A big part of my job as a holistic nutrition and health coach is to teach women how to love themselves. Without self-love, any nutritional suggestion, life style recommendations and attempts at creating healthy rituals will fall on unreceptive ears. When changes come from a place of self-criticism they are short lived.

The reactions to the idea of LOVING MYSELF can be heartbreaking, comical, puzzling and as varied as the women I work with. The idea is always met with an initial resistance that is sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious. During the many years of learning self-love myself and teaching it to other women, I have become a detective at identifying the many ways we resist self-love. See if you can find yourself in any of the following 7 scenarios.

1. I Don’t Want To Be Selfish

“Love myself? That’s selfish! You’re supposed to love and care for others!”

Many women were trained, from a very young age, to be a caretaker. They were taught to value the act of giving. They learned to identify with being the nurturer, the mother, the comforter. All those qualities are wonderful and are so needed in the world. Women do care deeply, love fully and want to make the world a better place by shining their light and love. The problem starts when they don’t put limits, create boundaries and balance their giving with self-care. When a woman does not care for herself, allows herself to get help and support and learns to be a gracious receiver she will burn out, get exhausted, become depressed or develop an illness, all of the above are messages her body and soul are giving her to LOVE HERSELF.

2. I Am Not Worthy

“I don’t know what it means to love myself and can’t even imagine doing that.”

Women who experienced abuse develop a deep feeling of being unworthy. They don’t feel that they deserve love, they attract people who devalue them and they have a hard time entertaining the idea of loving themselves, it just sounds too foreign. Those women often have an abusive relationship with food and with their body and will sabotage their own efforts. A gentle and persistent approach works best. Getting support is crucial. Starting where they are and taking a small step forward. For example, instead of saying “I LOVE MYSELF” they need to start with “I am learning to love myself” or even “I am willing to consider learning to love myself”.

3. It’s Too Simplistic

“Loving myself doesn’t work, it’s too simplistic and won’t accomplish anything.”

Women who want “the cure” to their ills are looking for a magic solution, THE formula, THE diet, THE pill, THE guru that will finally save them. They want results. Fast. Now. Guess what? Loving themselves is the magic ingredient that makes everything work. Only it doesn’t work like they wish it will. It is not an instant cure all but rather a journey of discovery that needs to be taken slowly and with a sense of adventure and wonder. You might not lose 10 lbs in one week or get rid of chronic pain instantly or grow a healthy mane of hair overnight but loving yourself will give you results, lifelong results of a better and healthier life.

4. It Won’t Motivate Me

“If I love myself and accept myself the way that I am I will not be motivated to change, I want to change because I don’t like myself.”

Many women get fueled and motivated by self-hatred, self-criticism or a feeling of dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives. And while that motivation could start them on a quest for a healthy life it will not supply enough fuel to take them all the way. Self-criticism will always eventually fail because they cannot make a full commitment to something they do not love. Only love, deep unconditional love, will get them through the ups and downs of life’s journey because they will do everything to care for something the love.

5. It’s Too Hard

“Yes, I know that loving myself is important, but it’s too hard.”

The only reason that loving themselves feels hard is because women have to unlearn the lie that they are unlovable. They learned it somewhere, picked it up along the way and now it’s time to look at it and shed it. And while loving themselves feels hard it is MUCH HARDER to not love themselves, to walk around with constantly feeling bad about themselves, to be plagued with self-doubts and self-loathing. Loving themselves is actually easy and natural, every young child knows how to do it until they learn not to. It is time to unlearn that and reclaim their right for self-love.

6. I “Love” Myself Too Much

“I do “love” myself, that’s the problem, I love unhealthy foods, don’t like exercising, love my unhealthy habits and I allow myself to indulge.”

There is a confusion here about what love is. Just like a person who stays in an abusive relationship because they “love” their abuser, real love makes you flourish and shine, not shrivel and get sick. If women love unhealthy foods and harmful practices, it is time to question that. Women who love sugar, cake, ice cream and sweets of any kind have my out most understanding and sympathy. I know. I’ve been there. But actually their bodies don’t really love it, they crave it because many of the foods they eat and things they practice are addictive and numbing. Once they learn to create newer and life affirming practices, they will experience a deep shift and the unhealthy habits will fall away.

7. It’s stressing me out.

“I am committed to taking care of myself and have a grueling workout schedule, I eat clean, I meditate for hours and I’m all stressed out!”

Women who love themselves find time for relaxation, play, doing nothing, taking vacations, being unproductive, in short: having a more balanced life. It is great to exercise and eat healthy but it can be taken to the extreme where it becomes an obsession and no longer serves a healthy and happy life. I recommend that women start noticing the way they practice their healthy habits and how they make them feel. Is it fun cooking a healthy meal or is it stressful? Do they enjoy exercise and feel alive and energetic after, or do they feel drained? Is their relaxation practice really relaxing or a strain on their already too busy schedule? Allowing themselves to enjoy your life and take pleasure in their activities is a main ingredient of self-love.

Have you recognized your resistance to self-love? Seeing your resistance clearly is the first step to embrace self-love and let its healing light move you closer to the radiant life you want and deserve.

Please share with someone you love.