We Were Never Taught To Love Ourselves

Written By Ashleigh Coffelt

Author Bio: Ashleigh Coffelt is an award winning Filipino American director based in Los Angeles. Over the last few years, Ashleigh has written, directed, filmed and edited over 70 short films, 15 of which have screened at film festivals both internationally and nationally.  In addition to being a Sundance Screenwriter's Lab Semi-Finalist, she has been awarded numerous awards including “I For I” (director, cinematographer), winner of Best Director at Festival de Cannes with the Creative Mind Group, “5ive” (writer, director, cinematographer, editor), winner of the Grand Jury Award at the Adrenaline Film Festival and RAW:Baltimore Filmmaker of the Year.  Coffelt is an Act One Fellow and alumni of the Creative Mind Group. She holds a BS in Psychology and Electronic Media and Film from Towson University. She focuses on creating projects that empower women and help change media portrayals of women and minorities. - www.ashleighcoffelt.com // www.missashproductions.com // www.vimeo.com/ashleighcoffelt // Instagram @missashproductions

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Love your neighbor as yourself.

If this is the case for most of us, we will loathe our neighbor. We will spend most of our time wondering how to make them better, spending a lot of money to fix them. We will be fixated on their shortcomings. We will beat them up for years over a simple mistake. We will hate them before they can hate us.

So, where did we go wrong?

We are programmed to be dissatisfied with ourselves because we were never taught to love ourselves.

From our earliest moments, we learn there is a standard, and anyone who goes against it is a deviant. We go to college and get a ""real"" job. We dress a certain way. We ostracize individuality and outliers instead of valuing them. We learn to be ashamed of following our dreams. We get caught up in the constant push for more - more money, power, and status. This system encourages winners and losers with external measures of success that continually define our acceptance and image of ourselves. We celebrate mediocrity and stifle our greatness in fear of hurting others feelings. But what about our feelings? These stigmas subconsciously plant seeds of doubt in our minds that are difficult to look past.

Every day, advertisements that play on our imperfections and desires to be better overwhelm us. Online and offline, we can't escape the messages thrown in our faces of all the things we don't just want, but need. This need festers inside of us compulsively over and over again, until we convince ourselves enough stuff can make us happy.

We see countless stories of people who have all the wealth in the world and are still unhappy as well as the stories of people who have given up everything and couldn't be happier. Here we are in the mix, confused whether or not to give up our jobs to become a travel Instagram star or aspire for the comfortability of money to buy our way to happiness. We've learned to sacrifice something now for the payoff later. Based on the idea we are deeply flawed, we spend too much money and resources chasing perfection. Because happiness = self-love and who doesn't want self-love?

While there is a clear line between confidence and cockiness in a society where narcissism is scorned, there is no place for pride in oneself. As children, narcissism and self-love are lumped together and are quickly enforced to be dismissed. As adults, when self-love becomes essential, we feel selfish for taking care of ourselves. So when we give all of our love to others and are unable to receive the same love back, we feel unworthy. These perceptions ultimately affect the way we see ourselves.

Is it too late to change things? Are we completely hopeless?

While we cannot undo the subconscious ideals we inevitably have in the depths of our minds, we must work to change our perceptions of ourselves moving forward. We must embrace our vulnerabilities and understand we are enough, just as we are. By accepting and embracing vulnerability, we let go of the ideals of perfection. If we break down the walls of self- preservation and stop our obsession with imperfection, we can encourage an environment of intimately knowing your strengths instead of flaws. Ultimately, we must reprogram ourselves to treat ourselves with gentleness by teaching love and acceptance because without love; we are nothing.