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"I recently got out of a bad relationship. How do I learn to love myself again?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Oh man. This is hard. I was once in a relationship that made me feel terrible about myself and once that finally ended it took me a couple of years to feel totally awesome about me again. I think the first place to start is be okay with feeling bad about yourself. I don’t think there is any danger in feeling terrible, but I do think there is some danger when you feel bad about feeling bad…that’s too much feeling bad.

We all go through spells where we feel horrible about ourselves and the number one thing i’ve learned from going through those myself is that no one can talk you out of it. There are so many things I want to say to you. You are better than a shitty relationship, you are more important than you feel, you deserve better than someone who will treat you poorly, you are the only human on this planet that can be the greatest YOU on earth. But I know, as well as anyone, that those things will only help you when you are ready to love you again.

Don’t focus so much on how to make things better, focus on what things make you temporarily happy. Much like a lengthy relationship with someone else, you are in a long-term relationship with yourself and you need to fall in love with you again. You need to remember the things that made you love yourself. Do tiny things that make you laugh or feel good. Draw, write, dance, sing, play guitar, go to the movies, cook, have a Hilary Duff marathon, read under a tree, lay in the sun, ride your bike, run and don’t stop running. Make yourself happy little by little and eventually you will remember why you are the greatest fucking human being who has ever lived.

Kristin Says:

Yes, yes, yes. What she said. All of those things are of the utmost importance, and Dannielle is right – at the very minimum, try to allow those negative feelings that are swirling around in your heart have the space to exist, so that you can examine them, feel them, understand them, and finally let them go.

The other part of this issue, at least as I have experienced it, is that often times a bad relationship makes you feel shaky and full of self-doubt when you begin to get into anew relationship. I have had the experience where I feel horribly sad, but still moderately confident in myself after a breakup… until I met someone who I really liked and discovered that, in so many ways, I was so very broken.

This is a tricky situation as well because it is so hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person when you are wounded and when you are feeling shitty about yourself, but of course being vulnerable is key in learning to love both yourself and someone else. My approach to those awful and consuming feelings that haunted me from my former relationship was to, again, be aware of them for myself, and also to talk to the new person in my life about them. If I was feeling down and it affected my behavior, I would say, “Hey, I know that the way I acted might be a little confusing to you, and I just want you to know that I am coming from a place where it is hard for me to trust my instincts and be open to certain things, but I am working on it and I really appreciate your understanding.” Most times, that is all it takes. We are all human beings, and we all understand pain, doubt and fear.

The biggest thing that both Dannielle and I are saying is that, whether you are learning to love yourself again in every day life, or within a relationship with someone else, you are broken at the moment because of things that have already happened, and that can’t just “go away.” It is so important to remember that we all have complex experiences, that we change and shift according to the environment that we are in, and that you define who you are — not anyone else. I can promise you that the person you are now is already wonderful, intricate, and beautiful. There is just some shit that you have on top of all that wonderfulness that you have to sift through. Be patient.

I know that it is so hard to have patience with the feelings that we wish would vanish, but the trick is in allowing them to exist so that you can, slowly but surely, move forward.

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