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It’s no secret that we’re often harder on ourselves than we are on other people. We make goals or simply tell ourselves to be better people—maybe become more confident, less jealous, more grateful—but when we don’t improve ourselves immediately or make one slip up, we beat ourselves up for it. We constantly criticize ourselves or make comments about our own failings: our so-called stupidity, ugliness, unlikable or awkward personality, or some other undesirable traits of ourselves. We make it known one way or another, whether through making jokes at our own expenses or straight up admitting to our friends that we don’t like much about ourselves, if we like anything at all about ourselves.
The way we talk to others is much more generous than the way we talk to ourselves. Because we’re with ourselves all the time—whether we’re alone or with others—we believe that the extended time we spend with ourselves means that we should just know how to do better. In a way, being with yourself all the time can be a curse. You can never get away from your negative self-talk, your inner critic; it’s always with you. It’s almost like living with an enemy who has taken up residence in your home without your permission, but every time you ask them to leave or try to force them out, they stay planted where they are.
Our inner critic hurts us all the time. It tells us we’re not deserving of love but that other people are. It tells us to constantly compare ourselves to others and realize that we’ll never measure up to other people. It tells us of all of our shortcomings and how we should do better, but when we try to improve ourselves, it always finds something else to criticize ourselves about. The more it talks, the more you start to believe it. It’s only a matter of time before you start believing at least some of what it says. The inner critic convinces us that we’re inferior and will never be enough, no matter how hard we try.
But the inner critic is lying. We are all doing the best we can. Surely if we could do better we would, wouldn’t we? Why would someone continually, purposely keep doing something or behaving in a way that is counterproductive to their own quality of life? Why would someone continue to hate themselves to the point where it destroys their sense of self, or even worse? Why would someone want to hurt themselves when they have to live with who they are as a person all the time?
Whatever mental ailments you’re dealing with are not things you want to have; nobody wants them. Struggling with your mental health is simply a part of living life; it says nothing about the quality of your character. So much of life is outside of our control. Our attitudes are affected by our environment: the places we live, the people we live with, and even how we live our lives. We didn’t decide any of these things. We didn’t even decide if we were born or not, what kind of personality we would have, what kind of grievances we suffered in life. We can’t control everything that happens to us or how people around us behave. All those things and more are simply things that just happened because that is simply how life works. None of that is in your control.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself; living as a person, we all want to grow and become better people. But you can easily get caught in finding all of your flaws and trying to correct them that you simply forget to live. We often see our flaws more clearly than our strengths, even though we have them both in equal abundance, and we immediately want to fix ourselves. Our obsession with self-improvement takes away our focus from simply living our lives, being in the moment. Our obsessive self-hatred takes away the time we could spend loving ourselves instead.
Self-love isn’t something that only certain people can come by or deserve. It’s essential to living. We can’t simply wait for ourselves to improve to start showing ourselves love, because that day will never come. Our inner critic will always find something “wrong” about ourselves that we feel compelled to fix. If our inner-critic can do that, surely we can always find ways to love ourselves.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far you are in life. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been kind to yourself in the past or not. If you want to change, you can change. If you want to start loving yourself, you can choose to love yourself starting right here, right now. There’s no time limit on when you start to practice self-love. It’s never too late to start loving yourself, and it never will be.
This is a gentle reminder that you deserve that love and kindness, too. It’s never too late to start loving yourself.