15 years ago when I realized that I didn't love myself, I was shocked. If you had asked me if I loved me, I would have said, "Yes, I think so." I had a good job, self confidence, and lots of friends. But I also had an unhappy and toxic romantic relationship, I was headed for a career that wasn't the one I really desired, I lived in a big house in a city I didn't like, and I worked, a lot, often to the point of exhaustion, overwhelm and stress.
I had no idea at the time that all of these outward ways in which I was settling and trying hard to "make it work" -- in relationship, career, and my emotional and physical health -- were connected to a lack of self-love. Since that time I have dedicated a big part of my life to understanding self love, defining it, figuring out how to "do" it, not in theory but in real practical ways that give us the power to make changes on the outside that lead to more lasting changes on the outside.
As a culture we tend to over focus on the symptom and under focus on the root of the challenge. For example, you might have challenges in having healthy happy relationships. You can read all the relationship books in the world but if you don't delve into self love and grow your self respect, self honor and self awareness and honesty, you will likely not create the relationship you really desire.
If you are a person who is confident and has the tendency to go full out for your dreams and in your work, unless you work with the core parts of your self love in self care and self pleasure, you will have a hard time giving yourself rest, relaxation and spaciousness because your self worth is tied to external achievements more than your internal self love.
I've discovered about 50 signs of weak self love that correlate to challenges in our relationships, careers, wealth, health and happiness that has become the basis for a self-love assessment we've been testing and validating with success, and that I feature in my bookMadly in Love with Me.
Below is list of 12 signs of a lack of self-love.
Each sign can be correlated to a specific kind of self-love, i.e., self care, self compassion, self esteem, self empowerment etc. Take a short self love pulse check with yourself, and answer YES or NO to each one to see where you might be lacking self love.
1. Feel overwhelmed and stressed out : (weak self-care and self-worth)
2. Get stuck in unhealthy or unhappy relationships: (weak self-honor, self -respect, self-honesty and self trust)
3. Have no time for fun or feel guilty when not working or doing something productive: (weak self-pleasure and self-worth)
4. Play small, stay stuck in your job, don't live your full potential, doubt yourself: (weak self-empowerment and self-expression)
5. Compare yourself, judge yourself, get critical of yourself: (weak self acceptance and self compassion)
6. Hate on your body, call yourself fat, obsess about your body: (weak self acceptance)
7. Settle in your work and relationships: (lack of self-esteem, self-empowerment self-worth)
8. Get anxious, let fear drive your choices, obsess about things in your mind: (weak self trust and self empowerment.)
9. Make choices that you regret later, or that put you in situations in which you are giving too much, or your boundaries aren't honored: (weak self-trust, self-care, self worth)
10. Are not sure who you are, what you want, and just surf through life or follow the path others have laid out for you: (weak self-empowerment, self-awareness, self-expression)
11. Feel unlovable, unloved, unworthy, like a fraud, and inferior (weak self-worth and self-honor and self esteem)
12. Put pressure on yourself to do more be more have more instead of celebrating what you've done (weak self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-pleasure, self-care and self-worth)
What I have found in my life and those that I have worked with over the years is that if you can start seeing the link between the patterns, habits, situations that don't serve you or that are not what you would like them to be to the different types of self-love (there are 11), you can begin to see the "how" you can start making changes on the inside that will ultimately create the shifts you desire in your relationships, health, wealth, career, and happiness.
This is because when you focus on self-love you get to the ROOT of the situation, which exists inside of you, instead of just treating the symptom on the outside.
Self love is one of the foundations for everything in our lives. And there are real, practical ways to cultivate and grow it, especially when you know where and how you lack it.