All you need is love- self -love. When was the last time you said the words ‘I love you’? Probably not that long ago but when was the last time you told yourself that.The last time you declared your love for yourself? I think it would be a safe bet to say that it was a little longer ago. If I’ve got that wrong then a big thumbs up for having some self-love.
When it comes to partners, children, pets and even our favourite holiday destination it seems that we feel unencumbered in vocalising our love. So why can it feel so difficult to give some of that loving to ourselves? How is it that it seems much easier to compliment or show compassion to others.
There does seem to be a common belief that loving yourself is a somewhat selfish act, conceited or possibly a sign of narcissistic tendencies. I can remember from knowing from an early age that being described as someone who loves themselves was not a compliment.
On closer inspection, we seem to have got ourselves all turned around. The message being put out there is that while it’s ok to love everyone and everything. It’s not quite so ok to love yourself with that same level of intensity. How crazy is that notion, surely we should start with loving ourselves before giving it out to others? We should be our own favourite person, loving and liking ourselves in the way we do all the other stuff in our lives.
I’m not quite sure why it is we cant just wake up one day and decide to love ourselves. Why we can’t simply practice the advice self-help books preach. After all, we are often quick to fall in love with other people, places or things. It seems we can easily admit to adoring the things, experiences and the people in our lives but not ourselves. For some reason, self-love is portrayed as something that needs to be worked at or achieved.Rather than something that is natural or second nature.
There’s probably 101 reasons why people struggle to love themselves after all we are complex creatures.We have complicated experiences and personal histories that leave us with our own individual hang-ups. However, I do believe that a common stumbling block to self- love is that our experiences do not match up with what we are told or taught life should be.
As we grow we can often receive mixed messages about our standing in the world. One person may be brought up being told that they are amazing. That they are a beautiful talented person capable of achieving everything and anything. Firstly that’s great! However, if they are given no indication that when they arrive in the outside world they may discover that everything is up for comparison. If they’re not taught how to deal with judgements from others it may leave them filled with self- doubt and their confidence in themselves knocked.
For others, it may be that they have grown up being treated badly. They may have never experienced the uplifting esteem boosting power of unconditional love. Then, of course, we mustn’t forget to add to the mix the self-esteem sucking capabilities of social media. The place where things seem brighter, more beautiful or more successful than in your own world.
Furthermore, I feel it’s worth considering the importance of separating self-love from self- worth and valuing one’ s self. All of the conditions described above can also take away a person’s sense of worth and value. For me, that is an even bigger obstacle to achieving contentment than not loving yourself.
I know that even at the times I didn’t love myself much I still had a sense of valuing myself and knew that I was worthy of a good life. I feel that value and worth do go hand in hand with self- love but are states of mind that need to be worked on too and possibly even before trying to love yourself.
All of the above experiences and more can lead to self-doubt, block personal growth, impact on interactions and relationships with others. Without self- love we are losing a little of our sense of self. We undermine one of the foundational blocks we need to live a more emotionally balanced and confident life.
Self- love enables us to live in a more harmonious state with ourselves and others. It gives us the courage to be who we want to be. To focus on the positive aspects of our lives rather than the negative. In turn, this can leads us to healthier interactions with others. We begin to exhibit less judgemental behaviours and be open to new experiences. It can enable us to be more accepting of ourselves and recognise that it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect.
For a long time when I became sick, I treated my body as if it was the enemy. I wasn’t at all kind to myself often saying ‘I hate the way I am’ or ‘I hate my body’. My relationship history with myself has not always been a good one. Like many people, I could be my harshest critic. Quick to bring myself down or criticise what I have or haven’t done. Behaving in ways towards myself that I wouldn’t dream of doing towards others.
When I reflect on this now I can see how this impacted on my recovery. Once I began to be kinder to myself it had a positive influence on the progress I made. I improved on both a psychological and physical level. I came to realise showing myself a little more compassion and self- love was an incredibly important element of my healing.
I have found that trying to love myself more does bring a greater sense of peace. It frees me from those nagging self-doubts and makes it easier to recognise greater life-enhancing opportunities. It enables me to make decisions that are right for me. As I begin to love myself more then the self-imposed boundaries are starting to slip away allowing a greater sense of well-being and freedom to flow into my everyday life.
My own self-love is definitely a work in progress, sometimes I seem to have grasped it other times it a little more elusive but I’m learning to go with the ebb and flow of it. On the whole, I feel I am making progress and seeing the benefits of loving myself some more.
Things that are helping me on my way to greater self- love:
- Identifying and appreciating the qualities I possess.
- Learning to be a to peace with my faults and quirks.
- Knowing that I’m not always loveable and that’s ok.
- Thanking my body for getting me through each day no matter what my level of health is.
- Praise myself for weathering personal crisis’.
- Learning to appreciate what others love about me.
- Being compassionate towards myself and not just others.
- Saying no to things and experiences that don’t fit in with my own values or plans.
- Seeking things and experiences that inspire and uplift me.
- Learning to trust and believe in my own courage, ideas and intuition.
- learning that others poor behaviour towards me is not a reflection on me as a person.
- Creating a positive and uplifting mantra.
- Practising EFT- Emotional Freedom Technique
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