The Ultimate Self-Love Post: Just Be What You Are

DenaMay 16, 2011

dreams hopes rhino treadmill unicorn

We are born with only one obligation—to be completely who we are. Yet how much of our time is spent comparing ourselves to others? —Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

  • Exhaustion
  • Sadness
  • Confusion
  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Loneliness
  • Desperation
  • Emptiness

How often do you experience these emotions?

Before I go any further, let me say this: This post is not an advertisement for an anti-depressant. It is not a sales pitch for my latest product. I am not trying to sell you something. I am asking you these questions because I know why you feel these emotions, because I feel them too. It is not something that we can cure with a pill, a book, a diet, or any other quick, meaningless fix. We experience these emotions—from exhaustion to hopelessness—for two reasons:

  1. Self-hatred
  2. Misaligned values.

In this post, I will discuss these two painful, and unnecessary, states of being and I will let you know how you can begin to overcome the emotional pain that these states are causing you.

That’s right, no more exhaustion, sadness, confusion, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, anger, loneliness, desperation, and emptiness. While you might feel these emotions from time to time, I am going to give you the power & awareness to overcome them. When you recognize the root of the problem—self-hatred and misaligned values—you take the power away from the pain.

We Are Living a Lie

The Physical: Self-Hatred
The image of the rhinoceros & the unicorn at the top of this post is adorable. It’s also heart-breaking. As much as it made me think, Aw! It also made me think, Ouch! My soul sunk a little because it’s so true. It’s the perfect depiction of our society—millions of people living in self-hatred, self-loathing, and despair because we want to be someone, something, anything else than what & who we are.

There are all sorts of theories about why society has this problem; why 1 in 8 teens suffer from depression; why suicide rates are at an all-time high in so many places. I don’t claim to have the answer or to know what the cause is. But I do know that for many of us, self-hatred and misaligned values are at the root of the problem.

Today, society teaches us that we are not good enough. The media is pumped full of deception and we no longer know what is real. Our definitions of beauty are entirely based on airbrushing. Yes, airbrushing. What we see on the covers of magazines and splattered across web pages are airbrushed, unreal images. We mentally digest these images, accept them as beautiful, and thereby our entire definition of reality is skewed. We want to be beautiful, and because airbrushed is beautiful, we want to be airbrushed.

Well, I am sorry, but I have to break something to you. It’s not possible. You can hit the gym every day, eat like a bird, have plastic surgery, and do the works—but you are never going to be airbrushed. Wake-up call: airbrushing is something that happens on a computer in a program called Photoshop!


Faith Hill Photoshopped

In the first image, we see a beautiful woman—natural & lovely in her own way. In the second image, we see a catastrophe—her arm has been photo-shopped into a twig; the bit of her back spilling from her dress has been erased; the gorgeous smile-lines beneath her eyes have been smoothed out; the whites of her eyes have been enhanced to glow like a light bulb.

Men are affected by this trend, too. Magazines & Hollywood would have us believe that every man has washboard abs and a perfect complexion.


Photoshopped Man

These images of beautiful people being morphed into flawless cartoon characters is simply bizarre. But, sadly, if we didn’t have the two images side-by-side (as above), we would never even question it! We have been so trained to accept such editing, that we digest it with ease. We accept it as beauty. We have grown accustomed to a monstrous, crippling lie.

The Material: Misaligned Values
As much as we are told what we should look like; we are also being told what we should live like. Our values are being assigned to us. We are taught that if we do not have nice things—a nice car, expensive clothes, a big house, glittering jewelry, and money to blow—then we are not successful or attractive or good enough.

Watching television or flipping through magazines, might lead one to the conclusion that our society values nothing more than money, sex, and violence. And so these values are passed on to all of us. We begin to believe that if we do not value these things, then there must be something wrong with us. So we accept them.

We force ourselves to value them too.

We live far beyond our means.

We pay $100 a month for cable and subscribe to 300 channels full of garbage. (And even if all of the programs aren’t garbage the advertisements are!)

We buy a car and a house that we can not afford.

We get an education that we can not afford.

Then we spend our lives swimming in the cesspool of debt that we’ve created all because we wanted to be somebody else; and to live somebody else’s definition of success & beauty & happiness! It was always a lie—a lie that advertisers told us so that we would spend money that we didn’t have and buy things to make ourselves feel good. But it all went too far. At some point in the last fifty years, something broke. It went from advertising to reality and half the population got sucked in and completely screwed up.

It’s Okay to Be You

It’s overwhelming, all of it, I know. It overwhelms me, too. But I am working my way out of it. I have been working my way out of it for a few years now. That is what this blog is really all about it. I’ve just never come out with it in this way. I don’t want to be brash or controversial. I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I just feel like this needs to be said.

Beautiful You: Let Go of Self-Hatred
It’s okay to be you. It’s time to set aside everything that you know about what you are supposed to be. It’s time to put away the self-hatred and replace it with self-love. You have to learn to love yourself unconditionally. All of the things that you were told made you different are actually the things that make you beautiful.

Yes. Your ugly toes are beautiful. Your big nose is beautiful. Your flat hair is beautiful. Your pale skin is beautiful. The blemishes on your face are beautiful. The extra skin on your stomach is beautiful. Your crooked teeth are beautiful. All of these things are you, beautifully, perfectly you. There is an entire world of people out here—me included—who think that you are the most beautiful creature to grace the face of this earth. You are so beautiful because you are you and there is no one else exactly like you in the world.

I know how hard it is to accept this. I know that you’ve spent a lifetime hating those ugly toes, those facial blemishes, and those crooked teeth—but it’s time to let go. Let go and let love. Whoever made you believe that there was something ugly about you was a liar. Stop believing the lies and start accepting the truth. You are perfect.

Wonderful You: Realign Your Values
Despite what the television and the magazines show us, the truth is that money, sex, and violence are not at the top of our values lists. Sure, these things are important. (Who doesn’t love money and sex?) But in our true hearts, we are complex and beautiful creatures. If you search deep within yourself, you will find that the values that society has been forcing down your throat are not at all what you really desire. Take a look at this list of values:

  • Love
  • Honesty
  • Compassion
  • Dedication
  • Hard work
  • Generosity
  • Freedom
  • Excitement
  • Adventure
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Competition
  • Kindness
  • Simplicity

Do any of these values elicit a response from your soul? If the answer is yes, you may be living a life that is completely misaligned with your true values. And if you are, then of course your entire life is plagued with sadness, anger, fear, and so on. In order to feel better and begin living happiness, you must align your life & your actions with your values.

Stop doing what somebody else told you you should do. Start doing what you feel in your heart. Start living your values. You do not have to work a job to make someone else feel comfortable with what they perceive as your level of success. You do not have to live in a house that you can not afford because you’re worried about how you appear to others. You do not have to starve yourself because you want to fit somebody else’s definition of beauty.

If you value love & compassion, get out into your community and help those in need. If you value creativity & adventure, quit your desk job and become an adventurer. If you value freedom & simplicity, get yourself out of debt and move to the countryside. There is no limit to the ways in which you can change your life. You can start right now. Where ever you are, no matter how hopeless it may seem, there is a way out. There is a path to happiness for you. You just have to stop the self-hatred and begin to align your life with your values.

7 Ways to Get Started Now

All of this motivation sounds wonderful in theory, but I know how difficult it can be to get started. If you’ve been living in a state of hopelessness for awhile, then you’re probably feeling overwhelmed right now. The best thing that you can do is start slowly and re-read this post whenever you need to. (Printing it will probably help!) Here are a few ideas to get you started. Click the number beside each idea to read more.

1. Create a daily mantra. 1 and 2

2. Practice minimalism. 1 and 2

3. Stop watching television.

4. Practice visualization. 1

5. Get out of debt. 1 and 2

6. Stop over-thinking. 1

7. Fake it til you make it. 1

8. Practice kindness & love. Let go of all judgment. We are born loving ourselves & loving each other. Work your way back to that place.


Comments (8)

  • Kristin

    May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I really love this; such simple ideas are the most difficult to truly embrace and embody in our own lives, but it is definitely possible to love yourself and reject unrealistic expectations. There are so many bigger fish to fry in this world.

    1. Dena

      May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

      @ Kristin – Exactlyyyyy! Bigger fish to fry. I feel like when we can take the focus off of those unrealistic/irrational/unnecessary expectations & judgments — we become capable of intense beauty, wonder, & magic in our lives. It’s all about self-love.

      Reminds me of this Rumi quote I’ve always loved:

      Why are you so enchanted by this world
      when a mine of gold lies within you?

      @ Andra – Your comment makes me want to cry (happy tears). Knowing that these words touched you in some way, this way, means everything to me. I put these words out here from the depths of my heart&soul with a prayer that they will impact someone in a positive way. To hear that this moved you — my precious friend — is a dream come true.

      Many thanks.

  • andra watkins

    May 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Dena, I read this post early this morning, and it has stayed with me all day. What rich truths you give us, all in the conciseness of one blog post. For me, it is always a struggle to be happy with myself, to not compete with others, but those energies are such wastes. All that does is keep me from focusing on what matters. Thank you for a positive breakdown that I can return to again and again.

  • Danielle Rose

    May 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Sometimes the “easy” list isn’t quite enough. Life never truly changed for me until I closed my eyes and plunged into the career I’d been chasing, but never catching hold of, my entire life. This wasn’t an easy decision, and it was (and still is!) a lot of hard work. But the happiness it elicited is well worth all of that and more.

    Although it sounds harsh, “stop making excuses” is probably one of the most beneficial changes anyone can make for their own happiness!

    1. Dena

      May 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      @ Danielle – Amen to “stop making excuses!” It truly is the number one reason why people do not succeed. We make excuses and worse yet we believe them. Every time I do a speaking engagement (no matter what the topic) I talk about excuses and how awful they are.

      When we can accept that excuses are LIES, not FACTS — we can begin to move forward & make progress.

  • Lorra

    June 4, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Great post, Dena. I’m behind on my RSS feed, ha. I love that picture at the top – it’s so adorable, but you’re right… it is very symbolic of our culture.

    1. Dena

      June 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

      @ Lorra – Thank you, darling. So glad you liked the picture. xoxo

  • Henri

    July 13, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I like that. I especially enjoy the global presentation and display of your article. Good to read from you. 

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