Ways To Love Yourself After Abuse

Want to feel upbeat and enthusiastic most of the time? Self love is the key to creating and maintaining that high energy, focused and positive mood on an ongoing basis. If you have suffered abuse or trauma this can be very difficult.

It’s simple, really. If you love yourself, you will be highly motivated to provide a healthy physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience for yourself.

I know, you’ve probably heard all of your life that you’re supposed to love yourself, but how in the world do you actually do that?

You are so much more.

The actual practice of self love goes deep, and becomes an actual way of life that will serve you well in all every aspect of your life. So, why is it so hard?


Why Isn’t It Easier To Love Yourself?

That’s the real question, isn’t it. If only it was as easy as Stuart Smalley makes it seem…doggonit…

Here are some of the reasons we struggle with self love:

  • When things went wrong in your childhood (neglect, abandonment, abuse, etc.) your child mind thought it was your fault. This is natural, but it creates a major barrier to self love.
  • Feeling this self doubt, you looked to the world outside you for the love and approval you needed. This is also natural, but it puts your happiness in the hands of others, which as you know doesn’t always work that well.
  • When the world outside you fell short of what you needed (and it always does, sooner or later), you fell back into the old internal self doubt.

This is the problem, and we’ll get to the solution in a few minutes. But first, take a look at this diagram to see how this all works.

Self Love

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  1. Love is who you are. You were born with a deep and profound need to love and be loved, but even the best parents cannot meet this need perfectly. So at some point things started feeling bad although you didn’t understand any of this at the time.
  2. As an innocent child, you didn’t know how to put the responsibility on the grownups where it belonged, so you took it on yourself. That’s where the self doubt and confusion sets in. 
  3. Then it seemed that love and approval from others was the answer. Your thoughts were, “If I can get them to love and adore me, then I’ll feel good inside, and that will solve this problem of my inner doubt and confusion.”

So, like everyone does, you set about the business of seeking approval, love and recognition from your parents and other significant people in your life.

However…

“It’s not other people’s job to make you feel good about yourself. That is something you and you alone can accomplish.”



How Does Self Love Help You Keep Your Good Mood?

Your good mood comes from feeling good physically, mentally and/or emotionally. And you’ll be willing to take action to create these good feelings when you love yourself.

If you love your car, your home, your spouse or your children, you are highly motivated to take good care of them, right? Likewise, if you love yourself (your body and mind), you will be more likely to practice good self care.

So, how does loving yourself help you to keep on feeling good? One word…motivation. You will be motivated to take care of yourself if you love yourself.

Motivation

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General steps toward self love

Here are some general ways to move in the direction of self love (more specific skills below):

  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly. The more you do that, the better you will feel, and the easier it will get.
  • Stay mentally focused in a direction that is uplifting and encouraging. This is a set of skills that you can develop, and this entire site is designed to help you with that.
  • Keep yourself grounded and centered in who you are and  what you’re creating. This is a matter of regularly asking yourself, “Who am I and what am I doing here,” and answering that with your core values and your vision for your life.

Skills to help you love yourself:

Review and re-work your personal history, to remove your emotional and mental barriers to self love.

  1. Journal about your past experiences, going all the way back as far as you can remember. 
  2. With each significant experience, whether positive or negative, ask yourself, “What did I conclude about myself and my future because of this?”
  3. Write down your answers to that question, and separate them into two categories. Label one as, “Self limiting beliefs” and the other as “Self empowering beliefs.”
  4. Replace each self limiting belief with one or more self empowering beliefs. Keep doing this until you have a nice, long list of self empowering beliefs.
  5. Read and re-read your self empowering beliefs daily until they become strong and embedded in your subconscious.
Journaling

Write daily messages to yourself as your best friend, personal coach or wise inner being

  1. In your journal, say to yourself, “Good for you for (fill in the blank)” and repeat that for all of the good efforts, choices, decisions, thoughts and actions of the past 24 hours.
  2. Do this 4-5 days a week or more, on an ongoing basis. After you start feeling really good most of the time, you can just do it as needed to feel better and raise your energy level.
  3. To bring in a spiritual element, imagine that you are a loving angel or other spiritual being who loves you unconditionally and believes in your goodness and your gifts.

Develop and constantly renew practices of caring for your body, mind and spirit.

  1. Design and implement your own personalized daily exercise program. Make sure it works for you and your body, and ideally include some way of getting outside and connecting with the earth.
  2. Use Goodfinding journaling practices, in addition to those listed above (and others you put together), to keep your mind clear, positive and focused on the good inside and all around you.
  3. Work directly and intentionally with your core values. Make a list of your top priorities in life, and make up your mind to redesign your life so that you are living according to those priorities (values). All of the other exercises recommended here will help you with that.
  4. Create and design your own spiritual practice, based on your beliefs and convictions. This can include some of the above listed journaling processes, along with inspirational reading, audio and video programs.

2 comments

  1. This is very helpful and timely for me. I have C-PTSD, and am struggling with my own issues, as well as trying to be there for a friend (also an abuse victim) who is dying. As I try to support her, it seems to use up all my available energy, in fact, I feel that it leaves me in an energy deficit … and I then totally neglect my own self care. She has struggled so hard to stay alive. This is so confronting to me with my self harm ideation. Thank you Erin for the self love/self care explanation and suggestions!

    • Thanks for getting in touch. I am sorry to hear about your friend. You are very brave to be supporting her given you have CPTSD too. I can totally understand how it would bring up self-harm ideation. Please implement the strategies in the article and don’t hurt yourself. Your friend wouldn’t want that. Good luck over the next period of time. I hope it’s not too hard. If you want support ever please contact me on erinfado@gmail.com. All the best Erin.

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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