13. Where Did the Self-Love Go?

Jul 9, 2024

Self-love can be a challenging concept for women today, particularly for those who are childless not by choice. Societal pressure to become parents can make it difficult to recognize one’s self-worth. However, it’s crucial to understand that your worth isn’t defined by whether or not you are a parent. 

In this discussion, I explore three fundamental components of self-love: self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-care. Additionally, I provide five practical steps to help you rediscover self-love. Tune in to learn how to navigate these complex emotions and reclaim your sense of worth.

Learn more or book a free, no-obligation call to talk about what a coaching experience could look like for you HERE.

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Where did the self-love go?
Key Episode Takeaways:
  • Your healing cannot begin until you find self-love.
  • Steps to help you discover self-love.
  • Your worth is not determined by you being a parent.
  • Finding a sense of purpose enhances self-love.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Full Episode Transcript:

Hi, you're listening to Childless and Moving Onward. This is the place where we talk about thriving in life when you're a woman who is childless, not by choice, regardless of the road that brought you to childlessness.   Welcome everyone to this week's episode of Childless and Moving Onward. I'm Gail Miller. I'm a physician and I'm a life coach and I am childless by circumstance, not by choice. I'm the host of this podcast and welcome again. All right. So there's a song by the Supremes. Some of you may not know the Supremes or may have heard of them, but not familiar with their music because yeah, they're from many years ago. But anyways, they had a song called, Where Did Our Love Go? And today I want to talk about a topic that's a twist on that title. And the topic is where did the self love go? Specifically for those who are childless not by choice? Because women who are childless not by choice, have a, it's a really strong tendency to lose self love, to lose self compassion, but until you find that again, or at all, if you've always struggled with this, your healing can't happen, it just gets stalled because all you will see are the woulda, coulda, shouldas. All you'll see are your faults. And so you'll miss out on all the rest. So, where, where does the love go, the self love, and why do we lose it? Well, for those women like me who are childless by circumstance, it's common to look at every decision you've made in your life and see nothing but how it has held you back. So childless by circumstance, there's an infinite number of reasons why someone would be childless when they don't want to be, without having gone through infertility or pregnancy losses. So, other reasons besides infertility and pregnancy loss, for some, it's you have a partner who doesn't share the same desire to have a child, or you have a partner who already had children, doesn't want any more. Your financial situation may get in the way or your medical situation, um, it may be risky to have, be pregnant or maybe you have a partner who you love, but maybe they have, you know, dependency issues, substance issues, and you don't want to bring a child into this, this situation. Or you've had trauma as a child, you grew up in an unhealthy situation and you are fearful of carrying that on. Those are just a few reasons, but the list of reasons why someone would be childless by circumstance is infinite. And it leads to a cycle of guilt, of self criticism that often turns into self loathing. I mean, you end up disliking everything about yourself and you beat yourself up at every turn. Does that sound familiar? Now, so for me, um, first when I was younger I had wanted to be or considered becoming a single mom and I let other people's agendas get in the way. As I got older and I met someone later in life, the right person, but he already had children and didn't want more. Um, and so I got myself into this situation of, you know, blaming myself. Why did I let, when I was younger, why did I allow myself to allow others agendas to affect me? Why didn't I go ahead and become a single mom, and not care what others think. you know, and then after I got married, I was criticizing myself for why didn't I push this conversation with my husband? Why didn't I push more to have a discussion about what I needed, what I wanted, not just, you know, um, what he wanted and didn't want. So there are those of you who will beat yourself up because you know, you didn't do enough. You didn't take action. Then there are those of you who've been through infertility or maybe you didn't have trouble getting pregnant, it was staying pregnant and so you had pregnancy losses. You begin to hate your body or many of you do. I'm not saying that you should, but that is Is what results because you start thinking, you know, why can't my body do what I've been told it's supposed to do? And you begin to question everything you've done. You blame everything you've done is harming yourself and harming your fertility, right? You start to think about oh the partying that you did in college. Is that what caused you know, my pregnancy losses or my infertility. I ate, you know, what, what you've eaten, what you've been exposed to, you start to think of everything you've done and didn't do. And why didn't I do more? Why didn't I fix this when I was younger? Again, not saying that you should, but these are common things that go through a woman's head about, you know. Being childless after infertility or pregnancy loss. You question everything you did and whether you did enough. And it goes on and on. It doesn't stop. And it all ends, often, in a giant hate fest. Hating yourself. And of course, I don't need to tell you that society will gleefully add to that. With the expectations set and with the constant judgment of everything you've done and didn't do. And then there's the pervasive belief that fulfillment in life, success and accomplishment in life, come only with parenthood. And when you don't fit that mold, when you can't be a parent, it, it reinforces feelings of self doubt and inadequacy. That societal pressure has a significant impact on self love. The pressure isn't just from society, there's also your, there's your personal grief and your mourning a life that you had longed for, that you had looked forward to, but that you won't have. That loss, which we're often told isn't a loss or it's something that others don't understand, can have profound effect on your own sense of self worth. And then there's isolation. So many of you feel alone in your experience. You feel like you're the only ones feeling this way. And it's not surprising because you can feel like everyone around you has children. What's wrong with me? Why don't I have children and it that isolation exacerbates those feelings of unworthiness and they it really gets in the way of self love. So what is self love and how can you reclaim it? Okay, so we'll start with what is self love now to begin with, even just hearing these words or considering them for yourself can leave some of you feeling like icky, like it's wrong. It's boastful. It's not something you can even fathom. And then you add to that that you probably have been at some point in your life, and probably many points, whether through direct comments or indirect messages. You have been given the message at least once, if not many times, that your self love is selfish, right? It's, it's egotistical, but it's neither. Self love is about recognizing your worth, treating yourself with kindness, and setting healthy boundaries. And it is crucial for, for your wellbeing overall, the whole you, right? Your physical wellbeing, your mental, emotional wellbeing. It impacts how you perceive yourself and how you engage with the world. And this is true for everyone, myself included. So as part of self love, there's three terms that I want you to think about. The first is self acceptance and that is embracing who you are including your life circumstances, including accepting being childless. Now that one's hard to get through because of the misconception of what acceptance is when it comes to being childless. And I do talk about this more, um, I explain really what it is, what it isn't and why acceptance is so important, and I talk about that in my, my last episode. So, um, if you're interested, look for episode 12 of the podcast. Okay, so the, the first term that has to do with all this self love was self acceptance. The second is self compassion, being gentle with yourself in hard times, in times when you have disappointment, whether it's you're feeling disappointed in yourself or in others or in the situation. It's being gentle with yourself. And the third term that's part of self love is self care. And that's taking very specific, deliberate actions to nurture yourself. And again, that's your whole self. Nurture the holistic you, physically, mentally, emotionally, you're not just a body, you're not just a brain, you're not just a heart and feelings, you're all of that. And it's vital to take care of all of that through self care. So now, keeping these three terms in mind, again, self acceptance, self compassion, self care, Here are some steps to take to help you discover or rediscover self love. The first is acknowledge your grief. It doesn't matter what other people think. It doesn't matter whether other people consider this a loss or something you should grieve over. No, listen to your heart. It's okay. It's a loss. It truly is. And it is, it's not just okay to mourn the life you had dreamed of. It's needed. It's necessary. So allow yourself to feel and process your emotions without judging them, without judging yourself. The second step is find your tribe. I know that can feel like an impossible task. Like nobody's out there. It's just me. I'm the only one who's childless. But there's communities out there online and, well, not everywhere, but there are many communities that have in person support groups. So you can share, share your experiences and get support. And, and have conversations with other women who get you, who know it's a loss, who feel it, who grieve as well, and so they understand you. Each, each of you, each of us is coming to this with a different set of circumstances that brought us to being childless not by choice. But the bottom line is we're all childless when we don't want to be and connection with other women who are, have that same situation is crucial. Connection in general is crucial, but finding your people who are like you is imperative. The third step is to reframe your narrative. Now this again, for anybody who knows me, you know I'm very anti toxic positivity. This is not about toxic positivity. It's not about just look at the positive. No. This is about coming back to the middle. Often, what happens is we have this either or mentality in society and often what happens, especially when you're grieving your childlessness, you're on, you're on the other end of the spectrum. You're not positive. All you can focus on is your loss. And that's okay for, you know, the time you need to do that, to move on, to work on healing. But you need to find a middle ground. This is not to say, just look at the positive. No, this is about understanding, recognizing, acknowledging your loss, what you don't have that you dearly want, but also allowing in a focus on what you, what you do have, what you have accomplished, celebrate what you've achieved. And it doesn't, we're not talking about achievements that like you're going to cure cancer, cure world hunger. What are the little things that you've, that you achieve every day? Helping your neighbor, taking care of your dog. And I don't use the word little like it's minor. I'm just, in terms of, we tend to see achievements as these, they have to be this, you know, worldly accomplishment like curing cancer, something like that. That's, that's not all you've achieved. That's not all you have to achieve. Start to move your focus from this end only of what you don't have to pull in a focus on what you do have and what you have achieved. The fourth step is to practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a friend. Don't berate yourself, don't belittle yourself, and understand that your worth isn't determined by being a parent or not being a parent. It's not determined by any other standards, by oth others in society. You are worthy because you're a human. The fifth step is to engage in activities that, that bring you a sense of joy and fulfillment, self care. And it can be a spa day, but I'm not just talking about things like a mani pedi or a spa day. Anything that brings you a sense of joy, whether it's a hobby, fulfillment from traveling. And traveling doesn't mean you're going to another continent or even to another state if you're in the United States. Traveling can be like, we live in Colorado, yesterday took a trip to the mountains. That, for me, that's traveling as well. Volunteering. Find a sense of fulfillment in, a sense of purpose in other parts of life besides only seeing I can't be a parent. You are worthy whether you are a parent or not. And finding a sense of purpose enhances self love. Okay, so to just review the five steps again to help you rediscover self love. First is acknowledge your grief. The second is find your tribe. Find communities of women who are childless not by choice. Whether in person or online. Third, reframe your narrative. Don't just look at what you don't have. Also, recognize what you have and what you've accomplished. Fourth step is to practice self compassion. Be kind to yourself. Be your friend. And the fifth step in finding self love is self care through activities that bring you a sense of fulfillment. Enjoy. All right. That's it for today's episode and I look forward to seeing you or speaking with you next week. Bye. I appreciate you listening. 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