Loving Yourself at Any Age

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

During my life I’ve obeyed; I’ve complied; I’ve bit my tongue and; I’ve conformed. I’ve played the games; I’ve allowed my ego-mind to rule and; I’ve believed I was unworthy. Yet I succeeded (by traditional measures), I’ve grown, and I’m coming into my own being. But do I fully love myself – yet?

You know you are supposed to love yourself, but do you? This is a subject most people don’t like to discuss because society has told us that to think about it, discuss it, or assess it, is an act of selfishness. Additionally, most people avoid exploring themselves for fear that they will discover a lot to not love. The message we get is we are going to have to learn to love ourselves and it isn’t going to be easy or pleasant. The truth is there is nothing to learn, just some important parts to discover.

Without truly loving yourself, your relationships will be challenged and confused by the love dimension. Love will involve neediness and fear of not getting love. The only way to truly love others without needing them and being attached to not getting their love is to experience self-love fully and without condition. This is easier when you explore and discover what you know about yourself. Which is where some discomfort lies.

People are often afraid to love themselves because it means knowing themselves. Yet once a person begins to explore and embrace all parts of themselves, including the mistakes and faults, they discover how it all fits together to make them unique, lovable and loving. Rarely will you be disappointed with what you find. But this process takes time, a lot of time.

As we age, we become more aware of our true needs and wants – and what we have to do to bring them to fruition. There are many ways to love yourself now. If you’re interested in exploring, you might consider these choices:

  • Let go of worry. Loving yourself requires you to let go of your worry. It’s sad to live a life filled with constant worrying. Worry doesn’t help at all and it cannot on its own, make things happen. Only wise actions can. Instead of worrying, think about what you can do to help in the situation. If the situation is beyond your control, then make a request to the Universe/God about what you want. Then, surrender to the outcome.
  • Transform your mindset. Sadly, it’s often easier to get down on yourself than it is to lift yourself up, but if you want to love yourself, you have to change your mindset. You have to believe you’re worthy of love and you have to actively seek out positive things about yourself and your life. Believe me, if you don’t do it, no one else will. Change the way you think about yourself and the rest will fall into place.
  • Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make decisions. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.

The challenge is to love yourself consciously and completely and be able to smile and nod at yourself even in the most challenging moments. When you discover all of you, you will know that what you have been looking for your whole life has been right in front of you, waiting for you to know it. Love yourself completely and the freedom to love others and all aspects of living will be your reward.

I’m still working on it. Are you?

43 thoughts on “Loving Yourself at Any Age

  1. Excellent post Eric! For some reason this post “felt” a little different. I’m not going to say “better” because you approach all your posts in a very refined mannerโ€ฆbut maybe it’s my personal preference to inserting myself in my storiesโ€ฆthat makes me feel more for this post? Or maybe it’s just that it’s something even closer to my heart?

    I’m working on it too! I think a lot of us are..some of us more aware of it than other, some getting used to itโ€ฆall striving for the same self-love ๐Ÿ™‚ I like what you said about it not being something to learn to do but more of a discovery!

    • Well, whatever “it” is, Dr., it’s having an intended and positive affect! Wishing you much self-love as you continue your discovery. Thanks for adding your warm, personal experience to this thread.

  2. very nice Eric. i read this just after hanging up with a friend, having had a very similar conversation. age is not to be feared, unless we fear learning who we truly are. at 53 i am really discovering myself, and realizing how much of myself i had left buried under convention, etc. this is the age where i realize that my highest obligation of honesty is to be honest with myself about who i am – good, bad, ugly. and then make peace with every part, even and especially the ugly, or decide to change. i choose to make peace with and live with everything, even the ugly. sometimes “change” is just another running away from who i truly am. very nice work.

    • I am warmed by your discovery and what you are choosing to do with/about it. I hope you will consider giving equal caring to all you find that is beautiful and worth sharing with yourself and others. We don’t need to focus disproportionately on the bad or ugly. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I always remind myself to run, with intention, toward rather than away from something. Give yourself big hugs!

  3. I really like that you mention the quiet you is your higher self. It’s so easy to dismiss the quiet one and go with the loud voice of ego. Thanks for this reminder. I often question myself if it’s “me” or my “ego” speaking; this helps me to be quiet and listen.

    • Sometimes it takes a bit more effort and focus to listen to the quiet voice. That’s where practices such as meditation can enable more clarity with the whispers. I’m glad that the post served as a useful reminder, Suzi.

  4. Hey, Eric, this is another thoughtful post with good practical suggestions. My challenge is that after 25+ years of working on, getting to know and loving myself, I’m not sure I really feel better or more loving toward myself. Much more self aware, maybe more compassionate, but not really a sense of satisfaction or deep love. I often wonder if the whole self improvement approach is an endless trap. What’s your experience with self improvement (which I include learning to love myself)? And yet, I agree that life is a journey to learn to love more deeply, both self and others. Paradox?

    • I bet you do! Feel better and more loving toward yourself, that is. Perhaps your point of reference or the way in which you are measuring this has shifted – think… you’ve raised the bar higher! Or, maybe you’re being too tough on yourself? Part of this is a mindset, Brad. Try to allow kindness to be present when you are.

      To your question: For some time I’ve used the expression “self-work” rather than self-improvement. To each their own, as it’s merely semantics. For me it’s not a trap, rather, it is a journey… an experience… a perspective. I don’t hold myself to many goals or finite outcomes. Instead, I create and allow awareness in and of myself, others, and my surroundings. When I frame them in the positive, the constructive, as as gifts or blessings – I then find ways in which to integrate chosen new into my journey. Some of what I find/learn presents new challenges and learning to love myself more deeply is one such piece of work that is blooming, as beautifully as it is slowly. ๐Ÿ™‚ And this then tests my patience – which is another challenge. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Perhaps we can save this exploration, discovery and sharing for conversation with some good wine.

      • Thanks for your beautiful reflection and comments Eric. Yes, more self kindness, compassion and acceptance would be helpful. I’m definitely hard on myself. I like your approach of allowing awareness to grow and blossom as Eric the new and improved! I’d love to have a deep conversation with you or relax and be!

  5. I really like this post as it is an area I struggle with. I have discovered myself recently that the ego is the loud voice and the quieter, gentler one is the voice I should listen to more. This was quite a “ah-ah!” moment which has helped alot so I am pleased to see it here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Unsolicited, may I invite you to reframe your statement “…as this is an area I struggle with.” The word struggle, while perhaps an apt descriptor, is negative. If you were to consider stating “…as this is an area in which I am looking forward to doing more work and succeeding…” what might that do to your mindset?

      I’m always warmed when people experience “ah-ha” moments. Aren’t they cool?! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing, my blogger friend from down under. I appreciate you!

    • And I believe we are part of a sizable majority, Aussa. And we’re all progressing at a different pace – which is fine. I for one wouldn’t want my work to be complete; what would I then do? As shared with an earlier reader, much of this is about exploring, discovering and being. And the being part is the bee’s knees. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Eric, I value your specific advice but question the usefulness of terms such as ‘loving oneself’. I love specific actions that I have done and dislike others. I am a fallible human being and I don’t understand what it means to love myself as a whole rather than loving some parts of me and disliking others. In fact, if I really believed that I ought to love myself I would get very stressed out because I don’t and would not know where to start. Again, your recommendations about letting go of worry, transforming one’s mindset and trusting one’s intuition are perfectly compatible with the more limited vision of loving I have outlined.

    • Therein lies the beauty of blogging openness. How one filters and interprets “loving myself” is going to vary from one being to the next. Each of us factors for different inputs, experiences, belief systems, etc. – that individually or collectively contribute to our perspective and practice of self-love. I could share with you, Malcolm, what enables it for me but that may not resonate or align with your processing. There are countless written works ‘out there’ in which others (more studied than I) share what it means to them and how they achieve or aspire to loving themselves.

      Another possible consideration: some people may not need to “understand what it means.” For them, it could be a matter of faith, trust or a general acceptance of abstract concepts. To me, it seems, an analytical and intellectual viewer would appreciate having, if not requiring ‘evidence.’ For those who are content with allowing and sitting with a condition, there seems less a need for understanding.

      Which begs: Does it really need to be actionable or defined? For me, unsolicited, it’s a matter of personal sense and acceptance.

      I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. Thank you for adding them to this thread.

  7. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we more easily shrug off the unsubstantiated opinions of others with respect to how we should live our lives. We stop using an external yardstick to measure our worth to the world. Jealousy and envy of others falls to the wayside because we know that we would not step wholesale into anyone elseโ€™s shoes . . . leaving our own behind.

    Instead of looking to others for guidance on what to be, say, think, and do, we look within and develop the โ€œbestโ€ of our unique talents, skills, and abilities. We realize the goal of life is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than our previous self. With our increased self-acceptance, we are able to say, with confidence and conviction, “Who I Am Is Who I Want To Be.”

    And that feels Tiggerific! :mrgreen:

    • Nelson, you can’t just leave your comment at that! Unless you’re committing heinous acts, what could be going on with your life that would yield such a harsh self-judgment? Curious minds don’t believe you can fairly claim this….

    • We’d all be well served to continue working on it, my friend. Bravo on getting there, though! Some of us are and others are choosing to focus on other goals and priorities. I am sensing you will make extraordinary progress with your aspirations and desired outcomes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I think I know myself , with all my virtues and vices. If I now want to love myself, then I must make myself worth too. Not easy, to change or improve habits grown over time . Yet, never too late either , till i survive. I feel, beauty comes from sweetness and innocence..with age we lose both..or gain..or regain what was lost..can it last ?

  9. I believe you are right on point: It is not easy to change habits or patterns yet it is not too late either! I also like your word choice “regain” as we do choose to recapture qualities, traits, and characteristics that are significant to us. Can it last? To me that is a matter of personal choice. Do we intend it to? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing your appreciated thoughts!

  10. Pingback: We find each other, the ones that seek love. The price of love is truth. | Life in Poetry

  11. Pingback: Challenge Accepted | Change Nothing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s