How to say ‘I love myself’ and really mean it

Jan 5, 2015 at 7:22 a.m. ET

In all probability you've had a moment in your life when you've been infatuated with another individual, whether it's their achievement, their success, their intelligence or their beauty. But whatever the case, whenever you are too humble to fully admit that what you see inside them is inside yourself, you tend to minimize yourself to them and exaggerate them. When you do, you deprecate yourself and over-appreciate them.

As a result, instead of living authentically, you tend to inject their values into your life because you think that what they are doing is working better. You’ll inject their values into your life and attempt to be somebody that you're not. We have all been infatuated and sacrificed what is really meaningful to us, important to us, to be with somebody temporarily and eventually built up resentment for the desire to be loved for who we are. So infatuation leads to an injection of other people's values and a sacrifice of your own identity and what's important to you to be with them.

Every decision you make is based on your own highest values. Now you have an internal conflict between your own highest values and what you want to do and the injected values that you have picked up from the people you are now infatuated with, and that creates a conflict. An internal moral dilemma between what you strive for based on your own highest values and what you think you should be doing according to the values of those people that you admire.

This scenario, if involving physical appearance, can lead to a dysmorphia between what you would love to be, do or have physically according to your own highest values and what you think you should be, do or have according to theirs. And your image of yourself can now become affected. You don't think you're as beautiful as you are, when in fact your body may be doing fine according to your own true highest values.

The word "dysmorphia" comes from the word "morphia," which means form. "Dysmorphia" means an exaggerated or minimized perception of your form, either larger or smaller than you are.

Any time you minimize yourself to somebody else, and are too humble to admit that what you see in others is what is inside yourself, you will tend to inject others' values into your life and create what Freud called a superego injection that overrides your own reasoning and rational ego.

Anytime you see somebody that you admire, who you think is more beautiful, more attractive and has a more functional body that might get what they want more easily than you, if you minimize yourself to them, you could inject their behavior and their body image into your own and compare your own to it. If you do, your own thermostat that is trying to live by your own highest values and fulfill your value system can be disoriented, because now you're injecting the values of another person into your life.

And you'll have a conflict inside yourself. Many supermodels face this. They have a desire to eat to fulfill their own highest values but then they have an image that they're supposed to live up to and so they'll go through cycles of anorexia or binge eat and then bulimia. They will under-eat to get their body thin and then they will overeat to compensate to fulfill their own values. And they will go back and forth and they will have a high volatility.

How can you combat body dysmorphia?

The first thing is to break the infatuation. After all, trying to be somebody who you are not is self-defeating. Find out where you have the traits you admire in them in your own form and that will help you fulfill your highest values. Then you need to find out the drawbacks to the physical attributes that you are admiring in the people you have infatuated with and the benefits of what you have. You need to return to living by your own highest values or priorities, find out the beautiful aspects of your own body. Whatever you see in them, own in yourself in your form, not their form. And then find out the drawbacks of their form to set yourself free of the infatuation.

By doing this you will realize that you have the beauty that these people have in your own form and that you don't have to minimize yourself. You will finally be able to say "I love myself for who I am, as I am."

Image: Kazuki Koikeda/Flickr