My Ongoing Journey to Self-Love: Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

I was just sitting here on my couch, listening to the rain, watching the flames of the candles, sipping on my coffee and reading The Four Agreements aloud to myself, when I started zoning out.

What started as a glance at the window to appreciate the sunlight that shined through, turned into me staring into empty space for what seemed like five minutes straight. And then I realized what was happening. I was writing.

Most, if not all, of my writing happens in my head first. And if I’m lucky, I’m able to grab my laptop or jot something down on my phone to record whatever I’m constructing in my head.

So here I am.

My last post about self-love was, and probably will always be, the most important piece I’ve written, for me. I was balling my eyes out when I typed those words, because there was weight to what I said. I meant it. And it felt so good to finally say that I love myself, and believe it.

But, this self-love journey doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a constant process. I work at it every day, and by doing so, I’ve already learned so much about myself these past few weeks.

With that said, I wanted to share a few points with you, and also offer some tips that were given to me if you need help in this department.

1. I Compare Myself Too Much: I would constantly size myself up to someone else. We all do it, and sometimes we don’t realize it, but it’s such a soul sucker. And it happens so quickly, too.

You’re on Instagram, then you see a pretty girl, so you go to her page and start stalking her life, and all of a sudden you’re like–How is she so pretty? She seems so cool. Her life is amazing, blah blah blah. And then you wonder why your life isn’t like that.

First of all, it’s Instagram. We portray the life we want people to believe we have. Second of all, who cares about that girl? Or any girl? Or anyone? They don’t take away anything in your life…unless you let them.

Instead of comparing, I’m learning to admire. I can admire a beautiful woman, a hustler, a level-headed human being. And I can understand that her bright light doesn’t dim my own.

Let’s say that again, shall we?

Just because another person’s light is shining bright, does not mean it has to dim my own.

There is enough room for all of us to shine. The only person allowing someone else to cast a shadow over your luminosity is yourself.

2. My All-or-Nothing Mentality Was Fueled by My Insecurities: I always say I’m a black-and-white person who lives in a world of gray. All or nothing. No maybes. No nothing. You either want me or you don’t. And there’s still a little bit of truth there, but there’s also a big problem with that mentality.

In the past, if I met someone who I am attracted to, I instantly jump about 100 steps. “Hi, I’m Bruna. Oh yeah, cool. So are we dating or what?” LOL!

I was never very good at things happening organically and naturally with someone I really liked. “Just go with the flow, Bruna…,” was the first thing I’d hear from absolutely every single person I know (including my mother) when I’d tell them about a guy I was into.

SPOILER ALERT! I’d never go with the flow. We’d talk for about a nano-second, and then if he wasn’t all about Bruna all the time, I’d be like, bye forever. Don’t be my friend. Don’t talk to me.

And I finally realized why I’d do that…

I was afraid that when the time came, I wouldn’t be chosen.

Here’s this guy I like, and I’m going with the flow, and I’m just seeing what happens without placing expectations or a time constraint or an all-or-nothing ultimatum–but what if he ends up not wanting me at all? That thought put my insecurities into overdrive, so I’d cut it off before getting cut off.

This is a harder flaw to fix, because I have to constantly remind myself that I’m worth being chosen, and if he doesn’t ultimately want to be with me, then it is what it is. What’s meant for me is always for me.

All easier said than done, especially when you’re trying to silence the voices in your head that try to make you believe you’re not the shit.

But I’m doing it. And I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter who a guy talks to, or meets up with, or dates or whatever. It’s not about her. It’s about me. I shouldn’t have to beg for love and attention. If it isn’t given to me freely, it isn’t worth having.

The right guy will recognize what I bring to the table, and refuse to let me eat alone again.

3. I Was Placing the Responsibility of Filling My Void on Others: Because I didn’t love myself, I wanted someone else to make me feel like I was worth loving so that I could believe it.

I thought about that a lot the other day, specifically in relation to the guy who broke my heart last year, and came upon the realization that I was placing too much responsibility on someone else to do a job that was only meant for me.

There were so many qualities in that man that made it easy to put him on a pedestal. He was handsome, funny, caring, honest, romantic, intellectual, and most importantly, he saw me. I can’t really explain what I mean by that other than I finally felt seen by someone who didn’t need me to explain anything. He just got me. And that is a very rare and beautiful feeling.

With all that combined, I put him on this pedestal. And in my head, I was like, “Man, if this guy can love me, then I’m worth loving.”

Wrong. So wrong. That was a reflection of my insecurities.

It was never, and should never, be his or anyone else’s task to make me feel like I am worth loving. That’s my job. And I was so angry when he left, because it made me feel worthless.

I always imagine what I’d do if I saw him or spoke to him again, and over the last year, the response has been a roller coaster. Some days I’d think that I’d just pretend he didn’t exist. Other days, I’d think that I’d cuss him out and rip him a new one. But today, I think I’d just say thank you.

I would have never known how much more growing I needed to do if I didn’t get heartbroken like that. And why was I so mad? Because he wasn’t ready? That’s not his fault. In fact, I should be grateful that a man who deems himself unready for a woman like me bows out instead of running games and ultimately messing me up even worse in the long run.

He respected me and my heart enough to know that he couldn’t give me what I deserve, even in a time when I couldn’t acknowledge what I deserve.

4. My Night of Epiphanies: I recently had a few girlfriends over for some wine and games and chit-chat.

Let me start by saying, I only surround myself with dope people. If you’re someone I choose to spend my time with, it’s because I admire your character and I feel like we can add to each others’ lives. One of these ladies is one of my best friends who I adore. The other two I didn’t know that well, but I knew they were people I wanted to be around. And I gained so much insight that night.

While talking about love and everything that has to do with it, one of the girls said, “I respect my time so much, so I need you to respect it, too. If we make plans for dinner at 6, and I’m cooking for you, and it’s passed 6 and I haven’t heard from you, no one’s checkin’ on you. I’m not waiting. I’m gonna wrap up your food and call my friends and ask if they wanna eat.”

I loved that.

My initial response in a scenario like that probably would have been texts and calls to see where they were at, then sitting there and waiting with cold food on the table for someone I already know isn’t showing up.

I remember sitting there and listening to her speak and admiring how solid and grounded she was. How easily she exuded this confidence and knew her worth. You need to be like, Bruna.

She also said that it’s important to have the love you give, replenished to the same extent. As a giver, I connected with that. I give and give and give, and no one’s filling me back up. So I end up drained. Yes, I need to be full within myself, but if you’re exerting this time and energy into someone else, you need to be aware of whether they’re sucking you dry or if they’re investing in you, too. Sometimes we get so clouded by wanting to be there for someone we care about, that we forget they need to be there for us, too. It’s not expecting too much. It’s respect. It’s love.

That night ended with my best girlfriend spending the night, and we were tired as shit, but we still lied in bed in complete darkness and talked about all kinds of things like two little girls at summer camp.

When I was opening up about my flaws and insecurities and the things I’m now discovering about myself, I told her, with my eyes closed and half asleep, “I’m going to focus on myself and make that a priority, so that anyone who crosses my path will only add to the love that is already there.”

She responded, “Bruna, I know you’re comfortable, but you need to wake up and write that down.”

I woke up. I wrote it in my journal. I say it to myself every day.

“I’m going to focus on myself and make that a priority, so that anyone who crosses my path will only add to the love that is already there.” 

This brings me to my tips. These are things some of the wonderful people in my life have suggested I do, and it’s been very helpful.

1. Write Yourself a Love Letter: Every night before bed, I write in my journal. But I don’t just write about my day. I write a love letter to myself. I remind myself of the traits and characteristics I embody that I admire. And then the next morning, I read that letter aloud to myself. It’s a great start to the day.

2. Meditation: Instead of my usual 30 minutes in silence, I got Spotify so that I could listen to Gabrielle Bernstein’s “Medidating” podcasts. They’re short but useful, and I can always use some time in the day where I don’t let my thoughts consume me.

3. She’s Beauty and the Beast: My girl Tracy G. is an absolute angel on Earth, and the one whose given me these and many more tips. In addition to sending me texts that help put my mind and heart at ease, she creates audio visual boards called She’s Beauty and the Beast that are just too spot on. Listening to her wisdom and reading her newsletters truly help me get my mind right.

4. Make Yourself a Priority: It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Don’t get caught up with distractions. Don’t try to seek attention to fill a void that you’re refusing to acknowledge or work on yourself. That’s putting a temporary bandage on a permanent wound. Go through the motions and really get to know who you are, because chances are you’re missing out on a super dope individual.

5. Seek Help: Lastly, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. It might be a journey of self-love, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. I confide in those I trust the most, and their enlightenment is what fuels me to keep going. If you feel like you don’t have someone to talk to, you’re wrong. You have me. Drop me a line, and we’ll go through this together: bruna@theproblemwithdating.com

As always, thank you for reading this monster post and sharing your time with me.

I appreciate you.

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2 Comments

  • Beautiful piece Bruna, I feel I could relate to this post a lot. I am currently talking to this woman I met on Tinder. We’ve had four great dates and so far this feels right. But there are times where I find myself very insecure, wondering the ‘what if’ situations with her and the negative self talk comes in where I start to think if I’m enough for her or am I being replaced by another tinder match. All this talk in my head made me realize how insecure I am and how my past has a lot to do with how I love today. So I’ve been texting my friends asking for advice on how to proceed on keeping things going with her.
    And I’ve reached the point where I’ve done most the work so far, in terms of pursuing, setting up dates, conversation etc. I’ve come to realize that it’s now her turn to put in the work because I’ve done almost everything so far, so relying on her to reciprocate that type of effort is my biggest fear. But it is very necessary in order to see where I stand in this relationship. She’s had her moments where she’s given her effort but I know more needs to come if she’s truly committed to me and that idea alone scares me. Cause if I’m important enough she’ll make time and she’s done that so far but only with me taking initiative to hangout, I need her pursue me now. I’ve told myself no matter what happens the wheels keep rolling, I keep moving on whether she steps up or backs out. It’s a scary thought for me but I know it has to be done.
    Reading your post help me realize that I need to take this time to love myself instead of buying into the fear created in my head. The regardless of what happens this week or next I need to love myself, whether she steps up to the plate or counts me out. Cause at the end of the day I have to have love in order to give it. Your post made realize that I am not alone out there and I thank you for that.

  • Bruna,

    I absolutely love this, all of what you just wrote applies to me right now (and I am a guy). I grew up with a bunch of women, so I am very in touch with my emotions and sometimes get wrapped up in conversations in my head that never happen with that person in real life. Kinda weird, I know, but I think you understand.
    I have been on a journey of learning about myself and loving my for who I am, how I am and why I am. What makes me me, is me! Not anyone else, no matter how much you try to rely on positive affirmation from someone else, you will never be truly happy. That makes it hard to fit someone else into a relationship, because you just aren’t ready to love someone and accept them for who they are, how they are and why they are if you don’t first love and accept yourself.
    This blog is just amazing, keep it going. It is not only helping you, its helping others too!
    It’s time to stop judging ourselves and putting other people on a pedestal, I have done this way too many times. It is toxic for a relationship and even unhealthy for a friendship. You have to be on the same level in your own mind, and you both have to be investing in the friend or relationship for it to work. It’s a one way road with one speed limit, go with the flow. =)
    I love that you write yourself a letter in your journal and then read it in the morning when you wake up, that is so wonderful for your overall mental health. Not relying on someone to make your day or tell you “You are beautiful,” but instead telling it to yourself in many ways is great positive reinforcement to start your day.
    I have stickers that says “You are beautiful” and I have it on a mirror, and on the fridge, so when I see it, i basically say it out loud to myself and smile. I gave one to one of my bestie and told her to put it on her mirror as well. They are stickers that are supposed to be handed out to people simply just to make them smile. =) I love doing that.

    Anyways, hope you have a wonderful day and I look forward to hearing about your journey continued in your next post.

    -Matt Kiss

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