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Why is loving yourself important?
Tell me, do you love yourself? Or, does the whole notion of loving yourself make you feel uncomfortable? Many of us believe that loving ourselves is not only vein and selfish, but also weak. So much so that we actually use self-criticism as a motivating force to drive ourselves towards success.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. This is because well-being has more to do with your relationship with yourself, or the lack of it, more so than anything else. A huge part of which requires that you love and accept yourself for who you are, in each and every moment. And that’s because its self-love that gives you emotional resilience and makes you really strong. Its self-love that allows you to feel worthy and that gives you unwavering confidence – allowing you to be the best you. This includes allowing yourself to dream and chase your dreams. Its self-love that provides you with the desire and long-term motivation to treat yourself including your body, with the respect, love and attention that you deserve, as opposed to relying on willpower which is fleeting. Its self-love that enables you to feel whole and complete, instead of remaining eternally unsatisfied – as if something is always missing.
And so, the more you value and love yourself, the more you are able to make better choices and therefore create abundance in every area, including your relationships, your career, your finances and your entire sense of meaning and purpose in life. In other words, loving yourself allows you to honour your truth/worthiness of what you want. And so, unless you really love yourself, then you will never achieve true successful in life.
What is loving yourself?
To love yourself means to fully accept, to trust, to honour, and to be at complete peace with yourself in each and every moment. To love yourself unconditionally means just that – to love and support yourself without any conditions attached. This doesn’t mean that you have to like everything about yourself – think about all of the people in your life like your kids or your partner – they have aspects which you don’t like but you still love them. It’s about doing the same for yourself. It’s about recognizing/seeing your perfection amongst your imperfections. In this way, loving yourself is about feeling empowered, by bringing forward your wholeness, in order to be the best you and live your best life.
How do we love ourselves?
Let me ask you this… What if the very source of the unconditional love and gratitude comes from within? Well it does, and so in order to truly love and honour who you are, you first need to work on yourself. You need to do this in two main ways – through self-development work, and through practising self-compassion. Here are some of my favourite tips when it comes to doing these…
*REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE:
Very few people love who they are, because very few people know who they really are – it’s as simple as that. First and foremost, you need to get to know who you are and you need to be able to answer the question ‘who am I really?’ This is of uttermost importance because unless you can answer this question, then you will never reach your full potential as a human being, as the full expression of who you are. And if you don’t do that then you’ll never be able to love yourself unconditionally.
And so, when I ask this question who am I, I’m not asking about the roles you play, your behaviours, your body, your possessions, your reputation, your religious beliefs or anything else which constitutes your ‘story’ so to speak. Why? Because nothing you can tell me about yourself is who you really are. So, let me ask you this – If nothing from your past defies who you are today, then who are you? Sure, this may sound crazy, because if you are none of these things then who are you … right? I mean there’s not much left for you to identify with, especially if you can’t identity with any of these things. And that’s my point — all you have left to identify with is your own presence or consciousness itself, that’s it.
In other words, what I want you to realise, is that you are of the same divine consciousness that created all things, that you are not separate from, but rather one with it, and all that constitutes life on this planet. That you are born from, and are an extension of all that is, and as such you are already perfect and whole just the way you are. And so, when you know and live in alignment with who you are, then you become automatically plugged in and charged into this universal, unlimited and unconditional source of love – the truest, deepest, most permanent source of love there is.
But if you don’t know and live in alignment with who you are, then you remain separated from this unconditional source of love that is available to all living beings, and in substitution of it, continue to base your self-worth as a person on other than transitory and fictitious based forms which constitute your story. Both of which leaves you feeling like you’re never enough, and leads to a life-long struggle of loving and accepting who you are. Not only is remembering who you are essential for loving yourself unconditionally, it is the main purpose of life itself. Obviously just reading this post is just a mental concept in your head. Instead, in order for it to help you love yourself, you need to feel who you are – something which comes with enough cognization of your very being and inner/self-development work.
Be yourself, because everybody else is taken. —Oscar Wilde
Sometimes we are scared to be ourselves, out of fear of not fitting in, or being accepted by others. But the reality is that you don’t need to be accepted by others – you just need to accept yourself. Not everyone will like you and that’s ok because you don’t like everyone either. If you are not ok with this, then you need to come to terms with that. Obviously, this can be very challenging if it comes from the people that we love the most – namely family and friends, as opposed to work colleagues or strangers. In-fact, it’s very often the people we love the most that hurt us the most too. This is because your more inclined to believe them. It becomes easy to second guess yourself and ask am I really a bad person? You can always be a better person – we all can. But this in a process.
Part of loving yourself is accepting all parts of yourself – your personality, your body and everything else. Sure, you might not love everything about yourself – we all have things we are disappointed with or may want to change, but you need to embrace them as a part of who you are. It’s about being whole – not perfect, flaws and all. You know that you love yourself when if you had a choice, you still wouldn’t be anyone else in the world but yourself. It’s about bringing more of yourself to work, at play, in relationships and anywhere else. It’s about giving yourself permission to be yourself 24/7. Being yourself is about understanding yourself and with that the true nature of everything.
If you can succeed in letting go of your entire past and being who you are, then all of the following tips below will eventually happen as a natural progression. However, in the mean-time, do them religiously…
FIND A WAY TO SERVE:
In order to fulfil the highest, truest expression of who you are, off yourself as a human being, you must find a way to serve. Martin Luther King said ‘not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.’ Service means using your occupation, your knowledge, your talent, your gift or whatever it is you produce as a way of giving back to the world. Or, it could be volunteering in your local community, or even simply offering your love and compassion to those who need it the most. Basically anything that brings more light and love to the world. For me it’s been the creation of the 3 keys – what you chew, what you do and living true, in order to enable anyone to live a happier, healthier, fitter life.
In doing so, not only do you make the world a better place, but doing so gives you a real intrinsic purpose to your life. When you begin to serve you realise that you are actually here on earth on purpose – that it’s not a mistake that you are here, and you begin to fall in love with the idea that you belong here. This makes you feel good everyday about yourself, which also makes it much easier to love who you are because you are living your life in alignment with who you really are and on purpose.
And the more you begin to truly value who you are as a person – a being with many unique talents and abilities to contribute to the world, the stronger your self-worth becomes. Remember that in order to serve, you have to honour yourself first, otherwise you have nothing to give away.
There are lots of ways to practice self-compassion. Here are just a few…
STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF:
This is a great way to love yourself more and there are numerous ways to do this including;
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF/ACHIEVEMENTS TO OTHERS:
It’s easier to love ourselves when we achieve the things we want to achieve in life, but what happens when we don’t? What happens is that we often look back and criticize ourselves for what we have or haven’t done – failed our first grade, married that jerk, didn’t take that job, etc. So much of the time we get so caught up in what we suck at, to the point that we often forget about all of the things we are good at and which we have achieved.
A pig part of this also involves not comparing ourselves to others. This includes letting go of society’s expectations including keeping up with the Jonese. Remember that your journey is yours and yours alone – yes – others may have, or have done, this or that, but that’s their journey, not yours. Everything that you have or haven’t gone through up until this point is as it should be. As long as you are doing your best in everything that you do, you cannot do any more than that.
Many of us have a dysfunctional sense of what success really is anyway – meaning we often chase what others people’s/society’s definition of success is. If you can relate to this, then it’s essential that you stop trying to prove yourself to anyone (especially your parents), by your achievements, or by your relationship, or by anything else that they wish for you to be, or do, or have. Instead, just be your own person and do whatever you want to do. If the pressure is coming from your sense of self, then shift your goal posts – often we overestimate what we can do in 1 year, and underestimate what we can do in 5. Focus on the long term, not the short, and you will get to where you want to go.
In saying that, whilst external goals and achievements are important, your primary focus should instead be on the internal. Take a minute to stop and think about all that you are right now, and then list five qualities that you cherish about yourself. E.g. I have a good heart, I’m fit, etc. Now turn the paper over and do it again. And then tomorrow I want you to ask your friends what is it that they see in you? What is it that they really love about you and what is it that they feel you are really good at? It could be that you are compassionate, or that you are a good listener. Why am I asking you to do this? Because I see who you are, but I want you to see it for yourself. Actually, I don’t just want you to see it, I want you to know it and I want you to feel it. And when you forget it, call up someone on your paper and ask them to remind you.
So, remember, self-love should have nothing to do with what you have or haven’t achieved. Instead, it should come from the fact that you’re a human-being intrinsically worthy of respect. That at your core, you are completely equal to everybody else. Sure, on the surface it may not appear that way, mostly because when it comes to material and superficial things, you will always be, do and have more or less than others. However, as you have learnt, none of these things have anything to do with who you really are.
Instead, like everyone and everything, you are an extension of the same source energy. In others words, assuming that you are a good person with a good heart, then your ‘being here’ is enough – the world needs you. You need to trust and believe that who you are is of value and worth sharing with the world. That is enough. When you care about what others think, you find that you compare yourself to others and judge yourself much more often. Whereas is you don’t care, you are much less likely to judge and compare yourself to others.
*DON’T BE A CONTROL FREAK:
With life only getting busier, many of us are finding it hard to keep up. Obviously, the constant sense of pressure from society to be it all, do it all, have it all, doesn’t help, with many of us left feeling as if we are failing in our roles as partners, parents, friends, and even as people. In short, sometimes we feel we are losing control. Accepting that you are not in control of your life is something which most of us don’t like to admit. Especially when we live in a world that warrants control – of your body including your weight, career, relationships, children, finances and everything in between. Not being in control is very damaging to your ego, reputation and how you define your self-worth.
So, what happens is we set the bar too high for ourselves, believing that failure is not often an option, and then we keep pushing on and criticizing ourselves. This can also lead to emotional eating, addictions, self-esteem issues, panic attacks, anxiety and even depression. If you can relate to this, then shift your goal-posts a little and remember that you cannot control everything in life and nor should you. Instead, learn to control the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t. Who cares if the house is a bomb-shell? Or if your kid didn’t make school captain?
Reclaim your power and use the extra energy you used for trying to control things on the fun stuff. Make time to drop the endless to-do-list and instead start making more time for play in your life. This includes being creative and just having fun – kids are great at this, so if it helps involve them too in your play time. Painting, cooking, scrapbooking, dancing, doodling, knitting, writing and singing are all creative and fun activities help boost your vibration/feelings of self-love.
*FORGIVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS:
Many of us often hold onto feelings of self-hatred, guilt, anger and other negative emotions associated to past events and attachments. However, it is these very things which take away from being whole and loving both ourselves and others fully. Therefore, it is essential to forgive everyone including yourself, for anything which may have happened in the past. Forgiveness is not a feeling you passively wait for and to come over you, but rather a conscious choice that you need to make so that you can move on with your life. Essentially you need to view forgiveness as a ‘gift’ to yourself, and one which will set you free and allow you to live more fully in the present moment. Part of this involves becoming accountable for your own life — you are in control and responsible for the way you feel at all times and no one else. Remember that no matter how much blame seems justified this is never the case.
Often the hardest person to forgive in life is ourselves. We have all made choices in our life which we are probably not so proud off. If so, then own it, but at the same time also recognize that we don’t always get it right and that’s ok – no one expects you to be perfect! Instead of judging yourself, remove the word ‘failure’ and ‘mistake’ from your vocabulary, and replace it with ‘learning experience’. Realise that there are only lessons, and the world and everything in it is your classroom in this journey we call life. This way, there is no room for self-blame, self-criticism and/or the option to adopt a victim mentality. Doing so will also help you to accept imperfections in others too, making you less judgemental.
*BE & KNOW THAT YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON:
Many of us feel for whatever reason, that we are not worthy of love/loving ourselves, often because we have an underlying belief that through some wrong life choices, we are, or have been, a bad person. Such choices might include anything from not spending enough time with your kids, not earning enough and being fat, to having no self-control around food or even being unfaithful, etc. Any and all of which, can often lead to increased feelings of resentment, guilt and even self-hatred.
You have two choices:
1.Remain in victim mentality and keep telling yourself that you are not good person. This will make it impossible for you to love yourself, meaning you will never have peace and happiness in your life.
2.Remember what I said earlier – that nothing that you can tell me about yourself or what you have done is who you are. Sure, you may have made some bad choices in the past but so what. The Creator forgives all things – you just need to forgive yourself because playing small won’t help you or anyone else. Instead, from this moment moving forward, just focus on being a good person – because if your intent is always good and you genuinely are a good person, then you will have nothing on your conscious and nothing to worry about. In other words, you will know in your heart of hearts that you are worthy of love and you will love yourself. Think about it, it’s only when you doubt whether or not you are a good person or good enough, that the love for yourself begins to waiver.
How do you be a good person? You can do so by always doing the right thing – even when other people might think it might not be. Sometimes when we make a decision, we doubt whether it was the right decision. However, just know that it is always the right decision if in the end there is peace – which will also allow you to sleep at night. Peace is not only your reward for being a good person, it’s also essential towards loving who you are.
*SPEAK KINDLY TO YOURSELF:/QUITE YOUR INNER CRITIC:
If you have a voice in your head that tells you that you suck, then chances are that someone else put it there. Our parents are a great example. Many of us grow up with parents who have their own issues – low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc, and if this is the case, then there is a good chance you have rarely heard nurturing words during the early formative years of your life. You may have often been criticized or neglected, and if so, then you probably learned to criticize and neglect yourself too. Obviously, this almost indefinitely occurred because your parents were never nurtured or encouraged by their parents whilst they were growing up either, and so their words to you simply reflected the negativity that they felt about life and themselves.
If we don’t see this for what it is – self-hatred which has been unconsciously passed down, then we can actually see it as normal. And so, whilst some amount of constructive criticism is useful in motivating ourselves to change, most of us do this in a non-constructive way. This is the nasty, harsh, belittling, you’re worthless, you’re bad, you’re no good type of criticism. This language may sound extreme, but if you were to actually write down (especially on a bad day) some of the things you say to yourself, you would be surprised at both how nasty and how frequent it really can be, e.g. I’m fat, I look ugly, I can’t do that, etc. Try it tomorrow and see how you go. The more mindful you become of judging yourself, the more you will see just how easily one judgement can often lead to many others. When you catch yourself judging yourself, then immediately try to focus on something positive about yourself. Laughing at yourself, rather than critisizing yourself, will also help to disarm the whole thing. Remember, self-compassion is the key.
*DON’T PERSONALIZE ANYTHING:
This step is all about having strong spiritual armour otherwise known as emotional resilience and not being so sensitive. We often get hurt when we personalize things such as negative comments, situations, or actions from others. Having a sensitive nature can make you feel stupid, worthless, and weak. In-fact, sometimes even a single comment can scar us for a lifetime, and cause us to experience depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. What we need to realise is that none of these things should ever be taken personally. When you know and live true to who you are, then very little of what people say or do, will affect you. In other words, you no longer personalise anything – it’s like ‘Water off a duck’s back’. This is partly due to the fact that you are no longer subconsciously seeking their approval and are no longer concerned whether you are liked or not. And so, the more you know and love yourself, the more confident you are in yourself and the less likely you are to take stuff to heart and get hurt.
Remember you are always good enough no matter what happens – whether it’s a relationship breakup, you miss out on that job you went for or anything else, none of it has to do with your worth as a person. Instead of allowing others to make you feel unworthy, stand firm in your own power and nothing will shake you. And with the world the way it is, it’s more important than ever before to love yourself, given the increased availability to interact with others across multiple platforms. This includes social media and some people have nothing else better to do with their time than to put others down. And when it can reach you even in the safety and comfort of your own home 24/7, then you definitely to stay in your power to prevent it getting to you.
Many of us use our body-shape to not only define who we are, but also as a primary way to define our self-esteem – women especially. Given the fact that most of us are not in shape (almost 80% of Australians are overweight or obese) and hate our bodies, it very easy to see who so few of us love who we are.
If this is the case, what I want you to realise is that your body is the temple of your soul, meaning that it houses the very essence of who you are – your true self. Without your body, you wouldn’t even exist, and you definitely wouldn’t be reading this post today. We often get so caught up with how good others are, or how good technology is, but we often forget just how amazing our own body is. The fact that it makes thousands of computations every minute of every day, enabling you to not only survive, but also thrive. Think about it, not only can your body heal and regenerate itself, but it can also create life itself. And there is no computer that even comes close to matching the power of the human brain. Your body really is amazing, and we need to give it so much more credit for what it does for us.
If you are unhappy with your body, then remember that body didn’t do this to you – you done this to your body. If you need to lose some weight or whatever then do it, but hating your body is of no purpose. Instead love and accept your body for what it is, because its only by doing so that you will then begin to treat your body with the love, respect and attention that it deserves. The key is to instead become focused on the perfection inside of you which is your true self, to the exclusion of everything else.
A great way to do this and more fully accept who you are is to practice a simple mirror exercise (best done without make-up). The idea is to look at yourself eye-to-eye in your mirror and simply observe what you see. Forget about any wrinkles or acne and see yourself objectively. Try also to tune in and observe what your heart is telling you about the person looking straight back at you. If you feel uncomfortable or have negative perceptions of who is staring back at you, then smile at yourself and say an affirmation like ‘you are beautiful,’ ‘I am comfortable with who I am’ or ‘I love you.’
Keep working with the same affirmation until it feels natural and true for you. Do this once a day for the next few months and observe how you feel. Keeping up with this activity is a great way to shift any negative perceptions you might have about yourself and ground yourself in the truth of who you are. You will start to give yourself an experience of yourself in a different way, as it begins to connect to your own innate intelligence. Do this activity for a day, for weeks, for months, for years. And keep on doing it, and eventually your body will respond and you will feel it in a hug, and your body/innate intelligence will begin to work with you, rather than against you. Respect for life starts with respect for self, and that starts with looking after your own body!
*CREATE A SELF-CARE PLAN:
Self-Love must first start with self-care, so make the time to look after yourself and be well. This includes things like doing regular exercise, practicing mindfulness, getting a good night’s sleep and everything else in-between. Essentially everything that I talk about in what you chew and what you do in this blog space. You can do this by creating a self-care plan/routine which as an example, a day could look something like this; awaken after 8-9hrs sleep, 10 minutes of dynamic stretches/yoga, have a nutritious breakfast, take a shower with energetic clearing, take an active outdoors lunch break with a healthy pre-prepared lunch, enjoy a healthy dinner with family/friends and meaningful conversation, pre-prepare tomorrows nutrition, take an aromatic bath, have a herbal tea, reflect upon the day gone and the day ahead, read a favourite book, sleep and repeat the next day.
On top of doing all of the essential things required to maintain optimum wellbeing, it’s also important to do something nice for yourself every day. I say this because whilst many of us find it very easy to do nice things for others, sometimes we find it hard to do nice things for ourselves. So, make a habit of doing nice things for yourself, even if it’s something as simple as buying yourself flowers each week, taking yourself on a picnic, or even pampering yourself with a monthly massage. The idea is to become your own best friend, and hold the space for love in your own being. The more you do this, the more you will begin to feel more radiant, beautiful, confident and alive. And the more you will begin to love yourself without conditions.
Obviously, you will need to put yourself first to do these things, otherwise even the best intentions to do so may go unmet due to the sheer busyness of life these days. And that is the last thing you want to do, because not doing these things will leave you feeling worse about yourself. Just think about how terrible you feel when you eat junk and skip your workouts.
Its also worth mentioning that you can also boost feelings of self-love simply by creating a loving environment too. This includes things like playing your favourite music, burning certain oils, placing crystals such as rose quartz in certain areas, keeping freshly cut flowers and placing inspiring works of art in and around your home.
*LOVE YOURSELF AS THE CREATOR LOVES YOU:
The greatest energy on the planet is quantum and it is called love/God/Gaia/a higher source (or whatever you want to call it) and it is everywhere. You don’t need to look for it, it simply exists in the atomic structure of everything that exists. It is the basic building block of everything that is, including the consciousness of the human being. Whether you believe in this higher source or not is no longer questionable, but rather a fact of science. Evidence shows that life is not just random, but rather that there is some higher, benevolent and unknown source at work.
You don’t have to convince me that God exists, I already know – and no I am not religious in case you are wondering. But I suppose what I want you to know, is that you are a part of the plan of God and of all of creation. You are completely unique – no other person is the same as you anywhere in the world which is amazing. So next time you stand in front of a mirror, I want you to look straight ahead and into your eyes and know that you are a piece of the creator/an extension of God.
I want you to know that God knows and accepts you for who you are. Nothing you can do, or don’t do, can displease God, because God loves you unconditionally. The only way I can explain this specific kind of love, is that it is somewhat similar to the love that you have for your children. And it is a love that is freely available to all of us, when we go inside and connect with it. In-fact, the most loving, divine and fulfilling relationship that you can ever have in your life, is your connection with the internal source that always was, and always will be, and this is a source that is inside you.
Trust me, I wish I could instantly open you up right now to the love that God feels for you, just as I feel. It would cancel all of the doubts you have about God as well as any lack of worthiness in an instant. In-fact, when you are connected to God you don’t hear anything else but benevolence, which makes it impossible for you not to love yourself. Obviously, me telling you that you are made in the image of the creator and that God loves you is not going to enable you to love yourself unconditionally.
Instead, you need to cognize this to the point where this becomes your truth, to the point where you believe it as much as you believe in something like gravity. In other words, it needs to become part of your cellular structure. It’s like the light off a bright fire that burns forever, but at the same time it’s deliberately hidden so that it’s your free choice to access it or not.
To access it, you just have to let go of your fear, your ego, your scepticism and intentionally ask for this higher power to take your hand, and to show you the truth of who you really are. Ensure to live true and to work on yourself, and then ask again and repeat this process. Patience is key. Soon enough, you too will feel this unconditional love from God, and in doing so, will never feel unworthy in any way ever again. Opening the door will make you a better and more balanced human.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT AND UPLIFT YOU:
Surround yourself only with people who respect who you are, who always want the best for you, and whom love and support you no matter what. Why? Because the company you keep will have a big influence on how you see yourself. The more you let others treat you badly, the more likely you are to treat yourself the same way. Life is already hard enough without having others making it harder for you. And its way to precious to spend time and energy on people who just suck us dry – we have to do it and enjoy it with people we love. So never let anyone make you feel as if you are unworthy, because you are magnificent and worthy beyond belief. If they do make you feel unworthy and flat, then sure, give them a warning if you must, but cut ties with anyone who constantly leaves you feeling that way – and yes this includes family and friends!
Then instead, surround yourself with people who will fill up your cup until it runs over, and who leave you feeling uplifted. This could include your partner, your family and your friends. Remember that people who want the best for you, want you to be your best. This includes surrounding yourself with people that you are just like you – essentially your ‘tribe.’ Not only will you become less judgemental of others, but also invariably of yourself too – which is especially important if you are someone who feels as if they are different, or as if you don’t belong. Online communities have now made meeting and interacting with people just like you easier than ever which is fantastic.
Remember, self-development and self-compassion really are the keys to loving yourself unconditionally. Loving and being kind to yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Its not easy, but if you do these things, I promise you that you will get there!
So, tell me, do you love yourself unconditionally and if not then why not? What do you need to do today, to start loving yourself without conditions tomorrow? I want to know! Leave a comment,