repeated practice leads to what’s dubbed “second nature”, or a threshold surpassed in which analyzing evolves to intuition based on past experiences.

When you find yourself especially stressed or anxious, those are otherwise-unpleasant moments you can use to your advantage. Especially if you’re crying and in a lot of anguish, determine in a flash what’s worth keeping, and visualize it like this: you are a burning building. If you could rush into yourself and save only a handful of things to take to a new you, what will they be?

Write them down, and set the list aside until you feel more rational. Then look at it again, and join your thoughts of the now with what you had felt then. This can be a potent truth-revealing exercise and puts you on the right track.

Find something new worth fighting for

By “fight”, I refer not to violence. Rather, I speak of a cause you can champion and stand up for. The “fight” here is versus adversity. Your cause may be a charity that improves others’ lives, or even a campaign to save a TV show. Notice how these purposes require others to get involved — they’re inherently social, and even though you may not think about so much about that (and shouldn’t), they’ll lead to you interacting with others, feeling less lonely.

Being recognized as a maverick and a leader isn’t a deliberate process you need to set up like a goal. Rather, the goals here are more about the innate satisfaction and happiness you’ll feel.

A couple examples from my experiences: when I felt snobs were scaring away novices from enjoying electronic music, I spoke up against them, serving as a pillar of light for new fans. I wrote reviews and guides, increasing techno music’s accessibility. The adulation felt awesome. And more recently in a professional capacity, I’ve connected knowledge resources for the virtual world of Second Life, helping our community to have happier experiences. I began as a fan, and came to love what I do (and myself) so much that I ended up working for the company.

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Growth is like that — you may not know where you’ll precisely end up, but you should always be passionate about growth and know where you want to head. Even if it’s not a single direction, mixing disciplines and skillsets will create a unique fusion that no one else has, and that’s a strong reason to love your uniqueness.

Celebrate your similarities AND differences

Too many people make the mistake of singling out what’s common or how they’re different. This is defective, too-filtered thinking, because success is neither wholly familiar or alien: it’s both. All of us are humans and subject to emotions. By consequence, all of us have problems — but some of us deal with them more effectively than others. We are all variations on a common theme.

If you’re concerned about body image, it’s good for all humans to be healthy. But it’s unachievable to duplicate someone else’s figure — Jocelyn Wildenstein taught us that with her approximation of a cat. After perusing existing possibilities, you need to do what’s right for you (including Jocelyn — if she’s happy, that’s what matters) and being inspired by someone isn’t the same as cloning them: it’s taking your hero’s “recipe” and improvising a new mix with it.

Be brave about what you really like

I used to get dirty faces when I opined how much I liked Britney Spears’ song, “Toxic“. I’m fond of the slick music video coupled with the angular strings and slammin’ beats. Britney’s voice wasn’t bad, either. I don’t approve of her recent lifestyle choices, but true to my heart, that song was a masterpiece!

Many people have secret “guilty pleasures”, be they pop songs or other recreational activities. If it does no harm to your health and well-being, why must it be guilty? Strip away the “layers of mindfat” and be earnest. This prepares you to meet other likeminds (as opposed to “lowminds”, who don’t contribute to your interests).

Here’s the problem: so many of us, even those who are no longer teens or in college, live under the specter of “peer pressure”. We’re afraid we “won’t fit in” if we speak to the contrary. And especially if we dig something that’s popular, we’ll be subjected to redundant reminders like “Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good”.

You need not get into wasteful wordwars and endless debates about the merits of something. If you feel a certain other person or group repeatedly opposes what you care about and that’s regularly getting you down, then spend more time with people who do share your appreciation. The Internet is laden with all manner of subcultures and microcliques, so even if you’re geographically-challenged, it’s possible to find others you connect with.

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We infact live in an era of social networking saturation, so I approve of trying various tools and simply sticking with what you use regularly — doing reveals being, and you may just clowning around… but hey! you’re in this together.

Furthermore, some minor threads expand grossly when more people speak up about how much they like ’em, e.g., how Gaia Online and deviantART have expanded from tiny niches to nourish vast anime communities. Investing in your happiness is like playing the stock market: subject to fluctuation, but hopeful for long-term growth.

Be a little more selfish

Selfishness is always bad, right? Of course not! (What’s up with these lame generalizations?) Some people are prone to giving too much to others and not feeding themselves, so if this is you, you need to adjust. My wife once shared her meat story with me, which is a delicious, terse tale about feeding yourself, and being careful who you give your “meat” (yourself, essentially) to.

You need to be strong before you can strengthen others. It’s true that in giving to others, you may experience a positive feedback loop of joy, but you need something to start that off.

Feeling your own dreams are denied because you’re always supporting others? Let them know what you want to pursue, and if they’re quality people, they should come to collaborate on yours in-kind.

Love flows both ways in the best relationships.

Adapt, evolve, iterate

A single word, and a powerful one, with linked notions like “evolve” and “iterate”! I’m a genre geek, so I’ve got to mention the beast who killed Superman, Doomsday. If you’re not familiar with his backstory, he was an alien creature who was subject to repeated death, reincarnated repeatedly to adapt to harsher conditions (and more death). He evolved to a level where he could, well, murder Supes. Less-gruesome variations on this theme can be found in Stargate SG-1‘s Replicators and The Incredibles‘ Omnidroid.

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For some reason, I can’t think of any heroic examples at the moment, so you’ll want to be the opposite of the aforementioned: emotions come in cycles, and each time you go through feeling unloved, benefit from it. Go deep inside your head and familiarize yourself with why you feel this way, what triggers it, and when this is most likely to happen. By learning you, you’ll have better control over the cause-and-effect of your unhappiness. Extreme cases require medical treatment, but in the vast majority of instances, you have, or will adapt to have the power to do something substantial.

Write a guide helping others

Here we are — the self-referential part! Yet, sharing experiences is valuable. If you have a blog, or even make a comment on someone else’s blog, you may help others. And they may let you know — I hope so!

Save that feedback in your “praise pile”. You’ll need it for a rainy day, to remind you of the good you’ve done.

Don’t ever think “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t know enough”. Having struggled with pain, you’re good enough. Having experienced suffering, you know all about it.

With all the talk about “believing in yourself”, that should never be taken in a vacuum. Each one of us is influenced in positive and negative ways by external forces, and our lives are never static. The balance is dynamic, our moods shifting by day, or even by hours. What we choose to expose ourselves to and participate in is a large deterministic factor on our world outlook, and this is especially true in an age where more people choose what news they’ll watch, not because it reports with objectivity, but because it tells them what they want to hear. (A topic I may expand on later.)

Writing a guide — even if it’s a few self-confessional paragraphs — provides self-validation, too. Simply “getting it out” makes you feel better, and based on what I said above, don’t waste attention on those who don’t appreciate your bravery. Gravitate to those who do.

Ultimately, it’s initially hard to “pull yourself out” when you’re feeling kicked like a stray dog. But this is why I shared the above — there’ve been times where I was sure everyone hated me, but then I realized (with increasing strength over the years) that this was just a temporal lie, my fallible emotions playing a nasty trick.

I rode through the proverbial storm with “praise pile” in hand, discovered new things about myself along the way, and went through that cycle enough times to arrive where I’m at today. That’s why I’m sharing this with you.

How do you love yourself? Let me know in the comments!

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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