The topic of self-love often makes survivors cringe as they cannot seem to understand that it is okay to love oneself. Self-love is one of the most important things you can do to overcome the negative effects of dissociative identity disorder (DID).
In this article together we will look at self-love to hopefully encourage you to grow in compassion and understanding with yourself.
As I stated, some who read this article will cringe at the thought of self-love. If you are like I was in years gone by, you harbor immense hatred toward your looks, behavior, and anything to do with yourself. The thought of loving yourself makes you angry because you have determined there is nothing about you worthy of love.
Also, there are those out there who feel that self-love is unattractive and even evil. The old tapes that play in their minds tell them that they are unlovable and deserve to be treated badly. While these thoughts may not be conscious, they nag at you from the center of your soul and the thought of loving yourself makes you feel bitter.
I put it to you that not only are you worthy of love but that the best thing you can do is to learn to live with and love every bit of who you are.
What is Self-Love?
To begin with, self-love is not vanity nor is it selfishness. Self-love means that you accept yourself with all your flaws and treat yourself with respect and kindness that will cultivate your growth as a person. Self-love includes not only how you treat yourself but also how you feel and think about who you are.
To understand self-love better try to imagine feeling nothing but positive regard for yourself and how differently you would speak to yourself if you were a friend. Would you put them down? Would you feel loathing for them when they make a mistake? Of course not, and you deserve to be treated the same, with compassion and empathy.
Because people who live with DID have fragmented parts of themselves, it becomes even more vital to practice self-love. If you are to find peace and coexistence within your system, you must embrace all of yourself including the things you don’t particularly like about yourself.
Also, you can be furious or disappointed in yourself and still love who you are as a person. For instance, you love your children even though you are sometimes angry with or disappointed in what they do. Your love for them allows you to relate to how they feel, and you do not stay angry for long and you never stop loving them.
Self-love is a pattern of thinking and being that allows you to grow and flourish despite having problems in life.
Methods to Develop Self-Love
While each of us must find our own way to self-love, there are four methods one might find helpful in cultivating it.
Be mindful. To cultivate self-love, one needs to know what they think, feel, and want. By practicing mindfulness, one can maintain a healthy sense of self and act on that knowledge. One becomes self-sufficient in their love for themselves instead of dependent on someone else doing it.
Set healthy boundaries. By setting firm boundaries and maintaining them, we set limits and tell others where they may and may not tread. Because of these boundaries, you will love life and have a spiritual and emotional awakening.
Forgive yourself. People are the hardest on themselves. However, being hard on oneself has the downside of taking responsibility for their actions and punishing themselves for mistakes or a failure to grow.
One must accept that they are only human before you can love yourself. Try to remember there are no failures in life so long as you try. Accept that you will be okay when you inevitably fail. Failure is a simple fact of life. Everyone fails, but those who move on to self-love learn that they learn from their failures and are not destroyed by them.
Live purposefully. If one lives with purpose, they will learn to accept and love themselves more, no matter where they are in life. One’s purpose does not need to be clear as water to you. If you intend to live life to the fullest and feel good about yourself when you succeed, you will find you love yourself. Establish your living intentions and learn to live up to them.
These four methods for building self-love are critical to observe as they can propel you forward along your healing journey.
The Benefits of Loving Yourself
The benefits of loving yourself are many and below I will attempt to share with you only a few of them.
You Will Acquire Life Satisfaction. When you love yourself you create acceptance and are willing to accept all the stages of your life and take responsibility for all your actions, including those of alters. You recognize and acknowledge the power you hold over your own life and become satisfied with how well you have done it. Life won’t simply pass you by anymore because you will have a sense of continuity and satisfaction about who you are.
You Learn to Deal with Adversity. When you are going through tough times your self-love with help you cope. You won’t be as likely to measure yourself against others and you’ll embrace hardships. Your thinking will become more optimistic, and you’ll find yourself ready to create new ways of dealing with change.
You, Will, Form a Healthy Self-Esteem. Because you love yourself you will feel good about yourself with all your opinions and abilities and see failure as a learning opportunity for change. Your confidence and pride will not diminish because you will see yourself as a flawed human being, not a monster. Daily tasks and activities will become easier to complete without hesitation and experience an increase in wellness in your mental health.
You Will Find Dealing With Your Alters is Easier. The alters in your system desperately need to be cherished and only you can give that to them. When you love yourself you are actually loving your alters because you are the same person. It is hard to not love that little child who is living inside you, so love yourself to show love to them. With self-love you will find that dealing with the antics of the alters will lessen as they finally are receiving the critical love that they crave.
Pulling It All Together
I know that loving yourself seems difficult right now, but it is vital to your healing. Remember, self-love is not selfish; instead, it is the most beautiful thing you will ever do.
After achieving some measure of self-appreciation, you will find life isn’t as harsh as you used to think. You will find that you respond to others in a more genuine way and that they in turn will subconsciously recognize the change in you.
Don’t be afraid to explore this topic, even though it may seem outlandish. You are worthy of love; all of you.
“You don’t have to learn to deserve love. You are love. Loving is never about how others treat you. It’s always about how you are treating yourself.” Rhonda Britten