How to love yourself. What is self love when you’re overcoming codependency?

Written by heidimcguirk

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December 11, 2020

Over the years, I’ve coached thousands of people who are in toxic, dysfunctional or unhealthy relationships and I always ask the same question:,” What do you think is the number one thing you can learn that will set you free from all of these dysfunctional toxic relationship problems once and for all?”


After they think about it for a minute, they say, “ I think I need to learn to love myself”


And that’s exactly right! We need to learn how to love ourselves. But the problem is we don’t know what the hell that means.


When I ask people “How do you love yourself?”  They talk about taking baths, getting manicures or massages. They tell me about going to the gym or eating “clean”. In other words they tell me about self care.


Self care is a part of self love, but it is NOT self love.


The truth is there aren’t enough bath bombs in the world to compensate for a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. There aren’t enough manicures on the planet to quiet your harsh inner critic.

I needed to learn this too. I didn’t love myself either. I had a real problem with self-destructive behavior. I chose people who didn’t want me in relationships.And I wasn’t attracted to the ones who wanted me. I thought something must be wrong with them to like me so much.  


The outside looked pretty good though. I had self care. But behind closed doors, I was self-medicating and self-loathing. Numbing out with food and alcohol.

I couldn’t shut that tape off in my head screaming, “What’s the matter with you? What’s wrong with you? Why are you the way you are? Why can’t you be normal like everybody else?” My negative self-talk that would constantly have me second guessing myself. 

If you have the same tape in your head, it’s time to get busy loving yourself. But HOW do you do that?

The first thing we need to understand is that love is not a feeling. Love isn’t something you feel. Chemistry is a feeling, attraction is a feeling, but love is a verb.

Love is something you do not something you feel.

So if that’s the case, self love must be something you do and do daily.

In fact and I don’t love myself at all unless I am demonstrating my love for myself on a daily basis.


I can say I love myself, but if I can’t demonstrate it, and I’m still picking the wrong people for me, I’m still self-destructive, or I self medicate, I am not really loving myself.


The first thing that we Master on the road to loving ourselves is figuring out who the hell we are.


You can’t love yourself if you don’t even know who you are.


Most of us aren’t who we are, we’re who we’ve needed to be and  that’s called codependency. 


When you’re born into a toxic or dysfunctional family dynamic, you’re just trying to scramble and hustle for love and affection.


You end up taking on what I call, an Attachment personality Pattern.  

These personality patterns are the masks we wear to thrive, survive, connect or cope in our family of origin. I have come up with eight different personality patterns. One of the patterns is the people pleaser. You just want to make everybody happy all the time so you just go along with the show and put your own needs off to the Wayside. Another is the controller. You feel like you need to be in control of everything all the time and you become compulsively self-reliant, developing trust issues. Another pattern is that of the Fixer. You run to the rescue all the time, choosing broken people to put back together. And yet another pattern is that of the withholder. Where you keep people at arm’s distance.  You’re in it but not “in it to win it” because you don’t want people to use your feelings against you. So, you keep your feelings to yourself.


We have all these different personality patterns running the show.  And that’s why step 1 is to know who you are. 


You need to  excavate your authentic self and figure out who you really are at your core 


By the way, in my programs over at LYFE School, we get to the bottom of this as well as 6 other daily self love disciplines. It’s a self love system.  


Another way we love ourselves is by practicing radical acceptance. This is when we learn to trade self- righteousness for reality and not only do we accept ourselves for who we are, but we learn to accept others for who they are too.


That’s an art form.


We can carry around immense resentments waiting for others to love us the way we want to be loved. But when we learn it’s really up to us, we can release the hostage (a I call it) and start meeting our own needs.


This is a problem for those of us learning to love ourselves because we are so used to putting the needs of others before our own.


But when you are learning to love yourself, you learn what makes you tick, brings you joy and fulfills you. 


You stop waiting for other people to buy you the flowers and you plant a garden.


We stop waiting on others and we lead the way.


We stop trying  to be a shapeshifter, doing what we think will pleasure everyone else and we start to please ourselves.


We master the concept of enough when we learn to love ourselves as well.


When I was meeting my needs by binge drinking and binge-eating, I could never get enough. 


There  were never enough Oreos and  there was never enough wine. And do you know why there’s never enough wine or never enough Oreos? Because you can never have enough of what you don’t really want. And what you really want doesn’t come in a sleeve, or in a bottle. It comes from within.


Another thing we do daily when we love ourselves is we learn to speak our truth.


Many of us have been lying to ourselves for a long time. We don’t know how to radically speak our truth anymore because we’re so careful not to upset or offend those who matter to us. 


You’re afraid to rock the boat because you’ve been walking on eggshells most of your life.

Well love,it’s time to make an omelette. 


Part of loving yourself is learning how to set and hold boundaries when it’s hard.


You know the old joke, “Why did The Narcissist cross the road? Because he thought it was a boundary.”


When you Love Yourself, you stop waiting for others to get it and you start respecting yourself. You start by respecing your own boundaries and stop betraying yourself, going back on your own words. 


We’ve got a good start to learning how to love yourself. But the truth is, we know nothing unless we are demonstrating it.


I want to help you deepen your understanding and learn how to walk your talk.


This work is so important for me for many reasons. But it’s not  just because I teach this and I certify  LYFE coaches, of course these are BIG reasons to do this work. 


But the thing that means the most to me is watching my daughter, knowing I broke a toxic, dysfunctional cycle of playing and hurting from deep seeded self hatred.


When I look at her, I see an unleashed human being who is radically approving of herself. She feels her worth at her core and knows her  value and doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. It’s her nature.


It’s pretty miraculous to watch and I think that’s your nature too.


I believe you were born with that same knowing until somebody talked you out of it and you forgot how magnificent you are.


Let me come alongside you and take you on a  journey back to your true nature.


Coach Heidi

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