Self-Love: 3 Ways To Love Yourself More

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Whitney Houston sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” But why is self-love so important? And why is it the hardest kind of love to master?

“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” – Margo Anand

Self Love

Imagine that you and I are standing face to face and I proudly tell you, “I love myself”. What would your initial reaction be?

Would you think, “That’s nice, I’m pleased he feels that way”?

Would you think, “Er, OK, that’s a weird thing to share openly”?

Or would you think, “Wow, he’s full of himself. He must have an over-inflated ego”?

Of course, what you think will be in some way based on the existing beliefs and perceptions you already have of me, but interestingly, it will also be (and perhaps more so) indicative of your own comfort level with the topic of self-love.

Virtually all personal growth and spiritual disciplines throughout time point towards the importance of loving and accepting yourself. Psychologists call it ‘positive self regard’. And it is not important just because it feels nice; it’s important because your attitude towards yourself shows up everywhere in your reality.

[pullquote align=”left”]”…there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.”[/pullquote]The desire to overcome any problem you have in life is really, at its core, a desire to heal the relationship within. It may not look that way on the outside, but unconsciously you recognise that the world is just a mirror reflecting your self-image right back at you.

As happiness expert, Dr Robert Holden, writes in his book, Loveability, “The quality of your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationship with everything else.”

This is the ultimate truth about where authentic lasting happiness really comes from.

The more willing we are to accept and love ourselves just the way we are, the less we go looking for comfort and happiness in the wrong places. I guess one way of looking at it is that there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.

No amount of comfort-eating can come close the comfort of self-acceptance.

A credit card transaction can never love you like you can love you.

Judging and proving others wrong will never give you the same inner satisfaction as when you give up judging yourself.

Obsessing that your partner doesn’t love you enough becomes irrelevant when you love yourself enough.

So why is the whole self-love thing so hard?

A lot of it has to do with our conditioning. We want so badly to be accepted by others and to maintain a ‘meaningful’ identity, that the truth about who we really are gets concealed by our glossy personas. Anything we think or feel on the inside that contradicts our socially pleasing outer image becomes a target for our own disrespect.

Self-love gets a bad press, particularly in the western world.

We are taught to value humility and are put off by self-righteousness. We confuse self-love for narcissism and so comply with the social expectation of loving others more than we love ourselves. The irony is that the way we offer our love to them is driven by own capacity for self-love.

[pullquote align=”right”]”The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally.”[/pullquote]When we say things like, “She really loves herself”, we often don’t mean it in a good way. If we don’t like it in others, we’re certainly not going to like in ourselves. But what we are resisting there is an ‘egotistical’ self regard, which is very different to the more authentic kind of self-love that heals our lives.

I used to have an awful relationship with myself. I had a lot of love to give, but none of it was for me. The mistaken belief I had was that my happiness was dependent on how much other people approved of me.

I had a lot of friends, but I put so much energy into trying to be what I thought they wanted me to be that I was always anxious about being exposed as a fraud. Weirdly, my strategy for finding happiness was the exact same strategy that was making me miserable.

It wasn’t until I learned about the true nature of happiness that I felt brave enough to look my insecurities in the face and see what love could do. What I noticed was as I treated myself with more kindness and compassion, everything in my life got better. I felt happier, healthier, more present, more authentic and more available to others.

If you only ever set one goal in life, make it the goal of loving yourself wholly and completely. It might be the most challenging journey you ever embark on, but no other journey will be as rewarding or have such a vital impact on so many areas of your life. Make it your mission to observe how your relationship with everyone and everything improves as your relationship with yourself improves.

 

HOMEWORK

 

Here are three things you can begin to focus on right now to strengthen your foundations of self-love. Grab yourself a journal, sit somewhere quiet and be generous with the time you spend reflecting openly and honestly on this exercise.

1, Appreciation

List 5 qualities you genuinely appreciate about yourself, exactly as you are, right now. Perhaps its your courage, your caring nature, your parenting skills. Whatever they are, let yourself sink in the feeling of appreciation that these qualities are present in you, and positive difference they make to your life.

2, Forgiveness

It is impossible to truly love yourself and hold onto judgment at the same time. List 5 things you are willing to forgive yourself for. Perhaps its for the times you’ve put yourself down, for past errors in judgement, or for not looking after your physical / emotional wellbeing.

Sometimes self-forgiveness comes easy and sometimes there is resistance. If there are things about yourself you find hard to forgive, please stick with it. The purpose of forgiveness is not to simply make ourselves feel better about the past; it is to restore ourselves to our truest potential, so we can extend our best, most loving selves out into the world.

3, Acceptance

On a spiritual level you are already perfect. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your soul. But on a practical, human level, there are always going to be things that you are good at and things that you are not so good at.

The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally. This means loving your rough edges too.

List 5 ways you can be more accepting of your whole self. For example, see if you can love your body just the way it is right now? It doesn’t mean you won’t still work at getting into better shape; it just means you don’t have to hate it while you do.

Can you make your peace with not being the most gifted driver, diplomat, artist or intellectual on the planet? None of these abilities have anything to do with your ability to accept and love yourself fully now.

 

I hope you are inspired to focus on you today. Please let me know how helpful this post is to you by dropping a comment in the box below.

With love

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