Blogs and articles frequently offer insights to help improve the balance of love in your relationships but how often do you focus on yourself? Can you really say you love yourself exactly as you are?
Ask yourself this question: what is love? Now ask friends, family and colleagues. The likelihood is they will all have different theories.
When you try to define love, however, it becomes clear it is an emotion experienced in many different forms.
Loving oneself, particularly difficult in today’s society, seems particularly difficult to pin down and is often misinterpreted. The term is generally used to refer to a person who is operating from ego or an inflated sense of self-importance.
But dig a little deeper with such individuals and often you’ll find their display of peacock feathers is a disguise, an attempt to hide or counterbalance the opposite – insecurity and a lack of self-worth.
Yet truly loving and accepting yourself as you are can lead to a heightened sense of inner peace, stability of mental and physical health and more honest, present and productive relationships where you fulfil your responsibilities.
True self-worth is not found externally by comparing yourself with others but neither is it found by judging yourself against self-imposed standards. It is discovered by surrendering to your own sense of love and the worth within yourself. Here I offer five suggestions to help you on the path to self-love.
TREAT YOURSELF LIKE THE GUEST OF HONOUR IN YOUR OWN LIFE
Do you treat yourself with the same love and care you do for others?
Consider for a moment you’ve invited a loved one or friend to dinner. What will you cook? Which ingredients will you use? How will you present the food? Now consider the thought process when you’re cooking for you and you alone. Is there a difference? If so, why? If not, why is that?
Treat yourself as you would others and as you would like others to treat you. It could be by cooking delicious nutritious food for yourself, prioritizing time for soul nourishment, making space for relaxation or pursuing health, fitness or wellbeing activities.
Treating yourself like the guest of honour in your own life will demonstrate to others how you should be treated and will have a positive effect on your own sense of self-worth.
UNDERSTAND THAT LOVING YOURSELF IS NOT SELFISH
If you’re depleted of energy, rushed off your feet, frustrated and unsatisfied – and beating yourself up about it – who can you realistically serve to the best of your ability?
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. It is essential. Ensuring you are the happiest, healthiest version of yourself means you can bring a sense of balance, focus and efficiency to your work, relationships and everyday life.
With that in mind, it could be argued that being attached to your busyness might be perceived as more selfish than taking time for yourself.
Taking time for you need not be expensive or extensive – enjoy a five-minute walk in nature, meditate for 10 minutes each day, go to a restorative yoga class, have a massage once a month, be creative – whatever’s your thing. but replenishing your energy will mean you have reserves for others.
Knowing and accepting that it is more loving and nurturing to ensure your energy is replenished and demonstrating what self-love and worth looks like in practice is important, especially for those with children.
BE PRESENT AND MINDFUL
Mindful living involves being fully present in your experience, without judgement. Deliberately bringing your awareness into the present moment offers relief from any replaying of thoughts about the past or the never ending endurance race into the future. Life is made up of a series of moments – being mindful reminds you that if you miss the moments, you are missing life. It also helps increase self-awareness and in turn your thought patterns or habits that can undermine your self-esteem.
The key is to become aware of your own habits and choose a positive action – to see the noticing itself as a plus. Try not to judge the habit because this can turn into another stick with which to beat yourself. Simply notice, without judgement, and then choose a positive, loving, nurturing next step towards self-compassion and love. that awareness and choice in the present moment is your power for positive changes.
PRACTICE THE POWER OF AFFIRMATIONS
Consider for a moment what thoughts are – little electrical impulses in your mind. A metaphor often used by neuroscientists is the idea that habitual thinking causes ‘super highways’ in the brain that allow ‘practised’ thoughts to flow easily. these can then feel like a comfort zone.
The trouble is when people create super highways of habitual thinking that don’t best serve their sense of self-worth, particularly when it comes to the negative self-talk. Affirmations (positive words or phrases) are claimed t help re-route habitual thinking.
You are already affirming and creating our experience of life with every word and thought you say or think. but repeating a new affirmation for the first time can feel forced or insincere. ” I am not worthy of love. I am worthy of love. ‘ I am worthy of love’ can feel like ‘No I’m not – I’m not attractive enough, clever enough, successful enough, rich enough…’
Consciously choosing and repeating positive affirmations may help to change habitual thinking to subconsciously believing such statements to be true. You have the power to choose love and acceptance of yourself.
The Simplest Path to Daily Meditation
LOOK INWARD, NOT OUTWARD
A feeling of not being good enough can often arise when you compare yourself to others. This is a habit that can only lead to being out of balance, feeling inferior or superior, neither of which exists in a place of true love.
Everyone is perfectly different. There will always be those who have more than you, and there will always be those who have less. Keeping your focus inward will lead to a deep acceptance and love for yourself as you are overcoming the need to look externally for validation, acceptance or love.
Accepting yourself will no longer require or depend on others’ opinions.
In my experience, practising no-judgemental, kindness and compassion for yourself helps to increase your sense of wellbeing and happiness. Living each day from a place of love and acceptance for yourself can help you make decisions that better reflect what is authentic for you.
It can also contribute towards more loving relationships, make your working life more productive, help you to meet your responsibilities and lead to a happier, ore fulfilled life.
Use the too of gratitude to help you remember the beauty of where you are, what you have achieved so far and what is important to you right now. And from this moment on choose to love yourself, exactly as you are.
DAILY SELF-LOVE PRACTICE
Todays treat is……
Five thins I love about myself…..
Five things I am grateful for….
I will take five minutes of mindfulness, meditation or reflection at or after….
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