“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
When it comes to self-esteem and self-love, I suck.

There it is.

Often, the first thing I say about myself is how much I fail.

We’ve all heard that voice, the one that pecks at your flaws and misgivings like a chicken.. It pecks and pecks and pecks until that horrible person comes out and screams at the top of their lungs.

Let me present your worst enemy: the one and only you!
It’s that voice that drives you crazy every single day; the one who tells you your colleagues don’t like you and that’s why they never invite you anywhere. It is the voice that thinks you’re fat and don’t deserve to be loved; the one that brings you down all the time. That little, yet powerful voice inside you says that you’re at fault when something is wrong with the world around you.

We all know that voice, don’t we?

There are a ton of different reasons we might hate ourselves.
Maybe someone instilled it during your childhood. Perhaps it was your first boyfriend who only wanted to claim your virginity, and after he did, he cheated and lied and cheated and lied. Maybe a parent who only brought you down became that voice inside. Anyone or anything could have caused that enemy inside your mind.

The reason the voice exists isn’t important. What is important is that you find that sucker and face it head on. You must dive into every dark corner of your soul and squeeze all that negativity out: all the blame, all the regret, all the pain.

Not sure how to stomp out your own worst enemy? Here’s how I started my journey towards self-love.

1. Write it all down.

What caused your self-hatred? What happened to make you feel so unworthy? Who broke down your self-esteem? Take time to reflect on your past and really analyze how you ended up where you are now. Try journaling or drawing out a timeline of your life. The first step towards change is discovering what brought you to the present version of yourself.

2. Show yourself some compassion.

Replace that inner critic with a kind and compassionate voice. It’s no walk in the park, but give it a try. If it’s hard, try imagining talking to a child or someone you love. You wouldn’t be so harsh and negative towards someone else, so try to give yourself the same grace.

3. Think before you act.

And I don’t mean silly stuff like “Look where you step,” or “Don’t forget to wash your hands after visiting the loo.” “Think before you act” means analyzing if your actions manifest self-love. If you love yourself, would you binge drink, stay in a dysfunctional relationship, or physically harm your body? I don’t think so.

4. Get to know yourself intimately.

You think you know yourself? I mean, you’ve been with your own body and mind for over 20 years now, so how can you not know yourself?

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t really know yourself at all…. but you will.

Right now, you don’t realize that every time you see a gorgeous guy, you automatically assume that he would never go for you. You don’t realize that the way you treat others isn’t always your fault, but rather what you learned from your parents decades ago. You don’t always see the ways you mistreat yourself that make absolutely no sense at all.

5. Change the story you tell yourself.

Easier said than done, I know. I’ve been trying to change my own narrative for a long time. I read every self-help book I find and journal until my fingers bleed. I’m intelligent and strong, but when it comes to not being hard on myself, I’m a slow learner.

The journey to self-love is never ending. It’s a constant battle that we all struggle with at times. But, just because it’s hard and we don’t always get it right, we’re never failures.

You’re probably expecting me to end this with a quote about failure by someone famous, but I’d rather quote myself.

So, here I go…

“Failure is an illusion. We color our own lines. You can color it black, or you can color it pink. It is your own damn choice. ‘Failure’ is just a small dot on the learning curve of life.”

Photo by Anastasia Vityukova on Unsplash

Originally published on Unwritten