I didn't grow up with positive or supportive parents.
I experienced a childhood that was filled with verbal taunts, criticism, and put downs. I never felt good enough or adequate enough.
As I grew older, I began to have these feelings of self-loathing and hatred towards myself. I would put myself down constantly, undermine my own efforts and feel terrible in my own skin.
My childhood also spilt into other areas of my life.
How could I get close to others when I couldn't get be comfortable in my own skin?
How could I love someone else when I couldn't love myself?
I couldn't and thus the divorce.
It took my relationship to end and to be on that proverbial bathroom floor before I had to confront the emptiness within.
If you're in a similar place, first consider all those things that are keeping you from loving yourself.
Here are 5 of the most common barriers to loving yourself, followed by a technique you can use to overcome the self-loathing in your own life.
1. Not having received healthy love from others
When you weren't loved in a healthy and wholesome way, how do you know what love looks like?
If the love you received came in the form of negativity, putdowns, violence or abuse, it becomes difficult to know how to love yourself.
Your family and loved ones were to have set the example of how to love. If they were poor examples of loving relationships, you likely took away disempowering lessons about loving yourself.
2. Not being willing to accept self-love
You might feel so bad or unworthy about yourself that you don't think that you deserved to be loved.
Even if you desire to love yourself, you're not willing to be open or accept the love you give yourself.
You'll easily push it away, resist it or readily be willing to love others first.
Loving yourself could feel uncomfortable and foreign.
3. Feeling guilty or selfish about self-love
When you're accustomed to not having love, you'll feel over-indulgent and even guilt that you're loving yourself.
If you didn't have this inner love most of your life, how could you now open your heart to your own love?
Any amount of love will feel overwhelming and unnecessary.
Instead of accepting the love, you'll feel guilty that you're not giving love. Any focus or compassion to yourself will feel misdirected and a burden to you.
4. Believing that love only comes from others
If you observed love in pop culture and Hollywood, you'll have some skewed notions of love. You'll think that the relentless romantic love that everyone finds in the movies is the only kind of love.
If you think love has to come from others for it to be real, you'll have difficult loving yourself.
If you think love has to come in the form of romantic love, you'll also have trouble loving yourself.
You'll be waiting for a savior or knight to save the day and love you.
You'll continue to look outside of yourself for love.
5. Not knowing how to love yourself
At the end of the day, if you didn't grow up loving yourself or were able to cultivate love in your life, you might not have a clue on how to love yourself.
Self-love could be a unimaginable to you.
What do you do? How do you love yourself? What steps do you take?
A simple solution to loving yourself.
You may not know what it is to love yourself but all of us have this innate quality to love other people.
As babies, we were born with love. We were filled with the light of love.
We loved ourselves and the joy of being alive.
We loved others without ego or expectations.
We were filled with love towards others throughout our lives.
Now, what you do, is take that love that you have for others and turn it inward.
Whatever you would do for others in a loving and compassionate manner, do that for yourself.
Treat yourself like you would your most romantic partner.
You know those butterfly feelings of first love and starry-eyed gaga love of new romances? Those special, considerate and thoughtful things that you do for the person you're enamored with?
Long walks on the beach, love notes on the mirror, special surprises from favorite restaurants, massages, sweet nothings, kind words and compliments — you get the idea…
Imagine all those things you would do for your dreamy romantic partner — now just start doing those things for yourself.
It doesn't matter if no one showed you how to love yourself or told you how to love yourself.
You're a loving being filled with love and you know what it is like to love another soul.
Just redirect that love to yourself.
Let down the walls of resistance to loving yourself.
Accept the love as if it was a gift you were giving yourself.
Soak in the love to wholeness and completeness.
Return to the love that is already there.