How Do I Actually Begin to Love Myself?

From the desk of Crystal Andrus:

If you haven’t read last week’s blog entitled: “Self-Love is Very Different than Selfish Narcissism” you really need to . . .  before you plunge into this one!

You’ll notice some of the comments at the end of that post shared sentiments such as: “We hear this from everyone, but how do I learn to love myself in order to live and feel better in my own skin? Perhaps you could share with us.”

It’s really so sad, isn’t it—how we have un-learned to love ourselves?

….But there was a time that you loved yourself—unconditionally and confidently.

I remember a retreat I was having not too long ago, when Natalie Hughes (our musical director) couldn’t find a babysitter for her small daughter, Audrey. Natalie always performs during these special days and it’s just not the same without her. She asked if she could bring Audrey and let my teenage daughters watch her.

“Of course!” was our answer.

Just before the day got started, I asked Audrey if I could introduce her to the group of ladies—many who looked a little anxious. Audrey happily agreed.

Up Audrey came, a little shy but glowing; I asked her to tell everyone her name and how old she was. I then asked her if she was beautiful. “Yes,” she nodded with the sweetest smile. She certainly was beautiful! She then told us that she was also “smart and talented and very loveable.”

The ladies all admired her gentle strength and humble confidence. We admired her God-given sense of self-love.

Audrey hadn’t learned to hate herself . . . yet. Audrey hadn’t learned that her hips were too big or her breasts too small. She hadn’t decided that men would probably hurt her or that money didn’t grow on trees.

Audrey was still trusting, believing, and completely hopeful about life and the important part she would play in it. Audrey loved herself. Not with selfish narcissism but with a natural sense of divinity.


We are born with self love. We didn’t have to learn it. We innately felt it. We instinctively believed in our parents. We trusted that they would protect, guide, encourage, and empower us, until we were old enough to make our way out into the world with confidence, courage, and certainty.

But for many of us, this didn’t happen.

Our parents didn’t give us what we needed. It’s not necessarily their fault though. They probably didn’t get the messages of self love delivered to them either!

My parents never once told me as a child that they loved me. Not once. I didn’t find out until I was a teenager that my mother’s parents had never spoken those words to her either!

Parents don’t intentionally set out to ruin their children. I’m a mother myself; I can’t imagine carrying the burden of thinking I said or did anything that may have negatively affected my daughter’s self esteem, self worth and self love! But I probably have . . . not even knowing it.

Parents carry their own wounds, shame, pain, and blame. And they unconsciously project it all over their kids. The truth is we all project our light and our darkness on those around us—unless we’ve done some serious self-work!

So, this blog will not be a “blame mom or dad” post. Instead, it is to remind us that we can remember who we once were . . . we can remember what it feels like to love ourselves.

Your Self-Love is Still Inside You!

Marianne Williamson points out in her extraordinary book, A Course in Weight Loss, that “the love you’ve withheld from yourself … is held in trust for you until you’re ready to receive it.” This concept is so huge! You probably have a huge warehouse of self love stored up inside of you!

Do you get this????

The love you have withheld from yourself is still inside you,
held in trust, waiting until you feel safe enough to receive it!

Do you understand that the only reason you’re struggling so much is because you’ve been too afraid to shine bright. You’ve been worried that being YOU—magnificent, beautiful, talented, sexy, powerful, amazing—will hurt you. You’ve tucked your self-love, along with your bright shining light, deep deep inside.

You may have insulated your self-love so far down that you think it’s lost, but it isn’t! Your love can never leave you—even if you’ve left it!

This week, your job is to remember who you were as a child. Find a picture of yourself. Notice all the wonderful qualities you possessed; the wonder and trust in your eyes. (You may even have to go all the way back to a picture of yourself as a baby.)

Write down ten positive affirmations about “her”. An example of your list may be:

1.    You are so beautiful.
2.    You are so kind.
3.    You are so smart.
4.    You are so special.
5.    You are so sweet.
6.    You are so loveable.
7.    You are so important to me.
8.    Your life matters.
9.    You matter.
10.  I love you!

Then, every morning and evening, look into the mirror—into your own eyes—and repeat these affirmations to yourself.

This is the start . . . the beginning of falling back in love with you! It may feel futile at first. Do it anyway.

I will continue this conversation with you next week….

Until then . . .


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26 Responses to How Do I Actually Begin to Love Myself?

  1. brenda says:

    you are so right!!!Bravo….we all need to keep hearing that over and over and over…till we get it….

  2. Melody says:

    Wow Crystal…this writing brought tears to my eyes! It is true…when did we forget to love ourselves and why did we stop?? I cringe when I think of the nasty things I’ve said to myself. I am more aware now…I ask myself does this act, thought, word, choice demonstrate love for myself? Not all the time but I am a masterpiece in the making. Thank you for your inspiration!

  3. I love this article, Crystal.Thank you!

  4. Christy Farr says:

    Thank you for this, Crystal. Several of my clients are working on this and I’m going to share it with them. I’m so glad to have discovered you and The SWAT Institute Blog.

  5. Jeanne Branick says:

    Whenever I feel down or insecure, I call upon all my ‘little Jeannes’ inside
    of me from ages 5, 12, 21, etc.. I remember all the times of myself
    that were pure and beautiful and happy and safe and brave and I say, ‘come on
    girls, let’s have fun and be silly and brave together-we can do it!’ I look at some
    sweet pictures of myself when I was a child and say, ‘I love you Jeanne- you are beautiful and perfect. God loves you then and he certainly loves you now!’

    Crystal, I attended your ‘I Can Do It’ workshop in Orlando several years ago and found you profoundly healing. You are beautiful inside and out.

    In Health and Happiness,
    Jeanne B.

  6. Jan says:

    Thank you for this…loving myself is a big problem for me….I love who I am, like being smart, dependable, honest etc. but I am finding I hate me..I do not know how I can love and hate me at the same time….I look back at my life of 60 years and do not find where anything went seriously wrong….no, my parents did not tell me much growing up that they loved me….believe me, I did not carry this cycle to my children….I feel an urgency of sorts to love me, but I do not know how to do that, however, I am going to try the mirror thing to see what happens….No harm, right?

    I do not even remember how I got to your website, but thank you for all you do. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

  7. Peggy DaValt says:

    Thank you, Crystal. This was VERY powerful, Crystal and VERY much needed for me. As I journey toward my own authenticity and in the belief that there is a special guy there for me, I recall Arielle Ford and others stating that you have to look you in the mirror and say, “I love you.” If you don’t love you, how do you expect others to, including that special guy?

    Having had a “bad” date the other night, I retreated into the negative thoughts of “why would anyone like me?” I have asked my relationship coach why it was “so easy” to meet men when we were teens, 20 or even 30? What happens to us as we age? I think that we do beat ourselves up and your blog post showed that.

    Tonight, I’m going to get a cute photo of me at 2+ and print it off with these positive affirmations and others that I have. It will go on my bathroom mirror until it becomes inate.

    Thank YOU so much for this. I asked for a sign about this subject and along came your blog. Have a fabulous day and thank you for sharing!!

  8. Vickie says:

    Thank you Crystal! You are so right. At times I feel I love myself but when I actualy think about it it’s maybe only 1-2% of the time, wow I need to really work on me and love me for who I am, quit judging, blaming, putting me last and get that nasty voice out of my head.

  9. Elle O'D. says:

    I lost my 24 year old daughter, Emily, on February 7th, 2009. She was struck and killed by a drunk driver. She died of blunt force trauma and was gone before I got to her bedside. She was a beautiful young woman who had many dreams and who had managed to believe in herself in spite of some bad things that had happened to her. I remember when she around 18 and she was telling her aunt (my little sister) about all the things she wanted to do with her life. I remember thinking how wonderful that she had those dreams and visions for herself. My sister’s reply was, “my aren’t we full of ourselves”. Emily didn’t hear it but I did and it cut to the quick. This past year I have been grieving and seeking healing and understanding. I have come to this conclusion with the help of some beautiful women who have walked with me through the valley of the shadow: WHO ELSE SHOULD WE BE FULL OF IF NOT OURSELVES! WHO ELSE? Emily was a writer/poet and she left me many journals full of her thoughts. As I have been strong enough to read them, I have read about the times I was not there for her. It is heart breaking on the one hand but she also realized that before I was her mother – I was a woman who had loved and lost, who had danced on the beach and cried many tears and a woman who deserved her respect. She gave me the gift of really seeing me and I think that is the best gift ever. I love her and miss her dearly. There are no words for the sense of loss I have when I think about how it would have been to grow old with her in my life. I hope this is not too long or too depressing. It helps to share our story.

  10. Beth says:

    The foundation of self-love is self-esteem. You must understand the negative and distorted messages you took in as a child and replace those messages with healthy messages. It is hard work to accept and understand a new way of thinking but it is the only way to break the patterns that prevent you from having self love. You have to get to know, appreciate and become YOU, and let go of the false person you became as a child in order to get love and attention. This takes time. You have been the false you for your whole life. Be kind and patient with yourself. xo

  11. I enjoy your articles very much Crystal. When you said to do the affirmations, I thought, love is an action. Demonstrating love to ourselves is healing.

  12. Kristina says:

    Thank you for publishing this post Crystal. This is exactly the message that needs to be delivered right now and I’m glad you are reaching more and more people each day.

  13. Monica says:

    It is impossible for daughters not to absorb all the negativity we feel about our self. It is an energy, albeit negative. So, do the work to get back in love with yourself or you will be looking at a younger version of yourself…in your daughters.
    Thank you for putting the effort out there for us to think about what we are thinking and feeling about ourselves.

  14. Tina says:

    Thank you Crystal
    I find myself crying alot lately. I have been attacked since high school by jealous girls. They always called me fat, when I really wasn’t. I guess it was my “crime” that I had a full figure of 36DD – 25 – 37.5, instead of being a stick figure like most teens. Do you believe to this day almost 35 years later I still get harrassed by a couple of those narcissistic girls? One is so full of hatred she even attacks my daughter whom she has never seen. Well all need to open our eyes to the fact we are all different but all beautiful. When women come together we can really make a difference in this world. And that is my intention. I get sick and tired of hearing how women and little girls around the world are being treated like second rate, not even as human beings. Treated worse than animals, but we are beautiful, we are numerous and we can make a diference if we love ourselves and who we represent in this world.

  15. shokoufeh says:

    Dear Crystal
    Thanks a lot for your motivating article.I always follow your rules,and I must say,”they work.”
    I believe in you
    I’m sending you so much love

  16. Beautifuly said. I have an 18 year old daughter and I remember when she was about 12 and her and a bunch of her friends were in the car along with my mother. When they got out my daughter and I said ‘I love you’ as we always do, and even her friends said it to me. My mother got very quiet and said ‘I never said that to you, my mother never said it to me’. I always say ‘If they would have known better they would have done better.’ I think we are the breakthrough generation of women and our girls will be the first generation to not be all screwed up!

  17. Do says:

    Thank-you, Crystal, for reminding me of the work I need to do to heal these old mis-beliefs. I’m reading ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ right now, so the reinforcement/support/encouragement from you is right on time!

  18. Linda says:

    Thank you for the wonderful article. I really enjoyed it.

  19. Linda Reed says:

    Lovely to read and try to understand/remember, and to forgive so much and “be positive”. Thank you. Linda

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  21. Claudia says:

    Thank you Crystal!, and thanks for remind me how once I’ve loved and believed in myself undoubtedly, and for showing us how to do this.
    I totally agree with Monica and Julie about passing to our family the bad stuff. I have 2 girls myself and really I do my best to give them what din’t have growing up (in respect being loved, encouraged, and so on) I tell myself that I want to be a better generation and tell my girls that they too should be even better to they children.
    Even though I try my best I know I do or say things that scars my kids, but at the same time, every time I see what I did, I talk to them and apologize for what I did and ask them to forgive me, not for me, but for them, so their heart stay light and open for love and less anger and negativity.
    I am proud of my work as mother for being able to balance discipline, respect, affection, and limitations. Not an easy task, what facilitates is the fact that I am not afraid to say to my family, sorry, I was wrong, I love you and there is nothing you can do to stop me from loving you, and please let me know what I did wrong so I can change, and have patiences with me, I am doing my best to learn how to be a better person for me and everyone around.
    Thank you so much for your support and encouragement.

  22. Dianne says:

    Yes,we all think we alone have these feelings,this keeps us isolated in our pain . I truly hope one day the realization that if we feel it we are not unique or alone. The way to peace and understanding is in sharing without fear of rejection,and how many of us are willing to push past that fear? My life has been a life of many choices based on fear, fear so deep and familiar I didn’t recognize it for what it is. For my daughters I wish and confirm so much more. For the world of women, every time we reject the pervasive belief that we are not thin or smart enough, we give hope to those little girls who are just entering our world. Mean girls need to become archaic. We are here for each other , we need as women to mean as much or more to each other than the ego pride that comes with competing against our own. The words pretty, thin,sexy cannot be our goal anymore it is has become the road of self destruction for so many who had more to offer . Oneday I will hear my own voice and not be afraid.

  23. Kathy says:

    Christine Arylo, author of the awesome book “Choosing ME, Before We: Every Womans Guide to Life and Love”, defines self-love as

    “Honoring yourself so deeply that you would NEVER put youself into a situation (a job, relationship, etc.) that doesn’t treat you the same way.”

    She also points out that self-esteem is different from self-love. Self-esteem is the belief that you are capable, that you can do anything. Self-love is quite different.

  24. Kathy says:

    “You know that you love yourself if you…

    ~Know your dreams, and live them
    ~Love yourself, all of her, especially the parts hard to love
    ~Settle for nothing less than your heart and soul desire
    ~Have only relationships full of unconditional love and respect
    ~Are nice to yourself (you stop being so hard on you!)
    ~Treat your body like a temple (and you love her as she is)
    ~Take care of yourself, without guilt (you give from the overflow)
    ~Design a sustainable life that supports you, not exhausts you ”
    -Christine Arylo

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  26. renea says:

    l enjoyed what you had to say but i can’t remember loving myself when i was younger i have no memory of loving myself at all and no i wasn’t told by anybody that i was loved therefore it’s hard loving myself less lone looking in the mirror telling myself positive affirmations when i’ve been told all my life and still today that i’m ugly and that’s what i truly believe i’ve tried all sorts of things and it hasn’t helped my self esteem, self confidence and i’m at the age where what difference does it make i may be dead soon. Thank for your words of encouragement but i know they will not work for me it’s been too long…

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