A couple of days ago I was speaking to some of my clients during a workshop and discussing possible ways to understand how to love ourselves better. There was so much interest that I decided to share with you the tips I gave them. They’ve an accumulative effect but can also be used one at a time. Enjoy loving yourself from now on.
Grab a sheet of paper and for once, make the effort of defining what you LIKE in yourself, rather than finding whatever it is that you believe needs changing/improving. Identify 3 things you like in each of the following fields:
Bodily – define 3 items you enjoy on your body, including your face: your hair, your walking style, your height, your posture… anything.
Emotional – define 3 traits in you that you enjoy: generous, hard-working, sentimental… anything.
Abilities – define 3 skills you have that you like: good handwriting, well organized, fast learner… anything.
Each morning after breakfast and every evening before you go to bed, look at yourself in the mirror, look deeply into your eyes, and remind you of these 9 things you like in yourself. Praise them. Praise yourself for them. Do not forget that there are AT LEAST 9 things in you which you like.
It might be hard, specially at the beginning, because we’re so used to doing just the opposite and looking for flaws, mistakes and so on. But do try. Give yourself a break and be honest; stop JUST trying to find the bad in you and start looking for, and praising, the GOOD.
Identify and improve your model
To begin with, ask yourself who your teacher was. Who taught you how you can enjoy yourself as a human being? From a friend? Once you identify who you heard it from, ask yourself if you really like the way that individual loved him or herself. Is that the sort of love you want to provide yourself? If it is, can you improve it? If it is not, can not you find a better role model to imitate? The role model does not need to be a person that you know but may also be a character in a book or film. Yes, I know they might not be”real” but what they’re portraying is the type of love that you want to give yourself. Focus on this and find out what they do to transmit that love. At the end of the day, you only want to know how to do it better.
If you’re like many others, each time somebody praises you, your mind immediately looks for some sort of fault in you to counteract the positive comment you may receive. For instance, someone says something nice about your hair or clothing today; your mind instantly reminds you of the…”yes, but even if this looks OK these days, it’s usually horrible,” or”yes, but look at my nose, even the best haircut can’t hide that ugly thing in my head,” or something of this sort. Sounds familiar?
I challenge you to turn your”yes buts” the other way round. Every time you hear OR THINK something negative about yourself, I want you to make the attempt to consciously say, think or replicate a”yes but” in a positive sense. Case in point: you think,”gosh, my hair looks awful today!” (which would usually make you feel bad for a while after the thought happened). This time I want you to”yes and” it in a positive manner…”yes, which means I want to test that new hat on,” or”yes, and that is why I can do it in a different fashion today” or whatever ends the thinking process on a positive note.
Our brains follow established paths. Let us create some new ones for ourselves.
Value your actions
If you started applying the first recommendation, then you should already be valuing 9 positive things in you. Now I would like you to feel grateful also. Every day, before going to sleep, consider 3 things you did . Value your work or your own contribution. Celebrate having done those great deeds and congratulate yourself for them. Feel grateful for everything that led you to being able to do what you did. Feel grateful for the individuals who made it possible; feel grateful for your skills, knowledge or abilities; feel thankful for being there when you needed to; feel grateful for having decided to do whatever it is you did… Feel thankful for being you. Gratitude is a really powerful feeling which makes our brains release dopamine, which reduces anxiety, improves our mood and our levels of energy and motivation.
Give yourself hope
Another little but powerful tool to love oneself is giving ourselves the gift of hope. And I do not mean sleeping. Before you go to sleep but once you’re already in bed, I want you to daydream. The only rule is that the dreams are favorable. If a negative thought attempts to enter your mind, make the conscious effort to replace it and return to your happy reverie. Imagine the good things that will happen to you tomorrow or this week. Visualize the dreams. Imagine them in great detail and have the pleasure of an artist creating a wonderland. Let yourself enjoy the joyful feeling; after all, it is only in your imagination. But… your brain does not know it! When we make the conscious effort to imagine and attempt to experience joyful feelings, our mind believes the”dream” and begins releasing chemical products which make us feel great: endorphines, oxytocin and the like. Because of this, our bodies relax and not only can we really sleep better, which is an important gift in itself, but once again, our mind discovers new paths into happier feelings. Consider this time a present to yourself. We are not daydreaming to create a new reality; this isn’t the power we’re trying to use. The goal is to get a nice, hopeful time to let our minds and bodies unwind and make us feel good about life.
These five simple exercises will gradually help you love yourself . By loving yourself , you will start having better feelings about yourself and, as a result, about the world. You’ll soon begin feeling better in general. After all, we can not change the world unless we change ourselves first.
Choose the sort of life you want to live. Choose to love yourself and others will see the love in you.
Enjoy life, ALL of it,