Love yourself. For realz.

Background of red hearts with words that say "How many times per day do you say "I Love You" to yourself?"

How many times per day do you say “I love you” to yourself or practice some form of self-love?

At one point in my life, the answer was simply, “ZERO.” I didn’t. I did the exact opposite and told myself all the ways in which I was unlovable, imperfect, flawed, broken, horrible, unworthy, and helpless. For almost my entire life up until the past few years when I realized that most of those negative and self-destructive thoughts were completely false.

I, like you, am LOVABLE and LOVED, am NOT broken, am NOT horrible, am NOT unworthy, and am NOT helpless. If you noticed, I skipped the word “flawed” because (like you) I have my flaws but they do not make me a bad person or unlovable. My flaws and imperfections not only DO NOT define me, but infact they are perfectly normal. Because nobody is perfect, including you. Can you accept that first? Once you find acceptance in the FACT that you are imperfect, you can start building on the efforts to show yourself some love.

How does this following challenge make you feel just thinking about it: In the morning, go into your bathroom and do your normal tasks…then take 60 seconds to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, (insert your name here).Say it slowly and methodically. Try to convince yourself that you are speaking the truth (because you are).

For many of us, we might not even want to look into the mirror and stare at ourselves, let alone have a talk about love. But it is important. As you say, “I love you” to the mirror, listen to the thoughts that arise. Write them down in your phone or journal and when you have time at a later moment, write something about each one and why you believe it. Then, write down some possible reasons why it may not be true or find a way to reframe it.

For me, I remember looking at the mirror and saying, “I love you Tukayote.” And then my brain was filled with all of the reasons why I shouldn’t love myself. Afterall, I was (and still am) overweight, was a smoker at the time, had (still have) bipolar disorder, my daughters weren’t (and still aren’t) talking to me, I was unemployed, and single. I had/have gray hairs in my beard, and thinning hair on top of my head. I was barreling into my 40s with nothing to really show for it except two failed marriages, and jobs I couldn’t hold down. I was not in the best physical shape and I was severely depressed.

How could I love myself with so many unlovable qualities? Simple, I stopped focusing on the negatives and starting finding things to be grateful for. I sought acceptance. Instead of telling myself that I couldn’t possibly love myself because of these things, I started writing down what others may see to be true. Afterall, despite my hatred of myself, people still loved me. Why? Because they saw who I was deep down inside. A broken man trying his best to get back on his feet. I radically accepted that I was overweight, smoker, bipolar, depressed, estranged from his daughters, unemployed, single, graying, balding, failed marital partner, nothing major to show for my 30’s, etc… How could I possibly see myself differently though? These were all true things!

I decided to reframe my view of myself and find gratitude in everything I hated. Yes, gratitude.

I am an active adult with some extra weight, I am mindful of my activity level and diet, and I am grateful that I have the health that I do for my age; I am a smoker who is seeking resources to stop smoking and I am grateful for the lessons smoking has taught me and for having resources to help stop; I have bipolar disorder, it is well managed because I take my medication and see my doctor on a routine basis, and I am grateful for the medication and treatment team I have; I am depressed but I took the initiative to enroll in a research study that is helping me immensely which I am extremely grateful for; I am estranged from my daughters, I know why, I am never going to go down the same path again, I am taking steps to make myself a better father, one day we will be reunited and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from the experience and for the resources that have helped me cope with the estrangement; I am unemployed and it is a gift (that I am so grateful for) that has allowed me to focus my energy on loving myself and improving the things I struggle with; I am single and although I would prefer companionship, I have full autonomy to be myself and work on myself for which I am grateful (because many people are stuck in controlling, abusive, relationships and can’t seem to escape); I am graying and balding and it is a beautiful sign of aging that I have earned through many stressful moments that I thought would break me–but they didn’t and I am so grateful for that; I failed in my marriages and I am grateful to have learned major lessons from it that made me a better person; and I have nothing to show from the first 7 years of my 30s (even though I have since realized that I have lots to show for it), but there are three more years that I can shape into something better, which I am grateful for.

Acceptance and gratitude turns the frowns upside down.

Bottom line, I sat down and reflected on the messages I was telling myself and found ways to accept the facts and change the narrative by adding gratitude. I changed the messages I was telling myself and continue to challenge any negative messages I have today in the same manner.

I also started reading affirmations to myself each day. I started sharing these with people and learning that I was NEVER ALONE in my struggles. And by sharing my story, other people have been able to start making the changes in their lives necessary to fall in love with themselves.

Loving yourself is hard work and it is totally worth it. Hating ourselves is miserable and affects us mentally and physically. It spills over onto our closest people, friends, partners, and coworkers. Loving ourselves spills over onto everyone who interacts with you. They too feel this love and you are better able to love them when you have love for yourself.

Do you struggle with negativity and self-hate? Do you feel like you are unlovable and unable to love every part of who you are? I can relate and I can help. Lets chat. Contact me here anytime, 24/7. Last, and very important, if you are in crisis or want to talk to someone anonymously, call or text 988 anytime 24/7.

All my love to everyone suffering,

<3 Tukayote <3