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How to Love Yourself When Times Are Tough

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I know you’re suffering. You’re exhausted, anxious, and terribly lonely. Nothing you do seems to matter anymore. You stopped caring for the most important person in the world -yourself. That makes you feel even worse.

The truth is, you’re the only one who can take control of your life right now. To stop the downward spiral, you have to change how you view and treat yourself—self-love results from self-understanding.

Here, I’ll show you five practical steps to understand and love yourself when times are tough. 

1. Stop wrestling with your weaknesses and learn to value and capitalize on your strengths.

If you think you aren’t good enough every time you stumble, your confidence will suffer. You’ll doubt your ability, questioning every action you take, every decision you make. This is how you lose control of your life. Understand most of your failures are circumstantial, which has nothing to do with your skills or intelligence. 

Think about all the brilliant people of our time; they’ve failed, too. The reason they become successful is that they never let circumstances affect their self-confidence. They know their strengths and how to capitalize on their strengths to overcome obstacles. 

Studies have shown that a strength-focused approach can help you grow faster than focusing solely on your weaknesses. To take control of your life, you must know your strengths and use your strengths to tackle the problems you face. 

  1. Think deeply about who you are. What activities excite you? What makes you feel happy just thinking about it? What is your ideal environment?
  2. Reflect on your past experience. What were your proudest moments? How have you overcome difficulties in life?
  3. Ask for opinions about you. What do your family and friends think of you? How do your coworkers describe you? What is the commonality in the range of opinions about you?
  4. Use a strengths assessment tool to verify your findings. Some popular tools are the Myers-Briggs Personality test, the 16 Personalities questionnaire, the Values in Action Signature Strengths test, the CliftonStrengths test, and the High5 test. No matter which one you choose, confirm the test result by reflecting on your past experience. 

2. Define the standard you consider good based on your strengths.

Now that you’ve discovered your strengths, use them to define what is good enough for you. Stop comparing to others in the areas that aren’t your strengths. They’re not the focus of your life. No one is perfect, so you can shove off the burden of trying to be so. 

Build your growth map by studying those who have achieved what you aspire to do and identifying the steps leading to their success. Learn their methods to enhance your strengths and explore creative ways to apply your strengths. The more you grow, the more confident you’ll become, the more caring you’ll be toward yourself.

3. Have a clear goal of what you want and how to get there. 

The past things have changed how people see things. Your old goals may no longer be relevant. Make a list of the people who are the pillars of your universe. Set up a routine schedule to connect and nurture your relationships with them. Think about your lifestyle—what doesn’t serve you and can be eliminated, and what should be added to promote health and growth. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in five to ten years. Does your current job support your career goals? If not, what are some other opportunities available that you can explore? Calculate the minimum expenses for you to maintain a comfortable living and use that number as a bottom line for your financial planning. 

Whenever you make an important decision, consider its impact on your future. It’s crucial that you choose what makes sense in the long run.

4. Develop coping strategies against stress and anxiety

No one is bulletproof. You’re bound to hit roadblocks that make you feel anxious and stressed. The best way to overcome these situations is to have your coping strategies ready. 

If you have trouble calming yourself, try this tactical breathing exercise designed for Navy SEALs, SWAT teams, and police officers to remain calm in high-stress situations. It only takes a minute.

  1. Inhale through your nose to a count of four.
  2. Hold your breath to a count of four.
  3. Exhale through pursed lips to a count of four.
  4. Hold your breath again to a count of four. This is considered one breath.
  5. Repeat the cycle three more times.

Talking about your troubles with someone supportive can make you feel better. If you find it difficult to confide in others, try writing about your feelings on paper. Keeping a journal is the simplest method of self-therapy against stress and anxiety. Research shows expressive writing may ease stress and trauma. It can help organize your thoughts, regulate your emotions, and break free of the endless mental cycling typical of brooding or rumination. 

Stop worrying if you can only write words and phrases at first; no one can read it but you. Name it as your journal of feelings and emotions. Make a habit of describing why you feel that way on paper, and date your entries. Also after months, go back and read your earlier writing; you’ll see how far you’ve gone on the path of healing. 

It also helps to record your small wins. On those especially tough days, reading all your micro-achievements can cheer you up and help you get back on track.  

5. Learn to forgive yourself and be grateful.

Don’t punish yourself if you fail. Everyone makes mistakes. As long as you learn something from each failure, you’re on the right path. You only become good by doing. Failure is the prequel to growth. Change your struggles into knowledge and turn your mistakes into wisdom. 

Learn to forgive yourself and others by looking for the beauty in you and around you. Life is too short to be wasted in negativity. Train your mind to focus on the things you can control; spend your time exploring possibilities to make life better for everyone. Stop taking things for granted. Thank those who have helped you and help them when you can.

Remember, your mind is your compass. What you see dictates how you feel; What you focus on determines what you’ll achieve. Look within you for strengths; look around you for beauty.

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Ivy Gehttps://ivyge.com/
Dr. Ivy Ge is a pharmacy professor, speaker, coach, and author of The Art of Good Enough. She helps individuals and organizations improve satisfaction and productivity.

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