Self-love isn’t just a feeling – it is a practice. Just like any other loving relationship, it takes presence and mindful attention. For sensitive people, when confronted with social situations, it’s often easy to slide back into habits that sabotage our sense of self-love and self-worth. Here are some things you can do that can help you in your practice:
- Minimize self-deprecation. People often self-deprecate to find social acceptance or to deflect criticism. And when used sparingly, there’s nothing really wrong with it and is more of a social lubricant than anything else. However, if you are reflexively and habitually self-deprecating, then it’s important to look at why you are doing that with some honesty. Do they come from real beliefs you have about yourself? Are you using it as a tool to ingratiate yourself with people who seem to always be slightly disapproving of you?
- Stop apologizing for your feelings. “I’m just feeling sad now, I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry, I’m just frustrated.” No, you have nothing to be sorry about. You feel what you feel. Period. However, that isn’t a carte blanche for you to vent it all out on an unsuspecting stranger without warning or discernment. Not apologizing for your feelings simply means you can choose instead to take the responsibility of acknowledging how you feel, and take time out for self-care if needed. “I’m feeling sad now, I need a moment. / I can’t talk now, I may regret something I say. / I need some time alone.” That is very different from saying sorry so that someone could possibly 1. Validate your feelings or to 2. Feel like you are inconveniencing them. Just skip the apology – acknowledge how you feel, and you will know what to do from there.
- Stay away from people who agree with you when you self-deprecate or apologize for your feelings. This is poignant to me because I hung around people I admired because I thought they were not like me (i.e. they are not highly sensitive). I admired them for their steely control and mastery over their emotions – because I thought my depth of feeling was a weakness, I attributed strength to their seeming bravado. In hindsight, it was because I couldn’t find self-acceptance – so I merely attracted people who mirrored this lack of self-acceptance within myself back to me. I used to get upset about why they were being ‘mean’ to me – but it’s important to know that the power lies within you. You truly create your world. You pull people into your orbit who reflect what you think about yourself back to you. So once you no longer self-deprecate or put yourself down, you are on the path of self-acceptance – and you will no longer want to be around people who are not aligned with your sense of self-worth. (And then you will start to notice how some people will not hesitate to condone or even encourage your smallness so that they can feel good about themselves!)
- Don’t take it personally. Realize that only people who are uncomfortable with their own feelings will seek to dismiss, minimize or make fun of yours. Because that’s how they treat their own feelings! And if they routinely project their own discomfort with their emotions onto you, it’s wise to reconsider the amount of time you spend with them and be more selective about what you do share with them. Of course, push back and make your boundaries clear – and they will learn how to speak to you, because you are no longer tolerating disrespectful or hurtful speech.
- Watch your self-talk. In the end, it does all come back to you and the responsibility you are taking for how you talk to yourself. It starts with an awareness of all the harmful messages that you are consuming from the media, from the people you grew up with, from cultural norms – and slowly de-programming your mind from self-critical messages. It doesn’t mean that you blind yourself to mistakes. The difference is, when you do notice a mistake, all you do is gently correct yourself without self-judgement and move on. That’s it.
This is a process, and it takes time. But taking these steps is guaranteed to instantly change how you feel about yourself! Your words affirm your thought processes – by watching how you speak about yourself, out loud to others or silently in your head, you are relearning how to treat yourself right.
Be good to yourself ♡