A few years back, I found myself falling head-over-heals for a new man in town.
He was strikingly handsome, sensitive yet strong, and well attuned to the tones and shifts of my inner world. His sexy British accent melted me and his is dry humor sent me into stitches with laughter. I quickly opened my heart to him and felt ecstatic when he chose to enter.
With him in my life, I shined in full glow.
Then one horrible night . . . he turned around and walked right out.
“I need to talk to you,” he said. My anxiety spike before these words even left his mouth. He announced that he truly savored our connection and loved having me in his life. But, he had grown stronger feelings for another woman. “I am sorry,” he said and made it clear that he planned to exit our relationship.
My insides nauseously swirled with hurt and disappointment. Rage roared inside of me like something I’d never felt. Yet, astonishingly . . . as I sat across from him . . . shocked and speechless, I was taken by something more consuming than my full body experience of, “Ouch!”
Over the dramatic din of my hurt, disappointment and rage, I heard a voice inside of me proclaim, “I love myself! I am lovable and beautiful! You may walk away and choose her but I will not let you steal my glow.” A flush of warmth rushed in as I contemplated these words. My gosh, it was true, I really believed them.
I did love myself.
I was deeply moved by the recognition that I may have lost his love, but had truly found my own.
Love was not lost. It was found!
In the following painful weeks that I was no longer spending with my “no longer” man, I had plenty of time to acquaint myself with my new found self-love.
This love was powerful enough to stop the onslaught of negative comparisons that arose when I asked myself, “Why her and not me?” I chose to own my spark and worthiness instead of playing the victim and letting my harsh inner-critic run the show.
Through the lens of self-love, I recognized my inherent goodness and wholeness, even when I was confronted by the wandering whims of a man and my own self-doubt. I still had wounds to lick, but self-love was the ultimate healing salve.
My experience of love, love lost and love found brought a bounty of gifts. The most precious of them is discovering my passion for illuminating the path of self-love for all women.
How do we grow to love ourselves?
What practices cultivate a deep self-regard that strips away the layers of shame, judgment and self-doubt that dull our inner glow?
Stay tuned . . . You are about to read, “10 Ways to Love Your Self”, a series of practices and perspectives that actually helped me grow the resilience to survive the devastating heartache I just shared with you.
I sincerely hope you take these practices to heart and use them! I truly believe they will help you feel more confident, connected and empowered in your life.
10 WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF
1. Stop Making Your Self Wrong
Hey ladies, listen up!
Who do you think you are, beating yourself up like that?
You wouldn’t talk that way to your girlfriend, would you?
Shaming and blaming your self is one sure-fire way to extinguish your glow. I don’t care whether or not you hurt someone, let yourself down or simply royally screwed up!
You are always deserving of unconditional positive regard.
Next time your inner critic gets feisty, tell it to STOP. Rather than adding insult to injury, be a good mother to yourself.
Shower yourself with the nurturing qualities of compassion, patience and forgiveness. Extending this tenderness towards yourself is the first step to cultivating self-love.
2. Question Your Assumptions
If you believe everything you think, you are playing the fool!
Cultivating self-love requires the wisdom to look beyond your limited perception.
Distinguish between what you concretely observe with your senses and what you imagine or the meaning you create from your objective data.
For example, “I feel anxious because I haven’t heard from my boyfriend since he left town for the weekend. I imagine that he hasn’t called because he met some other girl at that party he was going to last night.”
Ask yourself, “What current proof do I have that this thought is true?”
Unless he actually calls to confirm your hunch, your pain-provoking story is nothing more than mere invention.
Be curiously skeptical of your thoughts before they paint the unknown with stories that will cause you to suffer.
3. Redefine “Selfish”
So you feel selfish, huh?
Let me ask you something . . .
Are you a woman who lacks consideration for others or a woman who lacks consideration for herself?
You are probably highly attuned to the needs of others, but struggle to put your own needs first.
Your needs and wishes are valid and valuable!
Love yourself by fiercely committing to listen to and honor your deepest needs and wishes in each moment.
A healthy and self-loving woman stands by her own needs as she also acknowledges and respects the needs of those around her.
This means she has the flexibility to chose to when she is available to attend to another’s needs, compromise, or simply say “no”.
4. Embrace Your “NO”
The part of you that is highly attuned to the needs of others is likely the same part that loves to say, “Yes”.
“Yes, I’ll go out with you (even though I’m really not that interested).”
“Ok, I’ll stay late after work to help you finish that project (even though I’ll miss my yoga class again.)”
“Sure, you can crash at my place one more night (even though I want to wring your neck!).”
Doing favors that you resist out of obligation, indebtedness or fear of losing connection will leave you feeling drained and resentful.
Instead, say “YES” to favors when you are inspired by an authentic desire to help. Embrace your “NO” when you notice that you feel motivated by guilt. The more you respond to requests from a place of integrity, the more your self-respect will grow.
5. Slow Down
Hey speed addict!
Are you going to let your life run away with you?
Staying fast and busy are superficial ways to feed your ego’s hunger to be popular, productive and capable. Your need for speed may also point to your avoidance of feeling sad, anxious, angry, lonely, or unlovable.
Next time you get swept up in life’s tornado . . .
Take three long deep breaths into your lower belly. And engage your senses by making contact with the sights and sounds around you.
This simple practice will help you anchor into the present moment where self-love is most available to you.
6. Say “YES” to Your Feelings
Your willingness to say “YES” to your feelings is directly linked to your capacity to love yourself.
Your feelings are never inherently bad or wrong, they are just uncomfortable. Your fear of staying with them will add another layer of suffering to your pain.
Saying “YES” begins with establishing an attitude of attention, allowing and acceptance for your feelings.
Make space for your feelings by taking a deep breath and turning your attention to the specific quality of sensations that live in your body.
Does your sadness manifest as tightness in your throat, or heaviness in your chest?
Can you feel the aliveness of your anger as your blood begins boil?
Let your feelings move through you rather than resist or possess them. You may be surprised that when you welcome your feelings, you may experience far less discomfort than you originally imagined.
7. Cultivate Solitude
Cruising on Facebook, zoning out in front of the tube, late night snacking or packing your calendar with social events are all excellent ways to avoid being with your Self.
We are talented strategists when it comes to dodging our loneliness!
The truth is that consciously choosing solitude is a great antidote for the suffering we feel when we resist it.
Carve out five to ten minutes at the beginning or end of your day to put distractions aside and just be with yourself.
This is a great time to practice saying yes to your feelings. You may also want to journal, meditate, make art, write poetry, or light a candle and just breath.
What happens when you stop pushing away your loneliness and actually become your own best company?
8. Own Your Longing
Your desire for a romantic partner, a job that ignites your passion, a body that you enjoy and friendships that nourish your soul are precious and essential aspects of your feminine nature.
How you choose to relate to your longing will determine your ability to ride it’s inevitable waves or drown in suffering.
Cultivating a positive and compassionate relationship to your longing, even when the object of your desire seems far away, will fuel the focus, determination, and patience that is required to eventually attract your deepest wish.
Own your longing by relaxing your body and allowing your desire’s physical surges of energy to wash over you. Believe you are worth receiving your wish. Focus your attention on the already abundant aspects of your life and spend less energy negatively obsessing on the have-nots.
There is something stunningly enticing about a woman who is open and vulnerable with her longing.
9. Practice Pleasure
Savor the luscious sweetness of a fresh fig dancing over your tongue . . .
Inhale fragrant rose oil wafting up from your steaming bath . . .
Shiver from the electric surge of ocean water washing over your bare feet . . .
Delight in the dappled light glimmering through a grove of oak tress . . .
Sing along to the sound of that sappy, romantic tune that you always put on repeat . . .
Your five senses – taste, smell, touch, sight and sound – are the doorway to your feminine bliss!
Feed your inner glow by mindfully tuning-in to the subtlety of your senses. Being open to receive their treasures in each moment will dramatically enhance your capacity for joy.
The more authentic joy you experience, the more you will love your Self and delight in your life.
10. Speak Your Truth
Now that you have carefully questioned your thoughts, considered your needs, said “YES” to your feelings and owned your desires, I challenge you to unabashedly express them!
The final key to cultivating self-love is finding the courage to let them be known, even when you fear losing connection.
Speaking your truth can be scary, especially when what your share is confronting or vulnerable. Soothe yourself in the face of fear by using the other tools you have learned here.
Slow down, take a deep breath, notice your feelings and trust that what you have to share is valid and valuable. Be open to the possibility that offering your authentic expression may actually enhance the quality of your connection.
If you turn someone off, at least you will love yourself more for standing up for what you believe in!
Still feel like you need help in the self love department? We’re here to be your guide. Schedule a Session at one of our San Francisco offices if you’d like to take the first step in feeling more confident, connected and empowered in your life.