Why is self-love such a struggle?

This blog is going to be brief because I’m trying to practise self-love and that means not spending too long sat in a chair staring at a bright screen, but I imagine it’ll end up longer than I intended because once I start, I find it hard to stop and the desire to keep writing, to keep working, often overrides everything else, including physical impulses like needing the loo.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you find yourself working at the computer or doing chores when what you really need to do is go to the toilet? Or perhaps drink a glass of water? Or eat something? Or maybe step outside into the sunlight?

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I’m so much better than I was.

You’re reading the blog of a woman who, in case you weren’t aware, used to binge eat until her stomach was about to explode and who used to binge drink until she blacked out, fell over and nearly hit her head on the bath. A woman who also used to date men who had no intention of valuing her or respecting her or staying with her and who used to work through the night and carry on working the next morning.

But despite the huge transformations I’ve undergone in the past few decades – healing from an eating disorder, giving up alcohol apart from the odd half glass of Prosecco now and then, giving up dysfunctional relationships to marry a wonderful man and tempering, as much as possible, the urge to work until my eyes hurt – self-care remains a challenge, a struggle at times.


Here are a few reasons why I, why we, might find self-care hard:

1) We find it hard to consistently care for ourselves because, as children, we weren’t consistently cared for. It was a bit on and off, or perhaps more off than on. So that’s the self-care pattern we have tended to follow – a bit on and off (although a bit on and off is much better than one hundred percent off).

We treat ourselves as we were treated. It’s a hard habit to break.

2) We came to understand, as a child, that we weren’t entirely valuable or worthy, that there was something wrong with us. Maybe someone told us this, but more likely, we interpreted it or intuited it from what was going on around us. Children are naturally egocentric. They think the entire world revolves around them. Therefore, if something is wrong with their caregivers, they think it’s their fault.

It’s my fault that Daddy left. It’s my fault that Mum is angry and sad. There must be something wrong with me. I must be faulty somehow.

We then carry this belief into adulthood. We are not valuable. We are not lovable. We are not worthy of good care.

3) Following on from the above, we think we are not worthy so we need to prove our worth somehow – by being perfect or extra good or working really hard or getting good grades or pleasing everyone we come across.

4) We also think other people’s needs are more important than ours because that’s what we learned when we were growing up. Our needs may have been neglected or subordinated to the needs of the adult (who, through no fault of their own, was unable to meet our needs because their needs had never been met).

This leads us to over-work and over-deliver, neglecting ourselves and our needs, including the basic ones like drinking water, going to the loo or getting sleep.

The patterns listed above then become habits. We undervalue ourselves. We neglect ourselves. We don’t care for ourselves.

There are other reasons I could add to this blog but I really want to respect my boundaries and wrap this up so that I can get on with other things.

As I do so, I invite you to reflect on why you struggle with self-care, if you do, and whether you can relate to the points above. I also invite you to think about how you can show yourself move love, care and compassion.

If you’d like some ideas and support with this, I have a few things that might help:

1) Fourteen Days of Love – an online experience spanning two weeks that’s designed to inspire and motivate you to love and accept yourself, grow in self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence and expand your self-awareness so that you can have happier, healthier relationships and create a more fulfilling and balanced life.

You can follow on for free on social media (links below) or by signing up to my ‘Love Letters’ on my website. And you can join the full, embodied, interactive experience for just £14 for 14 days via this link: 14 Days of Love (the full experience).

2) The Love Retreat, February 17-19 in Dorset. This is a wonderful women’s retreat designed to support you to lay the foundations for healthy love so that you can date with courage, clarity and confidence. Find out more here.

Thank you for reading. Phew. I managed to finish that quite quickly, as I promised myself. Hurrah!

Katherine x

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About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
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