The First Steps to Self-Love
Last month I wrote an article about how giving yourself your own abundance of love and compassion opens the door for abundance in all areas of your life. Most people I’ve talked with on this subject tend to agree that self-love is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and advocate for it wholeheartedly.
However, even though we know what we should be doing, it seems as if a lot of us have a hard time knowing exactly just how to do it. The most common question I get when I have a conversation about the importance of self-love is, “I’m not even sure how to love myself, how do you do it?”
My immediate reaction to this is sadness. How has self-love been so suppressed in our world that so many people are absolutely clueless as how to do it? How have we not been trained from childhood about the art of self-love? If it’s indeed one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, why is not being taught in our schools and advocated for at every level of society?
The ultimate truth of why the promotion of self-love is decimated from society is far too deep and complex to broach here, but let’s just say there are some humans on this planet who don’t want a world full of self-loving and confident people. Because when you are self-loving and fully self- expressed you cannot be manipulated or controlled through fear and self-loathing.
Additionally, the more self-loving and compassionate you are with yourself, the more loving and compassionate you become with every human you encounter. You truly begin to see yourself in others, and you recognize that every act of anger, jealously, retaliation and manipulation by others is only coming from a place of fear and hurt, and you feel compassion for that hurt. The more self-loving you are, the more you realize the only acceptable answer to anything that comes yours way is love. Think about it - world would look vastly different if we suddenly all realized we are all connected and had compassion and empathy for every human in existence.
So, the question still remains – how do we love ourselves?
The first and most important thing is to cultivate awareness. Try to become aware of your thoughts and the things you are telling yourself. You may not realize it, but that little voice in your head is running constantly, and most of the things it has to say are not so nice. A majority of the time your little voice is critiquing you, judging you, hijacking your positivity and just being an overall d-bag.
But here’s the thing, that little voice is not you! It’s not who you are. It’s just a personality that’s been crafted over the years to keep you safe. Who you really are is a space of love, compassion, understanding, joy and peace.
So the little voice in your head is like a computer program that is running and regurgitating your past experiences into your present over and over again. But the good thing is this computer program can be over ridden, and all it takes is for you to be aware of the program and to be listening out for when it’s not being productive or supportive of self-love. And when you catch your mind doing its thing try your best not to buy into it.
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid your mind is selling you! When it points out your weaknesses, you can acknowledge them, but don’t believe it when it tries to sell you on absolutes, such as you aren’t good enough, or you are always screwing up, or that you can’t do anything right. Don’t believe it when it tells you’ll never be pretty enough, or smart enough or talented enough. Don’t go into the depths with it when it starts dragging up the past and reminding you about all of the times you weren’t your best self, or you didn’t do the right thing, or you hurt others.
Simply stop believing the madness of your mind, and then move onto the next step to self-love, which is forgiveness.
Forgive yourself wholly and completely. Forgive yourself for everything and anything. Forgive every moment you said or did something you judged as “wrong” or “bad.” Authentically let go and forgive yourself for every little thing you’ve ever beaten yourself up over, and then breath a huge sigh of relief.
Next, discover what you really like and appreciate about yourself and start reminding yourself of these things daily. You can start small if you want. Make a list. Be as exhaustive as possible and as specific as possible.
“I like that I am a morning person.”
“I really love my compassion for animals.”
“I love my smile.”
Any moment your mind begins to sing its song of lament, regret or spite against you, bring awareness to what it’s saying, gently stop the ranting, take a deep breath and tell yourself how much you love yourself. Pull up that list of things you really like and love about yourself and begin reciting it inside your head. Do it until you feel your body and mind relax.
While this process will seem daunting at first, and you will undoubtedly encounter resistance within yourself to doing it at all, if you simply take the first step toward awareness every step from there out gets easier and easier. And before you know it you are redirecting thoughts of love, compassion and kindness toward yourself more often than not.
For January’s article as you embark on a new year I hope to offer you more ways of being loving and compassionate with yourself so you can take self-love to the next level in 2016. Until then I wish you the most joyful of holidays and hope you will give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season.
Amy Nyland manages Love and Light LLC located at The Center for Love and Light in Atlanta, GA. Amy’s mission in life is to help spread the gospel of self-love. Learn more at: www.withloveandlight.com