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Is a lack of self-love leading to unhealthy coping methods?

Lack of self-love for oneself, makes itself known in some obvious ways and in some subtle ways.

Some coping methods can be argued as “Just having a good time“, “Letting off some steam“, or “Going out of your way for others because its in your nature“. Any of these sound familiar?

In high school, I constantly tried to reassure myself that my unhealthy coping habits were circumstantial, but when I embarked on my self-love journey, it became obvious that these habits were a crutch that I leaned into heavily, to avoid facing the uncomfortable emotions that I wanted to run from.

From my own experience in high school and throughout my career as a Self-Love Coach, there are three major unhealthy coping methods that I see women, of all ages, ethnicities and religions, lean into:

Engaging in numbing substances

Whether it be drinking, drugs or too much exercise, numbing yourself out ultimately serves as a band aid, relieving you temporarily from feeling emotional pain. Numbing substances also influence your behavior or mood. Drinking can make you more bubbly and carefree. Exercising can give you that addictive natural runners high. And drugs, the most dangerous of all, gives you the “best” of both worlds.

Serial Dating

It’s easy for women to convince themselves that they are looking for Mr. Right, but constantly seeking new romantic relationships, one after the other, wrecks havoc on your relationship with yourself. Oftentimes, women who serial date, do so because they feel uncomfortable being alone with themselves. This usually stems from a flimsy sense of self. With all that time alone, their uncertain feelings about themselves feel overwhelming. Serial dating is yet another band-aid approach to avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Don’t be fooled by its charismatic façade, serial dating is just as harmful and addictive as numbing substances.

People Pleasing

People pleasing seems like the least dangerous coping method when compared to the intense emotions of romantic relationships and numbing substances, but this coping method falls under the category of silent but deadly. People pleasing is when you sacrifice your authenticity for someone else’s happiness. As women, there is a long list of ideals that society wants us to portray: beautiful, successful, nurturing, responsible, confident (but not too confident), etc.. With this long checklist of expectations, women are set up everyday to feel like they aren’t good enough.

So what do we do?

We people please! We think that if we can make others happier, we’ll be 1% closer to this ideal image. The dangerous consequence women face when they sacrifice their authenticity to make another happier, to feel more validated and secure, is that it actually drains our power. Our own wants and needs become muffled by everyone elses. Eventually, having a direct connection to what we want and need becomes elusive to us and leads to a fractured sense of self-worth.

When your sense of self-worth is damaged, repairing it must become the first and foremost priority along your journey to self-love. Self-worth is similar to a house, its the foundation and is the most important aspect of a strong and stable home. It won’t matter how beautiful the matte black modern sconces are or the color of the siding if the foundation is cracked. Self-worth is the foundation of having a healthy, strong and stable relationship with yourself that lasts the test of time. People pleasing constantly chips away at your self-worth, threatening to crumble your relationship with yourself.

How do I overcome these unhealthy coping habits?

Conquering these unhealthy coping habits starts with a keen sense of self-awareness.

Start by journaling your reflections on how often you engage in these coping habits. Then ask yourself, “What triggers me to engage in these practices?“, “Am I being encouraged/influenced by the people I spend most of my time with to engage in these practices?”, “How do I feel before I engage in these practices?”, “How do I feel after?“.

These are just a few questions to help you to develop self-awareness and peel back the layers of yourself, otherwise known as self-discovery. Self-discovery, like self-worth, is an important component needed to elevate your relationship with yourself. Self-discovery is a dedicated, committed and non-judgmental practice of gaining insight into all of the tiny details that make you, YOU. It’s also a practice that embraces the past experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.

Self-discovery is typically a difficult layer for women to navigate on their own. Facing the uncomfortable emotions they have been avoiding, and facing them head on, can feel crippling. There are a lot of “ugly” parts throughout everyone’s journeys that are painful to revisit. I encourage you to look at the process of self-discovery through the lens of self-love and embrace the mindset that, “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.”

Your difficult experiences, including your experiences engaging in unhealthy coping methods, are worthy of being embraced wholeheartedly. The more compassion you show yourself and the more self-aware you become, the easier it will be to drop these unhealthy habits and start practicing other habits that support and encourage your most loving authentic self to shine.

Xoxo,

Elena

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