Why is "Love Yourself" So Difficult?

It all starts at a very young age. We listen to what people say around us and we perceive the media as a source of truth and ultimate guidance. We quickly learn to be dissatisfied with ourselves and others. We compare and assimilate that we will never be beautiful, or intelligent enough, for anyone. We become our worst critic.

Loving ourselves should be the most basic and natural daily ritual; yet, we can probably count on one hand how many positive thoughts we’ve had about ourselves in a given week! The only thing standing between love and hate is our mindset.

What is self-love?

Self-love is appreciation for who we are, as we are, right now. The same unconditional love that we are capable of giving to other people in our lives, no matter what they do or look like, is exactly what we should award to ourselves as well.

Why so difficult?

We have learned, over generations, to react to criticism, to take comments and opinions personally, and to compare ourselves constantly with the world around us. The society’s thirst for perfection has made us pawns for self-judgment and self-deprecation.

When it comes to our bodies, we are being bombarded with photo-shopped images of so-called perfection and diets and fitness ideals that far surpass our capacities, and which, in turn, make us feel even more dissatisfied.

Promote self-love

While we can’t change what the media promotes about our personality, our character, or our bodies, we can change how we perceive ourselves, how we process information and opinions, and how we apply them to our lives.

Acceptance and appreciation for yourself

Wherever you go, whatever you do, however you look, there is one person who will always be there for you: YOU! Appreciation is the key to a rewarding life and the basis for all positive changes. You need to team up with yourself, accept how you are today, and appreciate all the little details of who you are. Foster a healthy relationship with yourself.

Catch negative thoughts

Be aware of the negative thoughts you have about yourself as they occur. Being an active witness is a remarkably powerful tool against ego-driven, self-destructive thought processes. Becoming conscious of your own presence, your critical mind will start lessening the attacks.

Stop the pleasing quest

The only person that should be pleased by you is yourself. Don’t try to please everyone.

Be positive

Write something positive about yourself daily. The goal is to start focusing on the positive and slowly let go of the negative.

Grain of salt

You can’t always stop or prevent negative self-talk or the hurtful comments of others; it’s the way you process that information that will make a big difference in your life. Opinions, hurtful comments, even compliments - take them all with a grain of salt.

No matter what others say, nothing can truly affect you or your self-image, unless you let it.

Do it for the right reasons

No matter what changes you decide to do in your life, always base them on how it makes you feel, not for what others may think. For example, don’t try to change yourself or try to lose weight to look like your next-door neighbor, do it because it would make you feel better.

Inside out

Unlike what the media tries to tell us about success and beauty, it all starts within. True beauty comes in all shapes and forms. Beauty is inside out.

Role model

How we perceive and treat ourselves, in thoughts, words, and actions, will teach others to do the same, whether a child, a friend, or a stranger. Foster well-being and self-appreciation — we could all use inspiring role models!

Embrace who you are and enjoy and appreciate yourself and your body as it is today. Your physical appearance does not define who you are or your value. Care for yourself, stay active, and have fun!

7 Ways Shame May Be Corroding Your Life

Shame has the power to crumble the most powerful and successful person at any given time. The importance we put on how others perceive us can render us completely defenseless against personal attacks or failures.

While guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, guilt is in fact a healthy emotion that allows us to recognize a good behavior versus a bad one and build consciousness to avoid future mistakes. Shame, on the other hand, the belief that YOU are bad or flawed, will eat away at every bit of your confidence without giving anything good in return.

Shame also carries serious risks. As Brené Brown, said in her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability: “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders.” Even if shame has not damaged your life or your self-worth as much as listed above, the potential is there.

Whether shame comes from something you did, or something someone said, here are some ways shame may be affecting you:

1. Low Self-Esteem

Shame has the tendency to greatly reduce your self-esteem, sometimes making you feel worthless to the point of not being able to see or appreciate any of your qualities. For example, you may have failed at a task or responsibility at work, and because of it you suddenly think you are worthless for any kind of job.

2. Difficult Relationships

Thinking that you are never good enough, or less than what you should be, will make any kind of relationship difficult. As your self-worth declines, shame may even push you to blame others for your pain. For instance, the thought of not being lovable may trigger you to blame your partner for not loving you. In this situation, no matter what your partner says or does, you will find yourself unable to accept or believe his or her love.

3. Depression

When shame overpowers your life, the risk of losing control and falling into depression increases considerably. The lack of self-esteem eventually prevents you from thinking or feeling anything positive about yourself, affecting all aspects of your life, leaving you at the mercy of a persistent mood disorder that is difficult to get out of.

4. Superficial Self

If shame brings you down to the point of feeling empty inside, or invisible to others, you could unconsciously turn to superficial compensation or gratification such as: extreme focus on looks and appearance, and/or becoming a relentless people-pleaser in order to get smiles and praise, when in fact, this false-bravado may only make you feel more frustrated and unlovable.

5. Isolation

Faced with shame, you may be tempted to isolate yourself from other people or social situations for fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected. Sadly, avoiding social interactions only feeds the fire of shame and inadequacy, making it harder to face your fears as time goes by.

6. Aggressive Behavior

Repressed shame can easily destroy lives by festering inside you and giving way to revengeful thoughts or actions towards yourself, or others that have wronged you.

7. Shaming Others

In some cases, shame may aversively push you towards unhealthy behaviors that will shame others, such as severe or constant criticism and controlling tendencies. In this case, not only are you suffering from shame, but your behavior may spread shame to others as well.

We all have felt shame at some point in our lives and most certainly have said something that could have caused shame in someone else, but, as many researchers say, keeping the shame well hidden inside is not the proper way to deal with it.

It is important to allow yourself to feel and process all of your emotions without judgment. Seek out a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to talk help you talk about and process feelings of shame. Once acknowledged and accepted, these thoughts and feelings have a tendency to disarm themselves naturally, empowering you with courage to continue on your path, leaving shame behind.

How to Rebuild Self-Esteem After an Abusive Relationship

You found the courage to free yourself from an abusive relationship. No one could have prepared you for how difficult doing the right thing would be, but you did it. Abusive relationships tend to destroy the very last strand of self-confidence you have, leaving you feeling useless, broken down, and damaged. Remember that abusive relationships are not only physical abuse, but anytime emotional or psychological abuse is present.

Part of the healing will be to stop believing everything you were told by your abuser and rebuild your wounded self-esteem by nurturing yourself back to health and confidence.

Here are some ways to help you do that:

Positive Thoughts

Start jotting down positive things about yourself. The list may be short at first, but keep adding to it as you start feeling better. Find ways to remind yourself of those positive things every time you feel low and insecure. Use a small object, such as a pendant, bracelet, small toy, a beautiful rock, or any other small objects you can carry with you, and remind yourself of all the positive things have you have to offer yourself and others.

Carrying that special object can remind you that you are deserving of love and respect. It will encourage you to keep going through tough times. See it as a gentle reminder of your promise to stop any type of abuse from ever coming into your life again.

Nurture Soul & Body

Take care of yourself by exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of rest. Take on new hobbies or activities you have always wanted to do but never did. Bring back your value by investing in yourself. It can be as simple as a hot bath and a facial mask, anything that feels good to you and brings a smile to your face.

Reflect and Observe

Try to get something positive out of that very unfortunate situation by reflecting on possible warning signs you might have missed at the beginning of the relationship, bringing them to light so you are not blinded again.

A common tactic used by an abuser is overwhelming praise and compliments that later turn into possession, pulling you away from your family and friends, only allowing you to spend time with him. Research common red flags of abusive relationships and partners. Turn this into a learning opportunity and make awareness your new best friend.

Be Kind to Yourself

As you reflect upon your past and start learning from your experience, it is critical that you do NOT blame yourself, feel guilty, or criticize yourself for falling for the very wise manipulative traps of the person you were with. It was all a ruse. Your goal is to understand better, see clearly, and grow stronger.

Though abuse is not easy to forget, you owe it to yourself to forgive and move on. Be kind to yourself and allow all the negative energies to flow out of you and embrace a fresh start.

Stay Away

Refrain from any contact with your abuser. Break all ties and contact. Clear every reminder of the relationship from your life and environment. Similar to spring-cleaning, it’s time to let go of the old and make room for the new.

If you have children with your abuser, and visitation with their father is required, you can take advantage of the services of an intermediary if you have to coordinate the transition to his care. A professional intermediary will allow you not to see the person who hurt you, and will make sure your children are safe at the time of transfer of care.

If your mind is cluttered with memories and emotions, write them all down on paper and shred it to pieces once you’re done. Do guided meditations, positive affirmations — anything that helps you quiet your mind and refocus on you.


Whether you confide in your best friend, your family, or reach out to a support group or therapist, this is a time to reconnect to people who bring the best out of you and who will support your goals and be there for you no matter what.

The world changes one person at a time, be that person in your life. Take your time, be patient with yourself, and allow room for all types of emotional fluctuations that may occur. Taking care of yourself will slowly bring self-confidence back in your life.

10 Things You MUST Do if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

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You are shattered by pain and fear. Sharing this frightful and horrendous violation of your being would mean accepting defeat and weakness. You may fear judgment or the retaliation of your assailant, so you painfully hide in the dark.

You may feel as if you are the only one going through such brutal degradation, but alarming statistics show otherwise:

  • In the United States, a person is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes
  • There are over 237,000 victims of sexual assaults each year
  • 60% of sexual assaults are NOT reported
  • 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows
  • 97% of perpetrators will never go to jail

Sadly, your instinct to keep it a secret and agonize in silence only brings you additional pain, loneliness, and anxiety. As difficult and impossible as it may seem, reaching out for help is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.

Here are 10 things you MUST do if you have been sexually assaulted:

1. Get to a safe place and ask for support

Retreat to a safe place, away from your attacker. Immediately call a friend or trusted family member for moral support. If you are not ready to tell anyone you know, contact an Austin-area organization such SafePlace (512-267-SAFE) or Hope Alliance (1-800-460-SAFE). If you are not in the Austin area, contact the national organization, RAINN, for a referral to services in your area or for anonymous support (1-800-656-HOPE).
You should never go through this alone.

2. Preserve evidence

Though you might feel the urge to take a shower, wash your clothes, or eliminate anything that reminds you of that horrific event, doing so would remove all chances of bringing you justice. Also refrain from eating or drinking anything until you have been examined.

3. Get medical care

The last thing you want at this time is to be examined, that is highly understandable. On the other hand, you need to make sure you remain healthy and safe from STDs and pregnancy.

Hospitals normally have a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) do an assessment and examination, but if you suspect having been drugged, let them know so they can add a urine test as well.

4. Report the crime immediately

Report the crime as soon as possible, making sure you have good moral support while doing so. The trauma you have been through has most likely happened to someone else before you, and will surely happen again, unless it’s reported.

5. Write everything down

Writing is therapeutic. Writing down all the details you remember will not only help a possible investigation, it will also allow you to safely get everything out of your system and begin to process your trauma.

6. Seek counseling

Seek professional help to cope with this tragic event. No one is born equipped to deal with this on his or her own. A safe and confidential support system is your best chance for a healthy recovery.

7. Watch out for PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a sneaky result of highly traumatic situations and often comes days or even weeks after the assault. You may feel as if you recovered fairly well, only to be hit by depression, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, or other unwanted behaviors and emotions you’ve never had before. Speak to someone if you start experiencing unusual symptoms.

8. Remember: It is not your fault

While recovering from your assault, remind yourself that you didn’t do anything to deserve this and it wasn’t your fault.

9. Join a Support Group

Surround yourself with people that truly understand what you’ve been through. Your friends and family may be able to offer emotional support, but support group individuals will truly understand your situation.

10. Take care of yourself

Listen to your thoughts, your emotions, and your body and take good care of yourself. It is time to empower and nurture all aspects of who you are. Once you’re ready, you might even consider taking a self-defense class, or volunteer with sexual assault awareness organizations to turn this traumatic event into a positive, awareness raising, and caring project for you and others around you.

What is PTSD and How is it Treated?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects more than 5 million people each year in the United States alone. Any traumatic event, the loss of a loved one, going to war, an assault, abuse, an accident, or a major disaster, can be the trigger for this paralyzing anxiety problem. PTSD doesn’t always show up right away; the symptoms can take days, weeks, even years to appear.

PTSD Can Be Unpredictable

PTSD does not always reveal itself in the same way or within a predictable timeframe. For example: A first responder helped emergency crews at a fatal car accident, in which a drunk driver hit and killed a 17 year-old boy. During the emergency, the responder’s adrenaline kicked in, he had no time to cry or feelhis emotions. After the event, his anger, sadness and frustration surfaced from witnessing such an atrocity, but aside from that, his emotions were minimal and under control. Three weeks later during lunch break, the same first responder flips thru a magazine in which a man’s cologne is advertised. The smell of the cologne hits him hard: it’s the same cologne the 17-year-old boy was wearing on that tragic night. The scent of the young man’s cologne triggers such a strong emotional response in the responder that he has to leave work, unable to stop crying.

This type of delayed response is common and, because of the time lapse or the strange onset, it might not be seen as PTSD. Recognizing the signs of PTSD is critical, even if they occur long after the tragedy.

Do I Have PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms may take months and even years to reveal themselves. If you have been through something that caused you great emotional distress, keep an eye out for unusual symptoms like these:

1. Reliving Symptoms

  • You can’t stop reliving the event
  • You start having nightmares
  • You experience unusual triggers that remind you of the event (smells, sounds, sights)

2. Hypersensitivity Symptoms

  • You’re always on alert and watching out for potential dangers
  • You’re unable to stop talking, or have difficulty focusing
  • You’re easily irritable
  • You’re highly reactive to loud or sudden sounds
  • You have difficulty sleeping

3. Avoidance Symptoms

  • You act as if nothing happened
  • You avoid certain situations or locations (crowds, driving, certain subjects)

4. Behavioral Symptoms

  • You seclude yourself from others
  • You refuse to talk about the event
  • You have a loss of faith in religion, people, or life in general
  • You’re no longer interested in your work, school, or hobbies

How Do I Treat It?

Unlike other situations, PTSD needs more than time to resolve itself and the symptoms rarely go away on their own. If the symptoms stick around for more than a month, or if they severely impact your normal day-to-day life, do not wait. Reach out to a health care professional.

In addition, look for a therapist who is trained in EMDR* therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR is a treatment protocol that is highly successful in treating PTSD and other anxiety disorders. The EMDR therapist gently guides you to safely revisit the memories and emotions of the traumatic event(s), unlocking the negative feelings and emotions associated the event, and allowing your brain to reprocess the experience objectively, neutralizing your negative responses to the event.

PTSD is a cry for help. Since we are often the last one to recognize a change in our behavior, it is important to share the traumatic event with a trusted friend or family member who can keep a good eye on you and watch for PTSD symptoms that might otherwise slip under your radar.