By Helen Wilde
You, yourself, as much as anyone else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
What are the barriers to ‘self love’? One of the biggest barriers is self blame and guilt.
My first experience of these emotions associated with diabetes happened when my beautiful 12 year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Of course as her mother I went through all the stages of grieving, including guilt and self blame. Did I do something wrong during pregnancy? Did I stop breast feeding too soon? Did I allow her to eat and drink too many treats? Was it my fault?
Later in life I was dx with Type 2 diabetes myself. I knew I was at risk, I had family members with diabetes. But for me, like many others diagnosed with diabetes, the struggle towards acceptance and self management had to begin with acknowledging the feelings and emotions I experienced at diagnosis. Disbelief of course, and denial for a time. Then there was fear, anger, blame. But there were also strong feelings of, ‘oh well, I deserve this, I ate and drank things I shouldn’t, I didn’t exercise enough.’ I know after years of working and talking with people with diabetes of all types that all of these emotions are very, very normal. I also know that these feelings can lead to being ‘stuck’, unable to make changes, even small changes, which could lead to improved health and life outcomes.
‘Self-blame is one of the most toxic forms of emotional abuse. It amplifies our perceived inadequacies, whether real or imagined, and paralyzes us before we can even begin to move forward.’ (Psychology Today)
But what if you feel so dissatisfied with yourself that no amount of change could possibly convince you that you’re worthy and lovable?
‘ I really want to be loved and accepted, but I learn a little more every day that my own self respect is the foundation of lasting joy.
I know that I am not so different from most people. Who doesn’t want to feel that people understand them, get them, and at the end of it all love them anyway? I think we all want to believe it’s perfectly OK—and maybe even wonderful—to be exactly who we are.
Of course, that has to start with us. People can only love us if we believe we’re lovable. You may not fully believe it if you:
1. Constantly compensate for who you are with apologies, hedging words, or clarifications for your actions—like you always owe other people explanations.
2. Beat yourself up when you make even the slightest mistake.
3. Think about your flaws and feel overwhelming disgust or anger.
4.Cling to people who see the best in you and find it hard to maintain those positive feelings when they walk away.
5.Tell yourself that you’re being selfish whenever you consider meeting your own needs.
6. Repeatedly do self-destructive things, or make choices that show you don’t respect or value yourself.
7. Don’t consider your needs a priority.
8. Always find a reason to talk yourself out of your dreams as if perhaps you don’t deserve to have them.
Advice from someone who shares this experience and is working towards the goal of self love:
- Know That You Are Not Your Worst Mistakes
- Know You Have Nothing to Prove
- Know the Dark is Valuable
- Know That You Matter
- Know That Positive Feelings and Actions Breed More’
What does this truly mean?
It means that we do have the power to change how we see ourselves.
Not because we should. Not because it would please our doctor, our endocrinologist, our dietitian, our life coach, our friends, our family, our boss.
Because we deserve it- you deserve it, I deserve it. All of your experience is valid and valuable, it makes you who you are. As is all of mine. We do not need to self censor or judge or devalue our own past lives.
‘The Future is Unwritten’- and we will write our own future. By changing how we see ourselves, by being as kind to ourselves in word, thought, and deed as we are to others, by giving unconditional love to ourselves, we will begin to make other life changes which will benefit ourselves because we deserve it.
Helen was a long term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online & Teacher. She is mother of a type 1 diabetic since 1979 and a type 2 diabetic herself for many years.