Be better BECAUSE you love yourself, not SO THAT you can love yourself.

If you don’t already know, I grew up as a competitive gymnast. As an adult, I now see that a lot of my fears/insecurities/traumas are from this period of my life, both because I was a developing child, and because gymnastics was intense. Now, I’ve known this, and I’ve been working through these fears over the last few years pretty seriously. Made a bunch of headway, to the point where I am usually not triggered into fear or self-doubt anymore. 


But I just noticed a new one: 


I won’t be loved unless I do better. 


Let me explain. 


Part of the reason I liked gymnastics so much is because it is so difficult. I was never very competitive against others, but SUPER competitive against myself, and I liked the challenge. I was put in the advanced group in gym, not because I was better than the others, but because I worked my ass off and beat myself up until I did better. I had a hard time quitting. I probably wanted to quit like 25 times before I actually did, and even then, I quit the team, but then started high school gymnastics, and then a year later went back to the team again. Ha. I don’t like to give up on being better. 


Maybe this is why I take to self-growth and teaching so well. I love dissecting what’s not working, and making it workable! I love breaking down concepts and movements in order to understand them and enhance them. I love finding ways to grow, so that I can show up even better than yesterday. 


So tonight, I had a conversation with a friend. This friend has been like my life coach. In so many ways, this relationship was incredible for me, my growth, and our love. But also, tonight it really hit me that, “life coach” sort of became new version of gymnastics coach in my mind, in that I needed to be better for her in order to be good enough for myself.


When I was a gymnast I felt like I was not worthy, unless my coach said good job. If I didn’t do well, I was yelled at, punished with conditioning, and made fun of, sometimes in abusive ways. So only when I did well, did I earn love (or what felt like love, in my mind). That was a learned understanding of love and worthiness. As an adult, that sunk in and became a part of me: “I’m only lovable if I DO good enough” is the underlying belief I’ve lived with. 


As I mentioned, I’ve spent years re-wiring this “not good enough” feeling, and working on loving myself. But in talking to my friend tonight, I realized, up until just recently, I was still seeking relationships (friendships, mentors, romance) that would push me to be better, so that I could continue to prove that I’m good enough so that I could be loved. Phew. 


Now, this is super subtle stuff, because I want to be clear that this wanting to be better part of me has helped me grow IMMENSELY, and I love it, and am thankful for it. And I still absolutely want relationships that help me grow. However, when my self-worth is dependent upon me being better than I already am, then I can never just be. So that’s when it gets a little tricky. 

In seeing this tonight, I realized I have already, naturally, begun to shift out of that need to prove my worth. And, now that I see it clearly, I can be sure to continue on that path. :)


In sharing this, I want to pass along two messages.


  1. Note that most of our strengths have a negative/triggered/toxic side to them. Notice the thing you do really well, and check out if there is part of you that is dependent on that thing in order to love yourself.
  2. Why is this even a bad/unhealthy thing? Well, it’s conditional. It’s “I will love myself only IF I am this way”. It is not actually love, and those conditions that we put on ourselves are a big part of our self-doubt, anger, and lack of love all around. 


Does that mean you love yourself if you are fat slob that sits on the couch all day? Yes. Does that mean you should be a fat slob that sits on the couch all day? Mmmm, probably not? Unless that’s you’re true calling. :-P 


Unconditional love doesn’t mean careless love, it just means, move from love. Know you are worthy of love. AND, push yourself to grow and be better because you love yourself, not so that you can love yourself.