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Love Yourself (part 2)

As we continue to examine what it means to love ourselves better in light of healing from domestic violence and moving forward with a more positive sense of self, there are some more practical tools to be implemented that will make a world of difference.  Let’s take a look a few more tangible ways that we can love ourselves better that will hopefully result in a more meaningful life and circle of relationships.

To begin with, we need to begin forgiving our past selves.  Were you born this morning by chance?  If not, CONGRATULATIONS!  You have a past.  With that out of the way, is there any chance that you are perfect in every way?  Still no?  Congrats!  You also have dirt in your past, just like everyone else.  We ALL have a past and those pasts are riddled with good choices, bad choices, successes, failures, wins, losses, mistakes, etc.  You get the point.  Living in the past can only keep you living in your mess.  When you confront your past and begin to forgive yourself of the mistakes made, you can begin to move forward in freedom. 

I want you to picture every big mistake you made.  In light of domestic violence, maybe you got in a relationship you knew wasn’t healthy.  Maybe you stayed in a relationship you knew wasn’t safe.  Maybe you made some poor life decisions that got you caught up in mess like drugs, alcohol, or worse.  It’s possible that in the midst of crisis you took the easy way out and stole to make ends meet, or lied when it was more convenient that facing the truth.  Face it, even good people make big mistakes.  Now imagine that everyone single one of those big mistakes is a piece of luggage.  Some might be little hand bags.  Others might be great big suitcases.  If you are carrying around the burden of your past mistakes, it is like carrying all that luggage around at once with you.  Now picture trying to go to work, pick up your groceries, eat a sandwich, or play with your child.  All that luggage is going to prevent you from doing even the most menial of tasks. 

We can all learn a lesson from this picture, but the cost and burden is probably even greater for those trapped in domestic violence.  It can prevent even the most basic and sensible decisions from being made because the cost of doing so requires too much energy or too much self-esteem.  So ask yourself, what parts of your past are you letting haunt you right now?  Where do you need to forgive yourself and where do you need to forgive and forget?  What is this baggage preventing you from accomplishing in life?  Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself is simply to forgive your past self and love your present self. 

Another practical step toward loving yourself better involves starting to make the changes you know you need to make in your life.  I believe this ties nicely to forgiving your past in part.  As Marc Chernoff writes, “Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”  We can have a different future if we want it, but we have to change what we are doing.  We’ve all heard that the definition of is doing same thing over and over expecting different results.  We have to change what we are doing in order to get a different result.  We have to change what we allow into our lives in order to gain a different outcome.

Again, when it comes to domestic violence scenarios, there tend to be some changes, big or small, that really do need to be made.  The trouble is that nobody can make those changes but the individual themselves.  And factoring the trauma and even psychological brainwashing that can take place for some, this process can take quite some time.  There might need to be a romantic relationship that needs to be abandoned.  Maybe there is a roommate or friend that needs to be let go.  It can get quite complicated with family involved, but there might be a sturdy set of healthy boundaries that need implemented in order to provide peace.  Someone might even be struggling with the decision to be totally single for a bit so that they stop falling into negative relationships.  There might be bad habits that need dropped, not to mention maybe an addiction or two.  The possibilities are certainly endless. 

So what are some of the things you are doing that cause more damage than good, and can you change it?  What about some of the things you are doing that keep you from making any progress at all, good or bad?  What are some of the things you wish you were doing in life, but you either haven’t gotten there yet or you haven’t that the courage to do?  At the end of the day, even if it costs you a great deal or there is great risk involved, isn’t it still worth it?  Isn’t the possibility of a bright future tied to some risk taking better than a certain bleak or negative one?  Take a chance and start making those changes.  And on that note…

Another very important manner of loving ourselves better is to begin embracing the mistakes we haven’t even made yet.  Einstein famously stated that, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”  That sure is something to chew on.  So, if you’ve made a mistake, then you must be in good company along with all those are trying adventurous new things.  If you have never made a mistake then you either have not lived at all…or you are a liar.  The idea is to not let fear of making mistakes dictate what your future looks like. 

For domestic violence victims, fear is a significant part of the equation.  Mixed with the abusers typical barrage of insults and aforementioned brainwashing, I hear a lot of abused women talk about how they must be the problem, and therefore they should stop trying to change anything since it always results in abuse.  We of course know that the abuse was likely going to happen no matter what the victim did.  I have also heard a fair amount of victims fall prey to the lie that they are terrible, worthless, unwanted people and that nobody else would want them anyway so why try.  They don’t even take a shot at freedom or real future love because they thing it can only end in failure.  Even the fear of not finding anyone else and returning to the abuser looking a fool is a very real issue for some victims.  Breaking the choke hold of fear in your life can be the most empowering event, but it certainly isn’t easy.  But on a positive note, there are many who have overcome failure that we can draw inspiration from.

Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player ever, was cut from his high school basketball team and cried.  The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said they, “have no future in show business.”  Steve Jobs was unceremoniously removed from a company he started.  Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and original ideas.  Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.  And Einstein wasn’t even able to speak until he was 4 years old, and his teachers claimed he would never amount to much.

Seeing that list can make you feel like you’re in pretty good company as a failure.  I would take any one of their stories.  Michael Jordan has even famously announced, “I have missed over 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

The reality is, like Einstein stated, if they had never taken a chance and tried something new, they would never have learned to be great at something.  In a nutshell, success requires failure.  It’s not about preventing the fall, but rather, as Batman’s dad said, it’s about learning how to get back up.  So what are some of your fears and what makes you so afraid of them?  Is it mostly wrapped around failing?  What would you have tried or would like to try if fear of failure didn’t play a role?  If you are a victim of domestic violence, how has fear of failure kept you in abusive relationships?  Do you believe you can embrace your failures, learn from them, and rise to new heights?  I do.  So begin to love yourself in amazing new ways.  Forgive your past, start making some changes, and keep taking healthy risks even when you fail.  Because guess what…you are still worth it.


Jared Bohland

Client Services Coordinator

Dove Inc. Domestic Violence Program



Source material includes 16 Simple Ways to Love Yourself Again, Written by Marc Chernoff


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