6 Self-Love Barriers Holding You Back from Happiness (and How to Overcome Them)
Self-love is the name of the game these days, but what does it actually mean? Is it treating yourself with a bright and shiny new something you’ve been coveting, or something as simple as embracing compassion? We caught up with LÄRABAR ambassador, author, and holistic wellness coach Alex Elle to unpack the deeper significance of self-love and break down six common barriers women face when it comes to truly loving themselves.
Elle says self-love can be especially hard to master because it goes against what many women are taught when they’re young. “Personally, I was raised to take care of everyone else and put myself last, but that’s really devastating to the self,” she says. “I’ve since found that relationships of all kinds — with family, friends, colleagues and romantic partners — can’t thrive without a healthy foundation of self-love.”
Elle notes that for her, staying full is the key to sharing her wealth with others. “I look at self-love like water,” she explains. “I want to be a full pitcher so that I can pour into my girls’ cup, my husband’s cup, my friends’ cups. So that’s how I look at it, not in a way that’s selfish, but in a way that’s self-sustaining.” Preach.
Barrier #1: You nix your own needs. “Believe it or not, your boss, significant other, best friend, neighbor, sister… they’re not mind readers,” Elle reminds us. “Loving yourself means advocating for yourself in every kind of relationship. Being able to identify and share your individual needs is vital to all relationships.” Yes, this includes the one you have with yourself.
Barrier #2: You don’t fuel up. Eating junk food might make satisfy your taste buds on a stressful day or even help mend a broken heart (wine ice cream, anyone?), but Elle warns that it’s always a temporary fix. “It’s so important to feed your body what will make you feel good, inside and out,” she affirms. Break through this barrier by fueling yourself with more good-for-you ingredients, rather than roadside eats, unhealthy takeout, or sugar-laden treats. You’ll notice the difference!
Barrier #3: You don’t make time for yourself. Spending QT with other people is a legit way to show them you care, but carving out time for yourself should be held in equally high regard. “I call one practice I teach ‘Stop, Drop, and Self-Care’,” Elle explains. To pull this practice off, set your alarm to ring early a few times each week and allow five to 15 minutes to do something good for yourself.
“I have a lot of clients who work the traditional nine-to-five and I tell them to scoot back from their desk, take a few minutes to breathe, listen to a meditation, stretch or walk,” Elle explains. “Just acknowledging your physical presence can be a healing technique.”
Barrier #4: You allow negativity to overpower what’s good. “In our hectic everyday lives, it’s easy to fixate on the frustrations: a bad day at work, a seemingly impossible goal, or a situation that might be out of our control,” Elle acknowledges. “In these moments, I try to focus on what I have and am grateful for instead.”
Still struggling to find the positivity? Try Elle’s go-to meditative writing practice. First, write down the lies — the negative self-talk, doubt, etc. Next, jot down the truth about yourself next to each lie, like what you’re capable of. “Putting this on paper helps to surface the negative, rather than just ignoring it,” she promises.
Barrier #5: You gloss over your fears. Fear is powerful, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from living the kind of life you dream about. “You have to unpack the fear,” Elle says. “It’s something that my clients are always nervous about at the beginning, but by the end, they’re like ‘Wow, I can do this!’” Bust through this barrier by deciding to go for it. Address what troubles and frightens you; bring it up, talk about it, and find solutions for each worry or cause or concern. The more you practice, the more natural moving through fear will feel.
Barrier #6: You tell yourself that “now” is “forever.” “It’s so easy to feel ‘stuck’ — stuck in a job that isn’t what you want it to be, a relationship that doesn’t feel right, a city where you don’t want to stay. We’ve all been there,” Elle notes. “A strategy for me to overcome this barrier is simply knowing that it will pass.” Repeating or writing down positive affirmation can help your belief that better times are on the horizon. We especially love one of Elle’s favorites: “I am thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength.”
What has helped you show yourself more love in the last year? Tell us what’s working on Twitter @BritandCo.