Become your own source of love
A few weeks ago, I talked about the fear of intimacy on Empowerment Radio; one of the keys to overcoming this fear is to become your own source of love. Now I could imagine that some listeners had thoughts such as "easier said than done," "I tried self-love, but it didn't work for me" or "everybody says I need to love myself first, but nobody tells me how."
Some of you may have tried looking in the mirror while repeating I love myself, I love myself. However, although the words sound nice, you may feel that you are lying to yourself, because sadly the opposite seems to be true.
Love isn't an emotion, which can be easily triggered, such as anxiety or anger. To be able to love someone, we need to establish a relationship that is grounded in trust, respect, adoration and the desire to be close to that person. Yet, it often seems easier to create such a close relationship with someone else than with ourselves. So where do you start? Here are a few steps that made it easier for many of my clients to learn to love themselves.
One of the major obstacles to experiencing self-love is the lack of acceptance. How many times do you judge or criticize yourself - for your weight, for your lack of friends or for the state of your bank account? How often do you compare yourself to others, who are "obviously" smarter, better and more successful? And how often do you call yourself stupid, a moron or worse?
The first step towards a greater sense of self-love, is to identify and then stop the behavior that undermines its foundation - self-acceptance. Whenever you notice that you are putting yourself down, quickly think about someone you love and care about and ask yourself, whether you would treat that person in such a way.
Then remind yourself that only when you learn to compassionately accept yourself, especially for the things that you assumed to be not good enough or all your fault, will you find peace and happiness within. Once you do, you can always choose to change and improve yourself and your life - but not out of shame and insecurity, rather from a place of self-worth and love.
A client of mine told me recently that she finally realized why she had such a hard time loving herself and attracting love into her life. As long as she could remember she was only valuing herself for being fun, bubbly and pretty, because these were the attributes people seemed to appreciate the most about her. However, there was a deeper and more sensitive side, which she neither dared to show to others, nor wanted to pay attention to herself. It wasn't until she was struggling with bouts of depression and anxiety that she realized her struggles came from the fact that she had always denied herself to be "multi-dimensional" and not just a perky bundle of energy. As she started to explore and embrace more the other aspects of her being by doing things, which she ordinarily would have judged as boring or embarrassing, such as meditating, spending time in nature or just hanging out with her parents, she noticed how much more calm and at peace she started to feel with herself.
Recognize that your perception of yourself may be limited and distorted, due to your desire to get approval, to fit in or at least avoid rejection. Then become curious to discover and get in touch with those precious parts of you that may have been hidden or dormant in the past.
It is a common phenomenon that we are much more comfortable with being grateful and appreciative towards others than ourselves. In my case this had to do with my parents frequently killing the buzz of excitement when I came home with an excellent report card, by cautioning me: "Don't show off and don't feel too good about yourself; be humble, otherwise you may become arrogant, and nobody likes that." My interpretation of this message was, that making yourself smaller and being insecure gets your more friends than being confident, which I soon learned the hard way wasn't true at all.
Unfortunately, for most of us, self-appreciation is a highly underdeveloped skill, not only because we may have been discouraged to do so. Since in general, we put more stock in the opinions of others than in our own, self-appreciation seems like a complete waste of time. But for the purpose of building your confidence, your trust in yourself, and your love for yourself, you need to acknowledge the gift and blessing you are. So every night write down three things you appreciate about yourself on that day.
Make it mainly about who you are and not just what you did on that day. Acknowledge your sense of humor or your creativity. Recognize when you are compassionate and kind or when you take the time to stop and enjoy the beauty of a moment. Pay attention to the qualities that make you a unique and brilliant human being.
Attend and Indulge
Many of my clients tell me that their days are so packed that they simply forget to eat lunch, drink enough water or make an appointment for their annual medical check-up. While "being too busy" is a common excuse, when it comes to building a more loving relationship with yourself, there should be almost nothing more important than noticing and attending to your own basic needs.
However, like in every healthy and flourishing relationship, just doing the essential isn't enough. So make sure to also spoil yourself once in a while. Buy the $6 raspberries you would love to add to your cereal. Skip your morning work-out routine every now and then, when you just want to snooze a bit longer. Give yourself permission to get pampered in a spa or just sit on the couch and read a book, rather than spending the week-ends on house-project.
There are of course more steps you can take to open your mind and your heart towards yourself, and to provide you with the attention, kindness and love you deserve. After all, wouldn't it make sense to love and appreciate the person you spend every second of your days with - until the rest of your life?
So where to start? Join me on Sept 29 | at 9 AM PST / 12 PM EST on the "GET REAL PODCAST" for my newest episode and discover the 4 keys on how to learn to love yourself with greater ease.