Self-Love & Loneliness: Learning to Like Yourself


April 25, 2023

The journey to self-love begins with liking yourself first. But doing this work can present one of the biggest battles we all face as humans: loneliness. It’s one of the things that keeps us in mediocre relationships far past their expiry dates, because being in the company of another seems, in theory, better than being alone.

But relationships with others are not the cure to loneliness. And believe it or not, the better you become acquainted with loneliness, the less you will fear it and the more it can help you grow.

There’s freedom to be found in being able to come face to face with your loneliness. And it may reveal beautiful new sides of you that you’d never before experienced, and teach you to like yourself even more. Here, I’ll share how and give you a step-by-step practice to greater self-love.

In this episode, we’re talking about: 

  • Accepting loneliness
  • The 8 Steps to Self-Love
  • Learning to like yourself
  • How to build a healthy relationship
  • Loneliness vs alone
  • Benefits of developing a relationship with loneliness


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Episode 285 | When Healthy Love Feels Scary: Some People Aren’t Ready To Be Truly Seen

Questions? Comments? Want to connect and chat about this episode? Email me at or DM me on Instagram @emilygoughcoach. Thank you for listening and please let me know your takeaways from this or other episodes!


I am Emily Gough, a human connection coach, writer, and speaker with an insatiable sense of curiosity and adventure, always asking more questions. And using the power of stories to teach, learn, and Grow. We boldly explore relationships, connection, and the nuances and complexities of the human experience with compassion, honesty, and a sense of humour. With both solo episodes and highly curated guests,

sharing incredible stories, experiences and expertise. The Room to Grow Podcast takes the entire idea of growth to the next level, all while covering the uncomfortable topics many of us would like to avoid. There’s always more room to grow. Let’s do this. Hey, welcome back to the Room two Girl podcast, Emily here. And today we’re gonna be talking about both self-love and loneliness and the relationship between the two because this,

so this entire conversation and kind of like learning to, to love yourself through loneliness as well. And this entire conversation was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend of mine in real life. And she was telling me that she has been having some resistance to doing this work. And, and I think this, this is so common, this is so common because not only does that work feel hard and scary and uncomfortable,

but it’s also sort of a, where the fuck do I even start conversation, right? It’s like, what, what, how, how do I even begin that? It just seems so abstract and this entire concept of self-love gets thrown around on the internet a lot. And I say the internet specifically, but it’s, you know, in conversations too.

Like it’s just, it’s thrown around a lot without a lot of understanding necessarily to what that really, truly, and deeply means. And also recognizing that it’s a journey, not a destination like you, you don’t get to some train station called self-love and like you’re, you’re done. You know that that’s not really how it works. And the, one of the biggest issues is that learning to really,

you know, feel for yourself and to, to show yourself the care and the compassion that you show to everyone else. It can be quite lonely even if you are in, in a relationship. And, and I have more to say about that in a minute, but it doesn’t matter what context you’re coming to this, this journey on it can be an incredibly lonely one because no one else can do this work for us.

We have to do this work ourselves. This is a path that we, we kind of have to walk alone. Now that said, because there’s, there’s always nuance. You, you know, how I feel about the nuance around here, other people and the connections that we create with other people, whether romantic, platonic, whatever, whatever. They are a huge part in this journey as well.

So it’s not that those things are totally separate, they play an enormous role, but ultimately, you know, people can, can love the shit out of us. But if we aren’t open and willing to accept the, the more shadow parts of ourselves, it won’t matter what everyone else thinks of us. And, and even if everyone in the world thinks that you’re the best person ever,

that still has to come from within us. Like we still have to make that choice ourselves and for ourselves. And most of us have spent so long being so hard on ourselves and, and that it, it leads to this sense of when we start to show ourselves a lot more compassion that can actually feel really uncomfortable and, and actually quite disarming because it’s so unfamiliar to us.

And it can feel a lot easier in those moments to look for different vices. So food, exercise, sex, tv, drugs, alcohol, et cetera, all those things, right? And, and, and some of the things on those list could be considered healthy like exercise and sex and, and nourishing yourself through food and all those things. And even Netflix and chill night if you want.

Like there’s that, that can be fine. But we have to know the difference between when we are engaging in those things for genuine pleasure and when we are engaging in those things as a form of escape and numbing ourselves to distract from whatever the main issue is that we’re really dealing with. And I, I will regularly tell people to spend a minimum, minimum,

like this is bare minimum here of five minutes per day alone and in silence with no screens. And when I tell people that they usually bulk, like without, without fail, whenever I tell people that, there’s usually at least one or two people in every group that I talk to about that who are like, oh my god, no. Like, that’s,

that seems like way too much. And it can be extremely difficult for most people to do that. That’s why I only make it five minutes, because I also wanna make it manageable for people’s schedules and stuff too, but also mentally and emotionally manageable, right? To kind of allow them to, to dip their toe in the water because it can be so uncomfortable.

And some of these sticky feelings can come up when we’re not distracted by music and podcasts and TV and like all of these other things that we can distract ourselves with. We’d rather not open those doors because we learn to compartmentalize. But when we’ve locked entire parts of ourselves away, are we even being honest, like, not, not only with other people,

but with ourselves. Because if we don’t really know ourselves, how can we show up in an honest way for other people too? And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the definition is of, of a healthy relationship. And it’s, it, to me it ties in a lot with, with values and of course like the values that we both require the other person to meet,

but also the values that we have to show up with too. And honesty is always an important part of that. But, but if we just look at an overall relational entity and what the definition of that is, to me, a healthy relationship is an honest relationship, especially the relationship that we have with ourselves. Because we’ll often hear or talk about healthy relationships,

but what does that even mean or, or entail, right? How is that defined? But you, to me, you can’t have a healthy relationship without including honest in the definition. There’s a lot more to that that we could talk about, but honesty is at the top of that list for me, and there’s a lot of healing work that we can do within ourselves.

But I will continue to say this, you do not have to be healed to love and to get into a relationship that that is a complete bullshit myth. There’s actually a, i I think I’ve mentioned that in a couple different episodes, but one podcast episode in particular, episode 2 85, about when healthy love feels scary and that some people aren’t ready to be truly seen,

I recommend checking that one out because that goes into that one a little bit more. But it, when we start to do this work or when we continue on the journey of doing this work, because it’s never done, that’s why no one has ever, you know, healed like past tense, right? We, we have to face a discomfort and we have to notice the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that are coming up and to notice the instinct to hide or numb.

And one of the biggest battles that we face is that of loneliness because we are built for connection. If and if you’re single and you maybe don’t want to be, I want to reframe that a little bit. Think of it this way, in many ways, being single is freedom. And now again, the, the nuance to that is that you can also find and create a huge amount of freedom within the,

the right relationship too. But when you are single, that is an opportunity to do all of the things that might not be, that you might just approach differently if you were in a relationship. And we often associate being single with being lonely. It’s one of the biggest things that keeps us in unhealthy relationships for far too long, is that we don’t wanna be alone and we also tend to equate being alone with being lonely.

And those are two separate things. I’ve done an entire podcast episode on that one as well that I will also reference. I’m just making a note of that here because I forgot to look up the number for that one. It just popped into my head. So that’s definitely one to check out as well. But this dance with loneliness, we, we are all likely going to die alone.

That’s just the hard truth. Even if we’re lucky enough to die with someone holding our hands, we still have to embark on whatever journey awaits alone, at least physically. And there’s an enormous amount of freedom in being able to come face to face with your loneliness. And then there’s also the idea of loneliness within a relationship too. We, we hold relationships,

romantic relationships, up on some sort of pedestal as being the solution to, to feeling lonely. They are not, they are not that solution. You can be, in fact, and, and I know I’ve talked about this before as well, but being in a relationship that is not the right relationship, there is nothing lonelier than being in a relationship with someone and having the person you,

you care about sitting right next to you, but feeling so isolated and alone due to a lack of, of connection. And that’s, that is hard. That is hard. That’s why you’ll hear people say that they would actually rather be alone than in the wrong relationship. And I completely agree with that sentiment. I will always take being alone than being in the wrong relationship.

But we, we still always have loneliness around us. We, we always, I, I actually wrote an entire journal entry to myself about loneliness a few months ago, and I kind of wrote about the fact that I feel like loneliness and I have a very intimate relationship. And I’m always aware of the fact that even when I’m having my most joyful moment of,

of connection, I’m still always aware in the back of my mind that loneliness will always return at some point or another. And that doesn’t have to be some sad, terrible, scary thing because when we create a different type of relationship with loneliness and when we accept that, that’s part of our journey as humans, because every human faces this battle and it’s not,

loneliness is not something that we eradicate. Loneliness is something that we have to learn to accept and live with and to dance with. And the biggest way that you can do that is to start getting comfortable in your own company. And I also, I I want to say too, like I really recognize that that’s tricky right now given that so many of us have actually been largely isolated from,

from humans more often than not in the past two years. And that’s the other extreme end of the spectrum, obviously that isn’t healthy either, but because we are ultimately built and wired for connection, but this is what I want you to know about loneliness. And it’s that the better acquainted you become with it, the less you will fear it. The more you will accept that it will always reappear at one time or another that there’s no avoiding it,

the better that you will be able to understand what loneliness is trying to teach you. And the more open you will, you’ll be to hear the wisdom that loneliness is whispering into, into your ear every time she comes by. And it will make you so much more appreciative that when you have those moments of, of that those deep, you know, moments of,

of connection, whenever loneliness decides to partway for a time, you’ll appreciate them so much more. And for just for me personally, the benefits of developing a much more intimate understanding of, of my relationship with loneliness, for me, it has given me the wherewithal to fearlessly travel solo all over the world to destinations where I don’t know a single soul and have the confidence in those moments that knowing that even if I don’t make a single friend when I’m there,

which I always seem to, but I’m always absolutely cool with being alone in the presence of my own company no matter where I am. And it’s also allowed me to develop and innate independence that I cherish and pushed me to only grant space in my life to the people who make me feel connected and alive as opposed to the empty opposite. So I came up with some steps here,

eight steps to really starting to change your relationship to self-love. Because the other thing is, is that if you, if you feel like you can’t stand yourself right now, going from that to trying to think about loving yourself is too much of a jump. You have to start with just learning to accept and like yourself first. So step one is to accept where you are at flaws and all.

Just accept that this is where you are, that this is where you have gotten from, this is where you are maybe starting this, this new chapter of your journey, however you wanna think of it. But you have to accept where you’re at right now. Step two is to understand that some people never bothered to do this work. You’re already on the right path,

so keep going. I tell people that all the time because the people who do this work, it is, it is hard, difficult work. And there are a lot of people that never do it at all. And that can be easy to forget because if, if you live in the sort of semi Instagram bubble that many of us do, I only follow people on accounts for the most part that it’s,

it’s like this beautiful happy little bubble on, on Instagram sometimes. And I still look at, you know, I still make a a a point of looking at accounts and stuff that I don’t agree with to make sure that I’m still getting a well-rounded view of the world as to not narrow my worldview, but I do tend to limit the accounts that, that I follow,

like on an everyday basis for my own mental health. And, and sometimes it can be easy when you’re in that bubble to forget when you’re seeing all the, you know, like Instagram therapy and like beautiful quotes and, and whatever. And the, the motivation, the inspiration, it can be easy to forget that a lot of people never embark on that path.

They never embark on taking the action to actually do like the heavy lifting of, of that work for themselves. Cause nobody can make you do it. It’s up to you. Nobody’s coming to save you. So step one is accept where you’re at flaws, andal. Step two is to understand that peop, that some people never bother to do this work and to really give yourself some credit for,

for doing this work at all. Step three is to learn to like yourself, because like I said, if you don’t even like yourself, then jumping from self-hatred to self-love is going to seem like some massively unreachable goal. Start with liking yourself first and then go from there. And that isn’t gonna happen overnight. Like that’s going to take time, but that’s part of the process.

Step four is to realize that this is a lifelong ever-evolving journey, right? There’s, there’s no final destination. I really wanted to, to stress that. Step five is to surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are rather than hating on who you are not. That’s a big one. It’s a really big one if you are surrounded by people who are always telling you what you’re doing wrong.

And, and, and I don’t mean in the, in the feedback sort of way, like the, the actual helpful feedback way, because we all need to be open to that. And that can actually be really incredibly useful to us. And we all need some of those checks and balances in our life. But I mean, people who are just hating on you for the sake of hating on you,

right? Like, we don’t, we don’t need that in our, in our lives for the most part. So just be really mindful of, of maybe your boundaries in that area. Step six is to ironically, set boundaries with yourself and with others. So let go of the people things and circumstances that you can’t control that, that you keep trying to maybe because you,

you can’t control any of those things and lean into the only factor that you can control, which is you, your actions, your behaviors, and the way you show up in the world for yourself and for others. Step seven, this is a tough one as well. Not everyone’s gonna like you and your job is to show up as the kind of human that you like.

That’s it. Not everybody’s gonna like you. And your job is to show up as the kind of human that you like, because there’s nothing quite as lonely as showing a version of yourself to the world. And then having that side of you be maybe loved and adored and, and people feel so connected to that version of you and all those things. But on the inside,

you know that that’s not, that’s not the real you or at least that’s not all of you. Like that, that there are huge parts of yourself that you are withholding because you’re worried that others won’t like you. That’s a really fucking lonely place to be. And you will never believe that people actually truly love you or, or like you or any of those things because you know that they aren’t seeing all of you.

And how can they like you if they don’t even see your flaws, if they don’t see the parts of you that you are purposely hiding, whether consciously or subconsciously. So you end up feeling lonelier than ever. So the faster that we can accept that not everybody’s gonna like us, and to understand that your, your only real job as a human is to show up as you are,

like the kind of human that you are. And obviously, again, the nuance and nons to still be able to take criticisms and, and those types of things and to evolve and grow into a better and better human. But that to show up as the kind of human that you like, that’s important. And that’s a really powerful step on the way to creating a very different relationship with loneliness.

And to actually be able to receive love from the people who, who truly mean it when you’ve really showed, you’ve really showed yourself to them. That’s why that episode 2, 2 85 about when healthy love feels scary, I really recommend checking that one out because it, that’s a, that’s a very vulnerable moment in time when you let people see all of you and then you let the chips fall.

And it’s like the, but what’s on the other side of that is, is whole new depths of connection that you, you may have spent your entire lifetime hoping to find and create. And step number eight, this won’t be a surprise, but step number eight, the last one is to be being alone. Spend time in silence. Sometimes I recommend at least once daily,

even if, especially for all your parents out there and, and all that, I know it can be tricky with kids and, and jobs and juggling all the things, but even if it’s just five minutes, like, and take note of what you like about yourself and what others seem to like about you, and figure out if those two areas line to match up.

If not, you’re either out of integrity and or you’re not allowing others to feel to see the full version of you, which is an issue. So that can be a really great teaching moment for yourself as well. So just really quickly, I’m just gonna run through these again. Step one except where you’re at, step two is to understand that some people never bother to do this work and give yourself a pat on the back because you’re already on the right path.

Step three is to learn to like yourself before anything else, before you jump to self-love. Like you have to learn to like yourself. Step four is to realize that this is a journey, not a destination. Step five is to surround yourself with people who appreciate who you are rather than hating on who you are not. Step six is boundaries and letting go.

Step seven is that not everybody’s gonna like you, but you have to show up as the kind of human that you like. And step eight is to be okay being alone and to intentionally spend time in silence sometimes. And to notice if what you like about yourself and what others seem to like about you line up or not. And if they match. And if they do,

that’s a great sign. If they don’t, it’s telling you something to just take a, a deeper look into that area. Okay? So let me know how this lands. Let me know how you feel about loneliness and about spending time alone. I’d love to hear some of that. And, and is spending time alone something that’s a little bit foreign to you or is it something that you do regularly and very intentionally?

I’d love to hear about it. So send me DM over at Emily Goff, coach over on Instagram, or you can shoot me an email at info Emily Goff and we’ll be back soon. Thank you so much for listening. If you want more, one of the most common questions I get is, where do I even start doing this work to create deeper connections and better relationships?

I’ve got a free 15 page guide for you called, where Do We Begin? This is the very foundation that you need to start building healthy relationships with others and with yourself. This is my gift to you, and multiple people have referred to it as life-changing. You can find it over a room to grow or check the show notes to go download it and have it sent straight to your inbox.

Thanks so much and stay tuned for more episodes weekly.


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