Episode 44: How to Love Yourself More

You know what the perfect Valentine is that every person is just dying to receive?  It’s an “I love you, from ME to ME.”  Wait, did you think I was going to say “ I love you from YOU to ME?” Well, in today’s podcast episode, we’re talking about the gift of love that only we can give to ourselves.

Every day, I work with people who need more love in their life, and I’ve found there’s a special kind of love that we all need, and it doesn’t matter if we have a lot of other people in our lives or not. Without this love, we still feel a kind of painful loneliness that’s hard to get rid of. 

Of course, we are talking about self love.

Whether you feel full of self-love or you feel rather empty, you are the only one who fills your love tank throughout your life. Most of us just aren’t very good at that. So today, we’re talking about how to love yourself more- and the surprising little steps that can take you a long way to getting more of that sweetness in your life. 

What you will learn on this episode:

– The importance of self-love and how it affects our lives, loneliness, and relationships.

– The concept that self-love is inherent and can be obscured but reignited through consistent acts of care.

– The question “What would I do if I loved myself more?” to identify self-care actions.

– The significance of small, daily gestures in strengthening the connection to oneself and fostering self-love.

– How to listen to our inner wisdom and find a loving voice amidst the critical ones.

– The comparison between how we love our children and how we can learn to love ourselves.


*This transcription below was provided for you or your convenience; please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.

Hi, friends, and happy Valentine’s Day if you’re listening to our podcast on the day this episode drops, and happy day to you if you’re listening later, when it’s not Valentine’s Day. 


I had another episode recorded that had nothing to do with love and Valentine’s and all of that, but I’ve had an interesting weekend. I guess I’ve had the flu or some kind of nasty virus. I’ve spent three or four days completely in bed just trying to recover. You can hear that in my voice. I was a little hesitant to record today, so hopefully it will last. As I was laying there being dutifully careful and taking care of myself, I thought a lot about how we take care of ourselves and, ultimately, how we love ourselves. I wanted to share with you this episode very short and sweet, probably all my voice will be able to handle. I think it will be very applicable on this day and actually every day, because it has to do with how we actually love ourselves. 


Every day, I’m working with people who need more love in their life. These people may be married with partners and children, or single with friends and family surrounding them. One thing I’ve found is that there’s a special kind of love that we all need, and it doesn’t matter if we have a lot of other people in our lives or not. With this love, we still feel a kind of painful loneliness that’s hard to get rid of. I had a really sweet conversation a bit ago with a wonderful woman who asked me how can I learn to love myself more? It was such an earnest question, coming from a lot of pain she’s dealt with over the years and she’s so strong, the things she’s accomplished in her life are amazing, and the way she loves and gives to others is really equally amazing. I don’t think you’d ever look at her and think, man, she is just struggling inside Because she doesn’t look like she is. She’s really put together, but inside there is a space that is missing for her. The space can only be filled by her love for herself, and she’s had a hard time getting that filled. 


I work with a lot of people who are walking around with that empty space and I see people doing a lot of things to fill that space. A lot of relationships are pursued in effort to fill that space. I think, and loving someone else, being in love with someone else, is amazing. It’s so good. But so many times I’m working with couples who are looking for their partner to fill that space inside of them, to make them feel deeply loved, to feel whole as a person, and unfortunately we hear about that in fairy tales and movies that other people are the ones that complete us, when actually that space within us really is earmarked only to be filled by love for ourselves. No one can really fill that space but us, so it becomes a bit of a setup where a partner is trying to do something that isn’t possible and often times both people in that situation feel the pressure and the conflict and it can get really confusing and quite hard. Another way we try to fill our empty love space is through accomplishments, getting praise from others, earning our worth and maybe just feeling like we earn it ourselves. And I see people striving and striving, moving into perfectionistic thinking and living in order to fill that space, and sometimes it feels like loving ourselves is a kind of reward if we do a good job. Another way people fill that space is by food, gambling, alcohol, drug use, porn technology, gaming, social media really anything that distracts us from feeling empty. It’s hard to imagine that all these struggles could be related to the same thing, right, but I think they are, which is probably kind of good news, because that space inside of us that gets empty can absolutely be filled by us. 


So let’s talk a little bit about this. What is the space that we all have that needs to be filled by our own self-love? I really think this is the core of our humanity that as a baby, you were born with goodness and wholeness. That can’t be questioned. Babies know this. I mean, I don’t think they know. Know it from a brain perspective, they know it from a being perspective. They don’t hesitate to cry when they feel something or smile or respond to others. They are lacking self-awareness, which we just discussed in the last episode, which means they don’t yet have the capability to think about their thinking or look deeply inside themselves. They’re just beautifully, simply present and hopefully parents respond to them and take care of them and reflect to them how beautiful and important they are. 



Sometime between 15 and 24 months, children start to become more self-aware. That means we, as children, started to become self-aware as we grew and we start to notice that we’re different from other people and learn that we might have feelings that differ from others and preferences different than others. And research shows that once young children reach this level of self-awareness, new emotions like embarrassment, envy and self-criticism emerge, right along with empathy and self-appreciation. So that’s the time when little people like our children and us when we were little, we start to experience the full range of thinking about who we are. As parents, you guys, we are really the leaders for our children, to help them sort through all of these feelings and to provide a steady diet of acknowledgment and care and responsiveness and love. So our children learn where they fit into the world, especially as far as being lovable. 



And as our children grow, their job is to retain that kind of connection to themselves as a foundational bit of knowledge that’s going to become very important for them in their life. So as parents, man, we have an important job. All we have to do is treat our little ones with respect, kindness and patience as we raise them, and they will be able to see themselves as being worthy of all those things as they become an adult. That sounds simple, but it’s also kind of complicated, right, because we’re trying to keep ourselves together over here as we’re parenting, not losing our cool or getting frustrated as we’re tasked with this really big job for our kids. And this is why I’m passionate about what I do, why I’m talking to all of you right now, because wherever you are in your life, whether you’re a mother or a father, a grandparent, if you’re single and not a parent at all, or maybe you’re still a kid, maybe you’re a teenager I know now that we have a lot more listeners to this podcast than just parents, which is very humbling to me that you all would take your time to study resilience with me here. 



But wherever you are, this concept applies to you because you’ve been that baby fully whole, valuable and wise and you’ve grown up, or in the middle of growing up, trying to find your place in this big world, getting feedback from other people that sometimes really warm and supportive, like the ideal that we want our kids to experience, and often having experiences that can be really cruel and traumatic. And our inner place of knowing that we are lovable, that we’re whole and valuable well, it can get dinged and even crushed by the things that happen to us. It could be big tea traumas like physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but it can also be what we call small tea traumas feeling left out, having some comparison where we didn’t kind of measure up, maybe having some mean girls around us when we’re in middle school that tell us we’re not thin enough or pretty enough. Heck, now we don’t even need mean girls. Our teens look at their social media every day and see all sorts of images and ideals they compare with. So I don’t want to get sidetracked on social media. We’ll go there soon, but not today. 



I’m also not going to try to focus on all the things that can happen to us that make our inner spaces feel so empty, those traumas these are the big tea traumas and the little tea traumas that affect us, and we can talk more about that later too, and this is where maybe even working with a therapist who’s skilled can really help unravel some of that pain. I just want to kind of paint a picture of how broad the experiences are that we have as we’re growing up and our children are experiencing that do have effects on us, and I think if we can understand that that might be why we feel a disconnect from that space inside of us, it can help us know where to go next. What I want you to focus today on is considering how to fill that space in you by you, because whether you feel full of self-love or you feel rather empty, only you can be the one who tends to it, to fill it and keep it full throughout your life, and most of us just aren’t very good at that. Most of us have a really active inner critic that talks to us in our heads. Our voice tends to be louder than our inner wisdom because of our brain’s automatic attention to the negative in order to keep us safe. Think about it if you walked into a room today and someone on your left comes up and says you aren’t safe here, and then someone comes up on your right and says you’re perfectly safe here, which one do you feel compelled to listen to? If I’m not absolutely sure of my safety, I’m going to feel compelled to listen to the voice that wants me to check it out. I’m going to put my attention on the things that might be dangerous, because if I don’t, if I’m wrong, then I’ve just left myself exposed. And this is exactly how our brain works. It has a hard time listening to the love and the safety. First, it almost always defaults to the threat, which can become a big problem for us as far as feeling self-love. But we can train our mind to listen more to our inner wisdom and find and feed the voice that tells us that we are safe and that we’re good enough and especially that we’re lovable and we don’t have to get rid of the other voice and you probably couldn’t if you tried At least. The more attention you put on it, the louder it gets. But when we decide which voice serves us better and which one we want to get stronger, then we’re starting to make a difference in how much we hear and pay attention to that voice. 



When I explained this to the woman that asked me that question how do I love myself more? She kind of looked at me like huh, and I get it. This is kind of an abstract concept so we have to make it more concrete. So I asked her this question when you think of having love for yourself, what comes to your mind? What feelings are you imagining? What kinds of things would you do when you felt love for yourself? Her immediate answer was I would talk much kinder to myself. Like she didn’t even blink, she didn’t pause, she didn’t even have to think about that, she didn’t even look at me immediately to her. I often ask this question to people when we’re working on this self-love, so sometimes people call it self-esteem how we look at ourselves, how we feel about who we are. When I ask the women I work with this question, I get a variety of answers. So as I give you a few of the answers as an example of what I get from the people I ask this question to, I want to ask you that question when you think of having love for yourself, what comes to your mind, what feelings are you imagining. What kinds of things do you do when you feel that love for yourself? Here are some of the answers I get. 



If I loved myself, I would be able to sleep at night. I would feel more peaceful. I’d forgive myself more, I’d talk to myself with more kindness and have more patience. I could let myself really feel loved by someone. If I loved myself, I’d say no to more things I really don’t want to do. I’d stand up for myself. I’d say yes to things I really want to do but I’m kind of afraid to. I wouldn’t put up with the way my boss treats me, my parents treat me, my friends or my partner treats me. I’d get more sleep. I’d eat breakfast. I’d buy myself flowers. Sometimes I would just slow down. 



These are just a few things I’ve heard people say to me in the past few months, and I think it’s pretty amazing to consider that we can sometimes see something we want, like we’re on one side of a river and across the river, there on the other bank, are the things we would have if we could let ourselves, or we could find a way there, if we could love ourselves in some way in order to get those things. What a cool idea. I think it’s super hopeful because once you can start to see that there’s a space between you and having what you deeply desire, then there’s a vision of getting across that space, getting across the river. So this woman said well, how do I learn to love myself? And I like to make a correction to that question how do we remember how to love ourselves? Because the truth is, you came into the world knowing and I don’t believe that will ever go away it just gets covered up sometimes. 



Sometimes we have those hard things happen to us, those traumas, both big T and little T traumas, and we get disconnected from that feeling of love for ourselves. But here’s the thing All we need to do is recognize that we’re disconnected and the connection actually begins. Instead, what we usually do is say it’s gone and I don’t know if it will ever exist again and I probably will never get it. We go into this panicky fortune telling and that’s part of the disconnection. The truth is it’s never gone, it’s inherent. Just desiring some more love for yourself is enough to get it going. So what I tell people is to consider that we need to look for the love, even when we don’t always feel it. When you hear that critical voice in your head, just know she’s one voice and there’s another that’s more loving and supportive. You may not be able to hear her as loudly, but it helps to know that she’s there and that you can start to listen for her. 



Here’s another question what are things you would do if you felt more love for yourself? It’s kind of like the first question, but it may be dialing it down to something that would give you a little bit of an action step for you to practice feeling love for yourself. Would you go to bed a little earlier? Would you slow down and read a book you’ve wanted to read? Take time to eat lunch, maybe listen to yourself, talk and consider rephrasing it in a way that you might say things to your best friend. Maybe you write down three things that are important to you and prioritize them in your week or your month. 



If you enjoy the outdoors or exercise or watching movies or making something delicious in the kitchen, schedule it, let yourself enjoy it. Reach out to people you know or want to know and connect, or turn off the noise for a few minutes each day and sit on the back porch or take a nap or play the piano or do something that you enjoy doing. These are little acts of love that you can do, even if you don’t always feel a strong sense of connection and love for who you are. Yet Most people think those things are too small of drops in a bucket. How big of a drop is eating breakfast? So what if I take 10 minutes and sit outside in the sun? How is that going to move the needle toward loving myself? 



We continually underestimate the power of our minds, our bodies and our spirits. This is how we build or should I say rebuild our connection to ourselves. It’s not in massive explosions of awareness and understanding and eureka moments. It’s in tiny acts of love and service. Think about how you love your babies, whether they be brand new or whether they be in college or beyond. Did that tight-knit feeling of love that you have for them come in one glorious explosion, or did it come in tiny acts of connection and service throughout their entire life? I get so excited about this stuff, you guys, because we don’t need to do crazy, hard, big things to build that sense of connection with ourselves. We actually just need to do small, tiny acts of service and connection and listening and loving of ourselves, and it moves the needle, it fills the empty space. 



It can feel easy sometimes and sometimes, I’ll admit, it can feel really hard. But it doesn’t have to be done in a day or a week. We’ve got a lifetime to learn more about ourselves and reinvent ways to connect with who we are at every stage of our life. So if you’ve had some really painful and hard things happen in your life, it may feel more difficult and it may be helpful to reach out for support by working with someone who’s trained in working through trauma. The end goal of trauma treatment is always a reconnection to the self, putting a new meaning on the hard things so that you emerge with a more powerful and ultimately safer vantage point in your life. So if this feels crazy hard so hard that it feels paralyzing that’s when you know you need some more support. You need some help with it. But even small acts of love and service for ourselves can bridge that gap. We all need this kind of love and our kids need it. 



This is a great thought. We can learn to love ourselves, relearn to love ourselves, by watching our children, paying attention to the thoughts we have about our kids, how generous you are with them as they try new things and sometimes fail and have to try again. Listen to your inner story about their loveability and then let yourself realize that you’re no different than your children. We’re just a little bit older, right, but we’re still as valuable and lovable as they are. There is so much more that we can do to build connection with ourselves. 



We don’t have the time to talk about it all here today and I don’t know that my voice is gonna last much longer. But if you do have time this week, consider going back and listening to episode number three on your true identity. It’s a reminder of the deep, foundational truth that anchors us in resilience. It’s a gift, it’s our birthright that we are whole, valuable and wise and that nothing we do, nothing others do to us, can change that. You know I replay that truth, that knowledge, in my mind nearly every day because I need it to hold me through the stress of life and all the comparisons and the hard things we deal with on a daily basis. It helps me handle the hard and it will help you too. 



Deep inside, I know you hold love for you because it’s built into you. It’s a great adventure hunting that treasure in our lives If you don’t feel connected to it right now, trust that it’s there. I’ve seen it thousands of times women reconnecting and letting that love fill the space that feels so empty inside of them. You may get tired at times because, let’s be honest, life can kind of feel like it’s beating us up a bit, but never give up seeking that birthright of yours Whenever it feels far away. Just imagine doing the things you would do if you could feel it, and you will begin to feel it Well. 



My friends, I love you and I’m grateful we can have these thoughts and keep stretching our hearts to grow and make more space for loving ourselves so that we can love and lead our children. Thank you for spending time with me today and I will talk to you all next week. Take care. The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again and take care. 

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This