Do you want to have more self-love and stop self-criticism? I understand. My self-critic pushed me so far I developed an eating disorder.
To overcome this challenge, I’ve learned and continue to practice 5 promising steps to self-love and stopping self-criticism. They really work!
Changing the judgmental voice in my head to a loving voice helped me overcome bulimia, to believe in myself, build more confidence, and accomplish my goals.
How Do You Stop Self-Criticism?
Thirty years ago, I believed the judgmental voice in my head shouting, “I’m stupid.” “I can’t do this.” “I”m too fat.” I’m not good enough.” The criticisms were constant. When they weren’t words, I had disapproving feelings.
As a result, I developed the eating disorder bulimia, the core of which is self-hate.
Late one night, as I stared at the toilet seat covered in vomit and blood after purging, I’d had enough. Crying and desperate, I drove to the hospital, found a payphone in the lobby, and called the eating disorder clinic on the third floor.
The therapist on call wanted to admit me to the hospital. This arrangement wouldn’t work because of my responsibilities as a self-employed, single mother of two children with disabilities, so the doctor directed me to attend a weekly support group.
Once there, I shared my story with other people. A woman got down on her knees, took my hand, looked into my eyes, and asked, “When are you going to stop being so mean to yourself?”
The reality of what she said struck right to my heart. I burst into tears. She was right. My inner voice was a bully. I cried, deeply hurting from all the years of self-abuse.
I was determined to learn how to be kind to myself and love myself. The eating disorder clinic referred me to a therapist who I talked with every Friday. I attended the support group every Wednesday night, and Overeaters Anonymous, OA, on Sundays.
Through these avenues, I learned steps that I could take to stop criticizing myself and instead start being kind and loving.
5 Promising Steps to Self-Love and Stopping Self-Criticism
1. Accept Yourself and the Situation
How do you learn to accept yourself, others, and your circumstances?
The first step towards accepting yourself is to face the issue of self-criticism.
How do you feel when you look in the mirror? Do you criticize how you look? I did. Constantly!
Accepting this reality, I decided not to look in the mirror until I could look and not say something negative about myself. Avoiding mirrors was a small step that I was confident over time could change and end this torment.
Next, I monitored my thoughts. I halted the negative ones as they began by saying, “Stop!”
My perception about myself slowly began to change as I reduced the negative self-talk. Eventually, I could look in the mirror without criticizing myself.
As your self-esteem improves, you see the positive in situations.
2. Repeat Positive Affirmations
Saying positive kind words to yourself helps build your self-esteem. Try it. When you do this regularly, it works! Drop by drop positive affirmations create ripples of self-confidence and self-love.
At first, saying positive words came in the form of giving myself compliments. I started out small such as “Good job, Debbie.” Even if all I had done were the dishes, I noticed and acknowledged myself.
You might feel silly and insincere at first, but you will feel positive changes happening by continuing to do this.
Your confidence will grow by using affirmations.
Developing self-confidence will help you take the actions to make changes in your life.
Saying positive affirmations to yourself, both in your mind and out loud, every day blocks the critical voice from having so much power over you and damaging your self-esteem. Even if you don’t believe the self-compliments in the beginning, eventually you will. ~Debbie Jorde
When you hear compliments multiple times each day, you build self-worth. When parents didn’t learn self-love as a child, they often speak in a critical voice to themselves and the people around them as adults. Their negative comments condition you to criticize yourself.
When you compliment yourself, eventually the supportive and loving voice you deserve replaces the critical voice in your head.
“You’re doing a good job.”
“Everything is ok.”
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
The next step is to choose to say strong positive affirmations.
“I love you just the way you are.”
“You are perfect right now.”
“I love and approve of you.”
3. Do Mirror Work
After you become comfortable with self-compliments and affirmations, the next step is looking into your eyes in the mirror, as if you are looking into someone else’s eyes. At first, just look at yourself and hold the gaze. Do this in the morning and evening. This is called mirror work.
After you feel comfortable, do this several times each day. Keep in mind that you are still complimenting yourself and saying positive affirmations throughout the day as well.
One day, I was in a store, I saw a beautiful yellow rose. My first thought was, “I should buy this rose for myself.” My critical voice boomed in saying, “It’s $3.50. That’s too much money!”
My higher self-argued, “But I would buy it for someone else.” I knew I would.
I bought the rose and took it home. Standing in front of the mirror, I held the rose next to my face and looked into my eyes. I said, “Debbie, I love you just the way you are.”
My eyes filled with tears. Finally, I could say something kind to myself. My wounded self felt loved. After continuing to do this multiple times every day for months and years, I finally believed it.
I recommend Louise Hay’s book called, Mirror Work.
Mirror work has long been the author, Louise Hay’s signature method for cultivating a deeper relationship with yourself and others, and leading a rich and meaningful life. Now, in Mirror Work, she shows how in just 21 days, you can master this simple but powerful practice as an ongoing support for positive transformation and self-care.
4. Forgive Yourself
After accepting what is happening, saying positive comments to yourself, and doing mirror work, the next step is to forgive yourself.
You are lovable. You deserve forgiveness for your mistakes.
You deserve forgiveness for your mistakes. Be kind to yourself.
Life and the people around you have conditioned you to create this critical attitude towards yourself.
Treat yourself with gentleness. Forgive the people around you for doing and saying things that tear you down.
Forgiving people removes the negetive feelings that blaming them causes you.
You are absolving others to give yourself peace. As you clear yourself of judgments, forgiving others becomes easier.
5. Love Yourself
Having too little self-love can show up in your life in many ways, from being disrespected and taken for granted by people in your life, to sabotaging all your efforts to succeed with your goals
As your self-respect grows, others will respect you too. I learned this to be true with people in both my personal and professional circles.
Set Boundaries to Build Respect
When I was working as a hairstylist, many of my customers were consistently late. I tried to give them their full service in a shorter amount of time, but it was impossible. I ended up stressed and late for every person scheduled after them. This situation inconvenienced a lot of individuals.
One day I asked myself, “What am I doing that is contributing to my customers feeling like they can be late?”
I decided I would set some boundaries. There had to be consequences for being late.
Other people take your lead in how much respect to show you.
To respect myself, I established a new policy. When my customers were more than 10 minutes late, they would have to reschedule. This rule motivated them to be on time. However, I lost time and money when they were late.
Also, rescheduling my late customer’s appointments caused a time crunch for me, so I set a new policy to replace the original one.
If they were late, I did their hair, but only what I could do in the remaining time left in their agreed appointment. I made sure I was punctual for my next customer.Although people who weren’t on time didn’t get their full service, they paid the same price as a consequence of being late.
Another policy I set was that they paid full price for a forgotten appointment or when they rescheduled without giving me 24 hours’ notice, except for emergencies. This rule worked both ways. I did their hair for no charge if they showed up at a previously agreed time, and I wasn’t ready because I made a mistake. My new policies worked! We all ended up feeling more respected. I felt better about myself, and they knew I was careful regarding their schedule because I was ready for our agreed appointment.
Setting boundaries in every aspect of your life, including with yourself, build self-respect, self-trust, and self-confidence. Other people treat you with more respect as well.
Keeping Your Word Builds Self-Respect
People are often good at keeping their word to others, but not to themselves. How often have you said to yourself, “I’ll start the diet on Monday.” or “I’ll exercise tomorrow?” Then, when Monday or tomorrow came, you didn’t do what you promised yourself you would do.
I understand. I’ve done this too. Remembering the consequences helps me follow through. Breaking your word to yourself seems harmless. However, when you don’t keep your commitments repeatedly, it wears down self-trust, confidence, and self-worth.
Think consciously when you commit to yourself. Consider your promise to be a contract. Take steps to help you follow through.
- Set phone/calendar reminders
- Write notes, placing where can be seen
- Prepare a plan and items needed beforehand
- Make sure you have the ability and resources keep your word
- At the end of your day, ask yourself, “Did I do my best today to follow through with self-promises?”
With each promise you keep with yourself, your self-respect will grow. If you don’t succeed, forgive yourself, like you would someone else. You will enjoy many rewards.
Gratitude Creates Self-Love
When you consciously feel grateful for yourself, your talents, and your desirable personality characteristics you build self-love. Feel appreciation for yourself for:
- your perseverance
- your willingness to try
- every success you have each day
- your achieved goals
- the kindness you show yourself and others
- your generosity
- your role in your family
- details you love about your body
- your work ethic
- just getting through the day
This list can go on and on! Be grateful for everything that makes you feel even the smallest bit good about yourself. Focus on these, and your self-love will grow.
You deserve to feel and experience self-love, enjoy success, and have more joy in your life.Click to tweet
Building self-love stops self-criticism and replaces it with positive self-talk. You are then able to live each moment of every day with your best friend and devoted cheerleader. Everywhere you go, whatever you do, you have someone by your side who loves you and believes in you.
Maintaining Self-Love is Like Watering Flowers
Like plants and flowers require water, fertilizer, and the sunshine to grow well, building and maintaining self-love calls for consistent efforts to stay strong and keep growing.
Stopping self-criticism is the first important step to creating self-love. Take time each day to appreciate all of the good things in your life, including your achievements.
Choose to do the best you can at that given moment. When you know that you did your best, you realize that nobody, including yourself, could have asked any more of you.
- Accept yourself.
- Say positive affirmations.
- Do mirror work.
- Love yourself.
- Forgive yourself
There are also additional activities you can do to create and strengthen self-love.
Read, Watch, and Listen to Positive, Uplifting Materials
There are many positive sources to use and things to do to lift your mood when you’re down. They also help you find inspiration to achieve your goals, gain an appreciation for what you have, teach you what you want to learn and feel happier.
Feeling happy helps keep self-love strong. Doing more activities that you enjoy, every day helps you feel good.
By reading, watching, and listening to positive, feel-good materials, you can maintain self-love and love of life. One of my favorite activities is hearing inspiring, motivating, or entertaining as I exercise and do chores.
A variety of sources includes audio books, talks on YouTube, Ted Talks, or fun movies all streamed on your phone or iPad while using a hands-free device.
You can accumulate a list of your favorite authors. One of my favorites is Anita Moorjani. She teaches about the importance of loving yourself.
Remember, You Are Magnificent
In 2009, after doctors diagnosed me with having MS, my spirits needed lifting a lot of the time. I found Anita Moorjani’s book, Dying to Be Me. Anita strongly reminds people to, “Remember Your Magnificence.“
In her second book, What if this is Heaven? Anita gives detailed steps you can take to help you remember and experience how powerful you are.
Anita’s website is http://anitamoorjani.com/
While listening to her book (at least five times), along with her audio courses, and talk show interviews, my mind filled with positive words instead of negative self-talk and worry. Each time I listened to her, my perceptions and thoughts improved.
I was able to get through that difficult time using optimism, courage, hope, an abundance of self-love, and gratitude.
Some of Anita’s suggestions that have helped transform my perceptions:
- Love yourself unconditionally
- Be yourself fearlessly
- Be aware of your inner self-talk
- How we feel about ourselves is more important than positive thinking
- Be honest with yourself and your feelings; don’t suppress or bottle yourself up
- Don’t give away your power
- Turn within for answers
- Follow your own unique path (which is different from everyone else’s)
- Love every part of yourself (ego, intellect, body, spirit)
- Enjoy yourself
- Don’t take life too seriously
- Laugh often, especially at ourselves
- Look at the emotions behind everyday decisions and actions. Do things based on a passion and a zest
for living; avoid doing anything out of fear
“You Can Heal Your Life,” Author, Louise Hay
In closing, Louise Hay is another personal growth author and speaker who has had a positive impact on my journey to self-love.
I also recommend watching her movie.
Here’s a book for the children in your life,
Louise Hay’s website is http://www.louisehay.com/