Self-Love: Learning to be my own friend
Are you your own friend?
John 15:13, NIV says, “Greater love has no man than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” While you may lay down your life for others, would you be willing to lay your life down for you? It seems like a tricky question, but think about it for a second and pretend you are someone on the outside getting a glimpse of your relationship with yourself. Do you appreciate yourself enough, esteem yourself enough, love yourself enough, that if you were put to the test, you would lay down your life for you?
We learn in social constructs how to treat others,
but none of us get a manual on how to treat ourselves.
Gospel Zumba Inspiration instructor and good friend of Temple Fit Shelitta Howard knows this experience very well, as I’m sure do many of you. She has overcome depression, disappointment, low self-esteem, and self-doubt.. Her story encourages her clients and so many others. I asked her to share the fruits of her journey with us, so we can learn to grow in self-love and be our own best friend. (For more on our Self-Love Series, head here).
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Self-love, to me, is trimming the “facts” you think about yourself. We pick up negative opinions from other people, from our environment, and from ourselves; and we train ourselves to think that all of this is true. Often, what you believe to be “facts” are truly myths and distractions. Here are some ways to explore the difference…
Step 1: What do I think of me?
You must first address what you think of you. Go stand in front of a full-sized mirror and have a real conversation with yourself. Also, have a dry erase marker and get ready to write. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did God design me?
- Why am I unique?
- Why do I hate myself?
- Why am I ignoring me?
- What negative things do I think of myself?
- Why do I not like it or them?
- What do others think of me?
- What do I believe others think of me?
- Why should I accept me?
- What do I like most about myself?
- What values do I have?
- What is my favorite feature about myself?
- How can I improve upon me?
- What are things that I am capable of doing differently?
Make sure to leave your responses on the mirror.
Step 2: Who are my allies?
Next, list individuals who always have encouraging things to say to you and keep you motivated. These are your allies. Put their names on the sticky notes and add them to the mirror as well. You may choose one of these people that you trust and ask them to help you find God’s value in your uniqueness. Or you can do some reflecting on your own to explore this further.
Step 3: What does God think about me?
Now you’ll need to grab a pen, a pad, and some sticky notes. For about one week, make a habit of walking up to the mirror with the pen and pad, writing a list of pros and cons about you for the day. Then reflect on this: Why did God create me differently? Put your reflective responses and the responses of your ally on sticky notes and add them to the mirror.
Step 4: What is my purpose?
Life has more value when you start to realize your reason for being. Now that you’ve spent a week exploring who you are, what you think, and what God thinks; now it is time to investigate: Why am I here? Put together what you’ve learned about you in the past week and write down some the reasons you think God saw the need for you to exist.
Step 5: What if I mess up?
Even though you’ve completed this exercise, that doesn’t mean the battle is over. There are times when you’ll need it again, because “facts” can creep up out of nowhere! There are also times when you’ll need bits of encouragement to reinforce the constructive things you think about you, who your allies are, why God created you differently, and why you’re here. For this, we head straight to the Word of God.
Here are some Scriptures that you can write on index cards and hang them up throughout the house, take to work with you, adhere to the dashboard of your car, or even snap a picture of to display on your phone:
- Psalms 139:14, I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well.
- Proverbs 19:8, Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed.
- Mark 12:31, The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these.
- 2 Timothy 3: 1-2, Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles, because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be proud. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be thankful or be the kind of people God wants.
- Proverbs 27:2, Don’t praise yourself. Let someone else do it. Let the praise come from a stranger and not from your own mouth.
- 1 John 4:19, We love because God first loved us.
- Romans 5:8, But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
- Romans 12:18, Do your best to live in peace with everyone.
- Galatians 5:26, Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Learning to love yourself is a big adjustment It will take discipline, but you must avoid the words “stupid, ugly, failure, displeasing, etc.” Avoid calling yourself names! Instead, replace the negative self-talk with affirmations like these:
- I am a masterpiece designed by God!
- I am created with purpose!
- I have been created to make a difference!
- I am greater everyday!
- I am not perfect, but I am learning from mistakes!
- I will not limit my value!
- I am God’s Child!
- I will win!
- I am blessed!
Step 6: Learn to be your own friend
In this time, you have to learn how to love on yourself. Spend quality time with yourself and learn who you really are! Take yourself out for dinner with a pen and paper. Reflect on the goodness of God and on your dreams. Take time to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. Permit yourself to be proud of you.
Then create a plan on how to keep pressing forward! There is nothing wrong with seeking out help, support groups, webinars, and other forms of valuing self. Let’s learn how to deal with our current placement in life, learn how to defeat a negative saying with a positive saying, and learn how to train our minds to see the beauty of every situation.
As you find yourself, you’ll find that just being kind to you makes you happy. For example: I love to dance at home throughout my house. I love music when I clean. I enjoy walking down the street and opening up my eyes to see the beautiful birds, butterflies, and clouds and the way the trees move. I also enjoy listening to motivational speakers on my podcast.
Once, I really appreciated God’s beauty, I began to see myself completely different. People around me started to notice it as well. I become a person with more patience, more peace and a sound mind. I became my own friend.
Shelitta Howard is a Certified Zumba Instructor and Pharmacy Technician. To join her class or connect with her, subscribe to her Gospel Zumba Inspiration Facebook group.
In addition, Shelitta recently underwent total hip replacement surgery, due to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. She is recovering well, and she can continue to benefit from your prayers and contributions. To support Shelitta’s recovery, please donate to her GoFundMe campaign by clicking here.