3 tips for Self-Love
This is meant for you if you recognize that self-love isn’t exactly a familiar part of your life. Perhaps you’re harder on yourself than you are on others. It may be hard to accept gifts or gratitude. You find it far easier to love others. You may even tire yourself out in pursuit of love from others, in order to fulfill your need.
I’ve been trying to confront this issue for the past several years.
Mostly this thing called self-love seemed like an unwinnable battle . . .
I mean, it has seemed for so long that I can want it, but I cannot will it.
So, I decided to ask for a bit of help . . . approached several people in my life with the question, “How do you go about loving yourself?” I heard several inspiring tips, for example:
- “On the harder days, I go to bed with a hot water bottle as a means to comfort and care for myself.”
- “I make sure I do several things a week that I really love to do.”
- “I treat my body to a healthy, delicious meal.”
And my closest friend, Michael Hanson, wrote to me the following:
I just dig deep and remember that my heart wants only to love, and be loved, and that love would include ME. It’s so easy to leave our SELVES out of the mix, when in fact we’re just as worthy of love as everyone else. And as a reminder, I have a framed picture of me as a little boy hanging in my bedroom that I look at daily to remind myself of my innocence, and all the loneliness that little boy felt, and I make promises to him that he will not be abandoned, left alone, ever again. This helps, too.
This one stopped me in my tracks. I knew it was a very important message, and I wanted so much to take it in and DO it. I found a picture of me as a little girl, and yet I continued to struggle with it all.
Not long ago, I found myself in a strange conflict—a misunderstanding, really—with a relatively new friend. We were in the process of working it out, and I was telling her in all earnest that I understood her positive intention and was completely able to move beyond it. She let me know she didn’t quite trust it—that she feared I was just reassuring without being fully honest about my feelings.
I felt such despair in that moment, like “it’s just not possible to trust in a loving friendship.”
What happened next was profoundly significant—the next step to bring a major shift in me. I felt some angry voice rising up from deep within. Typically I hush this voice, having believed most of my life anger is shameful.
But this time I listened to my anger, because as always it had something really important to say.
After taking a few moments for myself, I expressed to my friend, “I have so much love to give, and I long for it to be received with ease and flow!”
At that moment, I was very much directing this statement to her, to others in my life, people from my past, and even those I’ve yet to meet. Then, within a few hours . . .
I realized that *I* am the person I most long to receive my message!
There is plenty of love I have to give—so that also means it’s there for ME. Can I just stop blocking it already?
Ever since, I’ve experienced a deep change in me, a paradigm shift. I had it within my power for so long, and yet . . .
It took me being nearly 45 years old for one part of me to deliver it to another part of me in a way that could truly sink in.
Hearing the message and various tips from others didn’t seem to make much of dent like this internal conversation did.
I’m ever so grateful for it, because I feel far more inner strength, I’m sleeping better, my lower back pain has practically gone away, I’m more capable of receiving AND giving love, and I’m feeling more fulfilled than I have in . . . perhaps forever.
3 tips for increasing self-love:
- Learn to notice when you are looking for love outside yourself. For example, you might go into pleasing, care-taking, helping mode, unable to say “no”—less out of your own intrinsic motivation and more out of a desire to “get something in return” like a compliment, appreciation, reassurance (all short-term external fixes for love).
- Learn to take in fully what others are trying to give you. Often when receiving a genuine compliment, we don’t know how to let it sink in. Next time you notice this, ask the person, “what did I do or say specifically to lead you to think or feel this way?” For example, when my husband says, “you’re beautiful,” I ask him what it is about me (today) that he finds beautiful. His answer always varies!
- When you find that you are believing the thought, “I have to do more, be more, do it differently, better, more this, more that”—different than what is—notice your fear and give it some space, perhaps even some gratitude for trying to protect you. Then make a conscious choice to love yourself instead. Just exactly where you are. Choose to trust, to receive love and not allow fear or anything else to block it. Speak the words, “I love you” and let it in with an open heart. Then feel it flow in and out and all around you.