Four Myths That Keep You from Living Fully and Fearlessly

Posted on in On Our Radar by Anita Moorjani


One of the biggest lessons I learned from nearly dying of cancer is the importance of accepting and loving myself unconditionally. In fact, it is what healed me and saved me. During my workshops and speeches, I often tell the audience to “love yourself like your life depends on it, because it does!”

Being at the brink of death taught me that my purpose in life is to be who I am and to express my authentic self fearlessly. But I also learned that the extent to which I am fearless about expressing my authentic self is in direct correlation with how much I love and accept myself.

If you’re anything like me, you will feel that it’s one thing to know the importance of loving ourselves in theory but quite another to put self-love into practice. Most of us come from cultures that do not promote or even support self-love, and we often feel judged if we love ourselves, value ourselves, or put ourselves first.

It almost feels as though we live in an upsidedown world where we are taught the opposite of what would really help us in life, and when we stumble upon the truth of how to live our lives joyfully, we are judged for practicing it.

Perhaps this is the reason so many of us struggle.

Below are some common myths which people seem to take as truths, and which I believe hold us back from living our life fully:

Myth #1: It’s selfish to love yourself.

To dispel this myth, just look at its opposite: What does it look like if we don’t love or value ourselves? We feel unworthy, undeserving, and unlovable, and the person we become is needy, with a void that we believe must be filled by others because we believe that it’s selfish to fill it ourselves.

This is the person I used to be. I was needy and a people pleaser. Now, I’ve noticed that when we love ourselves, we don’t need the approval of others. Instead, we are able to bring our fully realized, joyful self out into the world—someone who others want to be around.

Myth #2: Loving myself means needing constant self-care, which could make me high maintenance.

Many tell me that they believe loving and honoring ourselves simply means making the time in our busy schedules to take care of ourselves—to meditate, smell the flowers, get a manicure or a massage—treating ourselves. People tell me, “I must already really love myself, because I do that type of stuff all the time. But my life still doesn’t work!”

Although it is important to take the time to do those things for ourselves if it brings us pleasure, here’s what self-love means to me: loving myself even when I fail. Even when I’m feeling down and have nothing left. Even when I feel that everyone on the planet is against me and doesn’t understand me. I need to be able to look myself in the eyes and say, “No matter what anyone else thinks, I will not let myself down or forsake myself. I will stay by my own side.”

Myth #3: Loving ourselves means being in denial of our weaknesses.

Many believe that loving ourselves means just using affirmations and being in denial about our seeming failures. However, this isn’t the case. It’s not about constantly telling ourselves how awesome we are. It’s about loving the real us. The “us” who has feet of clay, the “us” who comes undone under criticism, the “us” who sometimes fails and disappoints others. It’s about making a commitment to ourselves that we will stick by “us,” even if no one else does.

Myth #4: It’s important to always stay positive, regardless of external circumstances.

Although it’s not a bad thing to have a positive attitude in life, I have found that as someone who reads books that advocate positive thinking, and how our thoughts create our reality, I started to become fearful of having “negative” thoughts. Whenever I had a fearful or insecure or negative thought, I would deny it, suppress it, and push it away, believing that it would contribute toward a negative reality. Only after almost dying of cancer did I realize that I had been suppressing many of my thoughts and emotions, for fear of being negative and putting “negative thoughts” out there. This suppression only contributed to my illness. I then realized that it’s not my thoughts that create my reality; it’s my emotions toward myself. The more I love and value myself, the more I allow positive things to come into my life. The less I love myself, the less I feel worthy of allowing positive things into my life.

If I constantly suppress certain emotions and feelings, judging them as negative and forcing myself to have more positive thoughts, the message I am sending to my self is that “my thoughts are wrong. I should not be having these thoughts!” Basically, I am denying who I am and what I am feeling. This is not a loving thing to do to myself, and neither is it healthy to have all these feelings and emotions bottled up inside. I have since realized that it’s more important to be myself than to be positive. As a result, when I am positive, it is genuine and authentic.

Anita Moorjani is a speaker and the bestselling author of Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.

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