Love heals. Specifically self-love. But it requires a healthy ego that works to connect your mind, body, and soul. Learn how to heal your ego inside this post.
I got into the health space wanting desperately to fix people, believing if I could fix them, I could fix myself.
I didn’t call it that at the time. Honestly, my heart hurt over how much time people invested into the health space that seemed to take more than it gave back. Growing up, I watched countless women I know give everything, even losing themselves to something that made them more miserable than when they started.
They chased a place people told them would make them happy.
Yet, few arrived. It was a vicious cycle of self-hate that I desperately wanted to break, for them, but also for me.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized the hard way no one in the history of the world has ever hated themselves healthy.
Hate and healing do not go together.
They’re antagonists. Yet the only thing we know about getting healthy has been a form of self-escape related to self-hate. But this isn’t the way. It can’t be.
In this podcast, I tell you why self-hate and disassociation prevent you from healing. I also share the survival mechanism of your ego that turns self-hate into self-inflammation, masking self-hate in artificial forms of self-love but in ways that leave people sick, lonely, overwhelmed, and even hopeless. Instead, the answer is love, and yes, even self-love.
How You Heal: Breaking Self-Hate
Love is a hard topic to grapple with. It hurts and ignites pain. It feels fleeting. Yet we long for the fairy-tale-like love we’ve read in countless books. The unconditional, never-ending, soul-mate kind of love. A kind that does exist, although perhaps not in a human way, but a love that only God can give.
Perhaps even more difficult, especially in the Christian space, is the theology that makes you believe self-love is selfish. That self-love is sinful. Leaving you with no other option but to hate yourself because if you can’t love yourself, you have nothing else.
I know most people don’t call it self-hate because often, the hate you have gets masked into self-inflation and self-flattery that looks like self-confidence. Or on the other end of the spectrum, masked in self-denial, that comes with a deep-seated pride. Both ends of the spectrum create a dysregulation that prevents you from living as intended, giving to the world and others around you, not in a sacrificial way but out of the overflow.
Out of truly loving yourself.
But when you get stuck in self-hate, you have no option but to self-protect. You might not recognize it, but the self-protection mechanisms you ignite when you ignore yourself or live out self-hate is an inflated ego or what’s considered an unhealthy ego.
What is your ego?
Your ego creates your sense of personal identity and feelings of self-importance. It helps you differentiate from others and understand and appreciate your ‘uniqueness’ as a human. It’s the part of you that creates your sense of “self.” In fact, the English word “ego” is the Latin word for “I.”
When someone behaves egotistically, they are pursuing their own goals. But when taken to the extreme, it can quickly become centered on what “I want.”
Another word defining ego is egocentrism. Although the word has been used in several ways, the best definition comes down to receiving the world and interpreting events from a personal vantage point.
Inherently, we are all egocentric. Partially, this is because there are limited ways to understand and process information except within our personal frame of reference. But also because it’s a form of survival that keeps us focused on what we need to maintain life. This is why the more people try to “die to themselves” or “sacrifice” for the sake of someone else, actually become egotistic.
The healthy ego turns unhealthy by neglecting self-love.
Self-love, not self-denial, creates the safety and freedom to humble yourself, understand others, and think of yourself less (not as less, but just less) so you can give more.
Unhealthy Ego Is Survival
A key aspect of survival is meeting your basic needs. When your needs go unmet, like undereating or not finding appropriate shelter, in time, you could die. It sounds extreme, but it’s the power of the underlying safety mechanism to get you to perform lifesaving, necessary tasks that can only be accomplished by thinking about yourself.
Take, for example, dieting. Dieting forces you to ignore your body in an effort to change it. In the process, you become more fixated on yourself. You become obsessed with your body, what you eat, and everything about yourself. Dieting creates patterns of self-inflation birthed out of an unhealthy or threatened ego.
The less you pay attention to yourself and love and care for yourself, the larger your ego becomes to the point where you literally can’t think of anything but yourself.
No matter how much you mask your life in artificial forms of self-love, the unhealthy ego exists only because of self-hate or a lack of self-care. The kind of self-care that comes without expectations of change but is done only to care for yourself.
A Healthy Ego Creates Internal Safety
A healthy ego understands its place, feels confident, has a sense of grounding, and lives within established boundaries birthed out of its identity. It is resilient, it’s giving, and it’s loving.
It is not perfection. A healthy ego recognizes its limitations and can acknowledge the whole self. It is not scared to show vulnerability but embraces every part of you, the good and the bad, as a means of living and growth. In the process, it acts in self-love. A healthy ego understands its value regardless of anything else and works to care for your whole. Unfortunately, humans tend to have a skewed view of what self-love is.
Unlike our human, relational love, which is often conditional love that gives while demanding a return. But true self-love is not about what you do but what it’s something your receive.
Self-love is similar to the Biblical love God gifted us of unconditional love. Unconditional love is not a metric or a value you must meet. It’s not a standard. It’s a gift. And because of that, you are loved regardless of your flaws and imperfections. That is self-love. It’s receiving a gift knowing you’re valuable beyond anything else. Accepting this means you get to stop working to achieve love and start to live it out.
When you accept this type of love as a gift and step into self-love, you realize nothing can hurt you, at least not in the way the world makes you fear. Yes, you will experience hurt, but the hurt doesn’t have to change you. It can grow you.
You can experience hardship without being overcome by it.
You can feel without fearing your feelings but sitting with them until they pass. In the process, you create this deep sense of safety that opens you up to healing and, more importantly, to live. This fosters a healthy ego, producing the safety you need to heal.
Healing is love, and love is healing.
5 Ways To Open Up To Self Love & Create a Healthy Ego
Shifting your understanding of self-love can be challenging. Considering many examples of self-love, even the self-love industry is created from the unhealthy ego.
But true self-love is acknowledging yourself in all of its imperfections, flaws, and wrongs, seeing through it to live out the good. There is something the world needs, and the only way they can experience that is by creating internal safety from self-love. Here are a few ways to shift your view of self-love.
01. Acknowledge Your Worth Outside of Anything Else
One of the most important things you can do is to understand your worth outside of anything else. Your value is not (and can not be) based on how you parent, the success of your career, or how you look. Your worth does not depend on how much money you make, what you do, your gifts, strengths, or weaknesses. It’s knowing outside of everything, you are valuable. It’s knowing God created you on purpose and with purpose. Regardless of what you do, you have value.
When you understand that value, you free yourself from needing to perform or achieve. Not to take away your drive but only to enhance it, allowing you to take greater risks, open up to more opportunities and fully live life.
02: Stop Trying to Earn It and Just Recieve It
Love isn’t something you can earn. Just like salvation, it was a gift. Christ died a brutal death on the cross, not only knowing your sin and shame, but he did it for those things. He did it to take those burdens away so you could live free.
Your life is not a metric of what you can or can’t do. It’s not about being good or bad. It’s only and always about Christ and living out of that gift. Stop trying to earn your place and open your hands to receive it. Receive his love, let it infiltrate the deepest parts of your being, and let it be the energy of your life.
03. See Yourself as a Masterpiece (Not damaged Goods)
The world is quick to remind people of their problems. In fact, we’re a problem-focused world. Whether that is a weight problem, a marital problem, a work problem, or a health problem, the world is so quick to remind us of our problems it’s hard to imagine anything else.
But what you give attention to gives it the energy to grow. Focusing on your problems only allows them to continue to exist. Not to mention it distracts you from the solution. Yes, you are broken. In a way, you are damaged goods. But focusing on that makes you miss the power of God and the way he patched you together and created you perfectly. He called you a masterpiece. Start to see yourself in that way.
04: Change the story of self-love
I grew up believing self-love was selfish. The only thing I was supposed to do was die to myself for the sake of someone else. Ironically, this way of life only inflates you. In many ways, it makes you your own God. I know out of experience. It takes your ego and inflates it out of survival. In the process, it made God smaller, not larger.
But when I started to understand God in his bigness, I realized God was not calling me to become smaller because that only made him smaller. He wanted me to become larger, so I could see him in all his glory! And living that out meant healing my understanding of self-love. Understanding true self-love frees you from the need to think less of yourself or more of yourself but simply think of yourself less.
Self-love takes the focus off you and allows you to invest in the greater purpose you were created for. But you must change the story from selfish and see it as good. Change your story to live a better one.
05: Live it out & take action
Like all beliefs, they become more resilient through action. Acting outside self-love breaks down the belief, leaving you to live with the near-enemy of love. It leaves you attaching yourself to other humans to find love or working to achieve it. It twists love into events that leave you running from yourself and onto something else.
When you take action, it creates a vote of confidence, a sense of safety, a purpose so great that you begin to experience the joy of it, and that joy leaves you wanting to live more of it.
The only way to break the self-hate pattern is by creating a new self-love practice formed from the belief that you do love yourself. In the process, this changes what you do and the outcome you experience.
You have to love yourself to heal.
We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19
A FEW MORE THINGS YOU MIGHT LIKE
How You Heal is an 8-part podcast series devoted to understanding and healing the mind-body connection to create wholeness in your life. Continue following along and listening to the remaining five podcasts, creating a new understanding and implementing healing practices.
Check out these additional resources to help you heal:
- How You Heal: Shifting Your Perspective on Health
- How You Heal: Regulate Your Nervous System
- Does God Care About Your Health?
- How Healthy Are You? Take the quiz to find out…
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