How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

Your search for “how to love myself” is how it starts. These 7 tips for loving yourself will help you feel happier, healthier, and more hopeful – especially if you feel like you’re not good enough. Your relationships will improve and you’ll have the strength you need to face whatever comes your way.

On How to Feel Better About Yourself, I described how I grew up not feeling good enough. I actually hated myself. I always blamed my feelings of low self-worth on my schizophrenic mother and absent father (I didn’t meet him until I was 29 years old, when I travelled to Israel and knocked on his door). I couldn’t commit to a long-term relationship because I didn’t feel good enough to be loved. I didn’t know how to love myself, so I couldn’t love others. But my life is very different now – and here’s what I’ve learned about loving yourself.

Do you feel bad about yourself? Unworthy? Unlovable? Maybe you even hate yourself, like I did. Maybe you feel stupid, fat, and ugly – and maybe you do bad things to your body and spirit because you think you deserve to be treated poorly. Here, you’ll find 7 ways to start learning how to love yourself when you don’t feel good enough.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why self-love is so important
  • 10 tips on how to love yourself when you don’t feel good enough
  • Brian’s story – how he learned to love himself

I also share how Brian and I are different. He says looking inward is the source of self-love and self-acceptance…and I disagree.

Stay open to different ideas for loving yourself. You might be surprised to find what works and what doesn’t! Open your mind and spirit, and allow the still small voice to shine light into the dark places of your soul.

Why self-love is so important

Without a healthy sense of self-love you can’t bring your full, whole, unique, authentic and free self into this world. You can’t develop positive relationships or a meaningful purpose in your life unless you know how to love and care for yourself.

“I am 58 years old and for the first time in my entire life, I am genuinely happy,” says Brian in Learning to Love Yourself on the Canadian Mental Health website. “I am happy with the person I have become. Because I made the decision to work on my relationship with myself, I am able to do what I truly love the most. I am able to develop positive relationships with others and help others who have been through similar issues.”

Learning how to love yourself gives you the freedom to do what you truly love the most in life. You’ll be able to find healthy people to have good relationships with, and you’ll help others cope with their own struggles. You’ll move from not feeling good enough to feeling like you have the strength and power to handle anything that comes your way.

7 Ways to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

Here’s the quick list:

  1. Recognize the signs of self-hatred or shame in your life
  2. Find your why
  3. Open up to someone you trust – let the light in
  4. Learn how others started loving themselves
  5. Give yourself time
  6. Listen to the still small voice
  7. Crack open your soul and let the light in

Don’t try to incorporate all these tips into your life at once! It’s too much. Rather, pick just one of these tips and focus on it for the next 24 hours. See how it works for you. If you found it helpful, then try it for another 24 hours. If the tip doesn’t resonate with you, try something else on this list.

1. Recognize the signs of self-hatred, shame, and pain in your life

How do you know you need to learn how to love yourself? There are signs in your life that you aren’t happy, that you don’t feel good enough, and that you need to learn self-love. Sometimes these signs are obvious. For example, I wrote “I hate myself” in my diary when I was in grade 8. And when I was in university. And when I was in my mid-30s.

  • Other signs of self-hatred or pain could be:
  • Cutting or physical self-harm
  • Drug or alcohol addictions
  • Financial debt
  • Overeating, anorexia, or other eating disorders
  • Promiscuity
  • Perfectionism
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Stealing
  • Cruelty or violence to yourself or others

When you don’t feel good enough, you do things that hurt yourself and others. Maybe you sabotage your career by making bad choices, or you destroy your relationships by cheating or lying. Learning how to love yourself when you feel ugly and sad is so important. And, learning how to stop living in the past is one of the best ways to learn how to love yourself…even when you don’t feel good enough.

2. Find your why

What is your reason for wanting to learn self-love? Maybe you want to forgive yourself for something in your past, or you want to build healthier relationships in your life. Maybe you’re sick and tired of feeling fat and ugly. Why do you want to learn how to love yourself? What can self-love bring to your life?

How to Love Myself Not Good Enough

How to Love Myself

Your reason for doing anything in your life has to be founded on a strong sense of “why.” Unless you have a solid purpose, you won’t stay motivated to keep going through the bleak dark dry valleys.

The key is finding YOUR why. If you don’t have a purpose, you’ll find it difficult to learn how to love yourself. If you don’t know your reasons for learning how to love yourself, you won’t succeed.

3. Open up to someone you trust – let the light in

Talking about what you’re going through can help you heal the pain and shame of not feeling good enough. If you shine light on the dark places, you’ll find freedom and peace. Sharing your struggle is one of the best things you’ll ever do. Talk about the fact that you don’t feel good enough, that you need to learn how to love yourself. Come out into the light. Tell your story. Open up and be authentic, so you can recover.

I remember feeling so ashamed and bad about my mom’s schizophrenia. Her appearance, actions, words…it was so hard to admit that she was my mother.  She’d show up at school and I’d run and hide. She’d call me on the phone, and I’d press the phone hard against my ear so the people around me couldn’t hear her yelling weird stuff.

When I finally started telling my friends that my mom is schizophrenic, I was shocked at their reactions! They were supportive, kind, understanding, and accepting. I thought I had this deep dark secret that I needed to hide…but people were actually so nice about it. I couldn’t believe it – the dirty ugly beast of a secret that I had been hiding for so long was actually a tiny kitten.

4. Learn how others started loving themselves

Telling your story is the first step to learning how to love yourself; the second step is asking people about their relationship to their own selves. This isn’t a big secret to self-love! Alcoholics Anonymous and a gazillion other recovery-based support groups have been uniting to share stories for decades. People have gathered in groups for centuries, to know and be know.

Sharing who you really are – and what you’re struggling with – will lift the weight of the world off your shoulders. Asking others how they learned to love themselves will give you practical ideas for coping with not feeling good enough. Ask me how I learned to love myself in the comments section below. Or, here’s what you could say to someone you trust: “Have you ever felt not good enough? How did you get past your feelings of unworthiness, and learn how to love yourself?”

Rising Strong How to Love YourselfIn Rising Strong, Brene Brown says walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged.

Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives.

Rising strong after a fall is how you learn how to cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s not easy to tell people that you don’t feel good enough – or that you need to learn how to love yourself – but I can almost guarantee you’ll feel so much better when you do. Just make sure to tell someone you know you can trust.

5. Give yourself time

No overnight success stories here! Here’s what Brian says about not feeling good enough:

how to love yourself“This self-hatred that had consumed me for so many years has now disappeared. I now realize that I know I am a good human being and that I do matter, regardless of what I was told by my parents my entire life. In fact, I am so incredibly content with myself that I have forgiven my parents.  I now realize that my parents also had a poor upbringing, and I can understand where their actions and words were coming from.”

Forgiveness is a huge step towards learning how to love yourself. You need to forgive the source of your self-hatred (for me, it was my parents). You need to forgive yourself for the choices and regrets you have.

Learning how to love yourself takes time and effort…but it is SO worth it! The freedom, joy, and peace that comes from self-love is priceless.

6. Listen to the still small voice

This is Brian’s tip for learning how to love yourself:

“I spent so much of my life longing for external acceptance from others that I never looked within myself,” he says. “I never listened to my internal feelings, I never put myself first. Working on developing a stronger sense of self is not an easy task, neither is learning how to love myself…Working on small aspects of yourself every day is how we can all begin to learn to love ourselves and let go of that guilt and pain that we are all so familiar with.”

Developing a stronger sense of yourself is one way to overcome feelings of not being good enough. It didn’t work for me, though. I don’t have enough love or spirit to fill myself with an endless source of peace, joy, and compassion. I need God’s flow of life, freedom, and love.

7. Crack open your soul and let the light in

The only way to learn how to love yourself is to accept love from a perfect source. You can’t engineer or create your own source of love. A human can’t give you the love you need. A possession or situation can’t stop you from not feeling good enough.

Opening your soul to God – who is the only source of pure, unconditional, perfect love – is the key to learning how to love yourself. Accepting His love, basking in His warm light of acceptance and grace, and filling up on His Spirit is the only way you’ll ever get enough love.

how to love yourself good enoughIn The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself: How Loving Yourself the Way God Does Can Bring Healing and Freedom to Your Life, Jerry and Denise Basel reveal how to stop punishing yourself for not being good enough. They’ll teach you how to love yourself the way God loves you.

Imagine how different things could be: The lies you’ve believed about yourself all these years – dispelled. The wounds of abuse – healed. Your future lit with hope, peace, and purpose. Your closeness with God and others deepened immeasurably. The true, heaven-born you free at last to live a life unclouded by shame, guilt, and fear and empowered to love others fully.

What do you think?

Which tip resonates with you the most…and the least? Maybe you like the idea of talking to others about self-love, or maybe you’re stuck on cracking open your soul and letting God in. Maybe you hate the idea of learning how to forgive yourself, or you know you need to learn how to let go of perfectionism.

Where you are is where you need to be right now. Trust that He will guide you to the best place. Trust, and take a risk. And take it one step at a time. Learning how to love yourself is a process that takes time to implement into your life.

If you want to make big changes in your life, read How to Reinvent Yourself When You Have No Guarantees.

Here’s a summary of my 7 tips on how to love myself:

  1. Recognize the signs of self-hatred or shame in your life
  2. Find your why
  3. Open up to someone you trust – let the light in
  4. Learn how others started loving themselves
  5. Give yourself time
  6. Listen to the still small voice
  7. Crack open your soul and let the light in

And here’s a reminder for you: Don’t try to incorporate all these tips on how to love yourself today! Rather, pick just one of these tips and focus on it for the next 24 hours. If it sits well with you, then continue for another 24 hours.

What’s your experience with learning how to love yourself, or not feeling good enough? Take time to listen to the still small voice inside of you. God’s abundant, deep, and healthy river of love is waiting for you.

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of learning how to love yourself. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.

P.S. My goal is to be like my dog. She doesn’t have to learn how to love herself; she never thinks of herself at all! She just exists in the moment. She loves sleep when she’s sleeping, she loves chasing and playing with other dogs when she’s at the dog park, and she loves eating her frozen peanut butter treats when she’s snacking in front of the fireplace. She doesn’t care what people think. She just is her pure authentic self in all situations.

Wouldn’t that be sweet?


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8 thoughts on “How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough”

  1. My parents feel that it is necessary to make me feel really bad when I forget to call them out make a decision they don’t agree with. I feel like I’ve been “shamed and blamed” my whole life. However they are quick to praise me for the good things. I feel very guilty when I’m angry about the shaming. Like I deserved it and I just need to be better. Can you give me some insight into this somewhat dysfunctional relationship? I’m 55 and its still going on!

  2. Hello Laurie,

    My name is Chau and sometimes people called me is Laura, and from Vietnam.

    Thank your article is really amazing. I have just escaped that problem from myself by many ways. that is surely my big problem in my life and the same family situation. I’ve been fought off less confidence, wrong right, family economic heavy in my shoulder and heart, big debt from my family, less understand from my parent…so I was being very loudly about my path caused no one sharing with me, I feel no one love me enough….and less confidence…

    I also on my way study social work too. It’s my career change….

    and also looking for right one after many time and time again.

    once again, thank you for your inspired article.

  3. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for taking the time to write an article concerning my questions. It was insightful and it will help many women, but I couldn’t relate to it personally. It’s very unfortunate that I can’t comprehen the enthralling things people boast about.
    It sounds like you have a intimate relationship with God! I’m happy for you !
    I always worked to prove to God and others that I’m worth it. I feel like a damage good that needs to tossed away already. I never found that happy place in my life. Do I have to experience sadness first to be happy?! I don’t like the story God has been writing. I want to ripe all the pages out and throw it in the trash. I’m done being the main character.

  4. Dear N,

    I’m sorry you’re struggling to feel God’s love – but I’m glad you’re wondering how to love yourself when you don’t feel good enough! The good news is the first step to finding yourself and being true to yourself is to wrestle with the exact questions you asked.

    Great questions, by the way, thank you for asking them. You are smart and self-aware, and I can tell that you want to grow and learn.

    You inspired me to write this article:
    How to Find God and Change Your Life Forever

    I had so much to share with you, I couldn’t just leave it all here in this comments section 🙂 I welcome your questions — and your thoughts.

    And, I will keep you in my prayers. May you find ways to love yourself no matter what the people around you say and think about you. May you open your heart to receiving God’s love, and may you know that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. You were created for a purpose, you were wonderfully and fearfully made, and God loves you deeply. He knows your name, He knows every hair on your head, and He wants you to be free of criticism, negativity, and suffering.

    In Christ,
    – Laurie

  5. How can God help me love myself? What will he do to make me feel that I’m significant, when many people failed to see it? If you don’t mind, how does God love you? I feel the individuals in my life haven’t displayed love in a way that I’m receptive to it.

    How can God help me feel good about myself? I’m not asking in a condescending manner, but out of curiosity. Does God treat all his children the same? Do all of his children experience the same amount of love through their darkest moments? What is love to you? Is it possible to love yourself and love others, and be content with that?

    I have concluded that love is not meant for me. I was created to love others and help them. What can love do for me and change my life? Do I need it to be great, successful, and a good person In life?

  6. Hello Betty, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m one of those children who will never stop believing 🙂

    I love how different people find different things helpful in life. We’re all so unique, and we have freedom to choose! In North America, anyway. My “Santa Claus” fills me with peace, love, joy, freedom, strength, and power — even when He doesn’t give me anything tangible. I’m just more alive when I’m connected with Him…and that’s how and why I stay in the palm of His Hand. He also helps me learn how to love myself when I don’t feel good enough.

    What fills you with love, joy, peace, power, strength, and freedom? I’d love to hear how you deal with those feelings of not being good enough, and how you’ve learned to love yourself. What do you believe in?

    In peace and passion,

  7. This was great until you ruined it in the part bout “god”. I’m an atheist, don’t believe in god whatsoever. I see religious folk as children who never stopped believing in Santa Claus. Its quite sad, really. Why are dysfunctional families always religious… Religion allows and excuses adults to be bad people