Learning to Love Your Unique
February is the month of "love" in the U.S. The focus is on loving that special one and sharing love with others. But I want to challenge you in the greatest love of all: learning to love yourself.
Yes, Whitney Houston told us about it in the lyrics to her song "The Greatest Love of All." I put it this way, we cannot give what we do not first possess. To give love, you must first be full and overflowing with LOVE.
A lot of us learn, some starting at an early age, all of the things NOT to love about ourselves. Parents and teachers correct us (sometimes harshly). Our friends tease us. The world holds up a glamorous but unrealistic standard on TV, in movies, and on magazine pages. In all kinds of ways and modes of communication, we are repeatedly told that we are unacceptable.
We are told about all of the things that are "wrong" with us and then sold solutions on how to "fix" ourselves to become acceptable. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself "acceptable to whom?" Have you ever questioned the "wisdom" of all of the people who are setting the standard and critiquing your every move? If you haven't, I want to invite you to read on.
1.an act or instance of judging.
2.the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively,authoritatively, and wisely, es-pecially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
Judgment is the trigger that begins the chain reaction of devaluing ourselves. Others judge us, then we begin judging ourselves using the same criteria by which we were judged. To avoid judgment, which makes us uncomfortable and feel unloved, we self-judge and change our behavior and appearance to conform to the "standard" that is being put out by those who are judging.
Judgment brings condemnation and condemnation triggers shame. Shame causes us to hide who we really are because we have become ashamed of who we are. And this shame, a feeling of painful humiliation and distress. In an attempt to alleviate this pain and distress, we give up on who we really are and trade it in for a "mask" that we wear in an attempt to gain acceptance.
But your life does not have to be this way. You can break free of the shame and kill the "power" of judgment in your life. Here are 3 ways to begin loving yourself for who you are and NOT who THEY say you should be:
Tune Out and Tune In
Step one is to "tune out and tune in." The chatter in your head and in the culture that is making you feel "shame" is the source of the condemnation that you feel. It is time to tune out of that channel. Everyone has an opinion. Take any topic and randomly ask 10 people what they think, and you are likely to get 8 to 10 different opinions on the topic. No one person has the corner on "wisdom." And those pretending to have it all together are often very lost. So, why follow them? Tune in to a station that shows you the value of your life and who you are. Someone put it this way, "Go where you are appreciated." Stop subjecting yourself to the personal abuse of other people's opinions.
Believe in Yourself
Many of us have been taught in very subtle ways a habit of not trusting ourselves. Some of the tapes in our head that are playing are: "you can't get anything right," "you are such a failure," "don't try, you will just fail," "you are not smart enough to do this," "you are stupid." If you have ever found yourself saying these things inside of your head, then you have fallen victim to the beast of distrusting yourself. It is important that you believe that YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are smart enough, strong enough, and competent enough. Have you heard of the story "The Little Engine That Could"? This train was looking to everyone else to do what he was capable of doing himself. So, today, make the decision to believe in yourself and your own abilities. Mary Kay Ash once said, "If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you're right!"
Love Your Unique
Most of us fail to appreciate all of the things that make us uniquely who we are. This is mostly because those things are probably the same things that people judged and criticized us for. But your Unique is really a source of power. There is no one else like you on the planet. There has never been and will never be another YOU. This is has been proven down to a cellular level by scientists (think DNA). So, instead of hiding and bemoaning your Unique, it is time for you to CELEBRATE your Unique. What things can you do with ease that others struggle to do? Can you sing effortlessly? Do words flow freely from your head to your mouth (or fingers)? Do you find it easy to love other people (this is a gift!)? I encourage you to get a sheet of paper out and write down all of the things that you can do well right now. Don't worry about what OTHER people have said about your singing (or writing or the length of your friends list). The only criteria is that it is something you naturally flow into without thinking.
After you have written all of your Unique qualities down, take a look at them. This Unique combination belongs only to you. No one else but you.
Here is a funny video that I love to play to remind me about my wonderful Unique:
"Yes, there's only one me.
I can see what I'm worth.
There is only one me
On this great big round earth!"
It is time for you to learn to LOVE your UNIQUE so that you can LIVE your UNIQUE!