The single most important skill and feeling that can improve your happiness level is to be able to love yourself unconditionally.
Easy to say and often overused in the spiritual and self development world, it can feel as if there is no clear direction on the how part of it. If you are someone who might have understood why it is important to love yourself but need more clarity on how, then this article will be useful for you.
Firstly, I want to stress that there is no magic formula and there are no shortcuts. If you are hardwired since childhood to be hard on yourself, to doubt yourself, to berate yourself or even hate yourself then it will take consistent effort and re conditioning to get to a place where you can consistently feel love for yourself.
By consistent, I mean habits, rituals, behaviors and thought patterns that you choose to practice on a daily basis. There are no off days from loving yourself. And believe me when I say this - it is the most wonderful and empowering feeling to be able to deliberately choose to love yourself and not wait for your life circumstances to be perfect to reward yourself with that self love.
Here are some ways in which you can learn how to love yourself again. I say again because as a child you intrinsically knew your value and loving yourself was your default setting. As you grew you unconsciously picked up beliefs and thought patterns from your environment and the people around you, that chipped away at this very precious and vital feeling for yourself.
Heal your inner self - The first step in developing a healthy relationship with yourself is to heal your past wounds and traumas. When you acknowledge your inner child/ younger self by having a dialogue with that version of yourself, you start the process of releasing the emotions that might be stuck in you in relation to that trauma. Look into your eyes in the mirror and address your inner child and tell her/him that you are safe now, that you are loved and appreciated. Acknowledge the pain you went through and declare that you are now fine and all is well.
Practice daily affirmations reminding yourself of how special you are. Create affirmations starting with " I am" and use them as often as you can. The point is to start using them and stay consistent. You might feel weird at the beginning or these affirmations might not evoke any feelings of love for yourself. But be patient and keep repeating them to yourself. If you start to feel emotional , that is a good sign. It just means you really needed to say this to yourself. And remember when someone else tells you " You are amazing and so smart" , it makes you feel so good about yourself so have you wondered why you don't believe it when you say it to yourself. It's because you have for such a long time given away your own power to others that you have started to believe that others will decide your value and worth. I urge you to take back the power and depend more on yourself to make you feel good about yourself.
Write love letters to yourself - You are the center of your universe. But you have forgotten that in the busyness of having a career , taking care of a family and managing others expectations. The practice of writing a love letter to your self every now and then to proclaim deep love, respect and loyalty to yourself can be very healing and cathartic.
Looking for evidence - This is a really special way that I personally love doing that makes me feel so good about myself and deepens the neural connections in my brain that signal self love. In this practice you look for evidence in your daily life that prove how awesome you are. Now they don't necessarily require to be big things that you have done or experienced. Infact, it is not the evidence that is important but the mere act of looking for it which signals your brain to assume that you are awesome. And when you do see evidence. Speak about it, register it, write it if you can and take stock of it. For example - At times I will notice that I got a nudge from my intuition to call a friend and when I get to learn that she was remembering me too, I make a big deal to congratulate myself and acknowledge how awesome I am to listen to and trust my intuition. Or when I reverse park my car really well, I will acknowledge and congratulate myself for being so amazing at parking. Now I know these are mundane tasks but it all adds up. Why wait for the big accomplishments that are so far and few to appreciate yourself.
Meditate - I have previously written to you about the impact of meditation on your brain. You can read about it here. In simple terms, when you meditate you plug into the operating system of your brain - your subconscious programming. Anything that you suggest to yourself during the Theta brain wave stage of your meditation will start to replace your old patterns of thoughts and beliefs that don't serve you. So find the time to meditate even if it is for ten minutes a day. Its the best gift you can give yourself and it can change your life in very profound ways. There are many guided meditations available for free on the internet. My favorite is the free app called Omvana.
Self talk - How you talk to yourself will contribute towards how you feel about yourself. Be mindful about your self talk. When something goes wrong in your day, when you are faced with challenges or when someone is not nice to you, how do you process these events and how do you talk to yourself ? Do you find fault with yourself ? Do you pull yourself down ? Do you self criticize ? The way you feel is an indicator of your inner dialogue which is probably on auto mode. So becoming aware of how you treat yourself and what you say to yourself will help you feel better about your self.
Self care routines - Your self care routines are directly proportionate to how you feel about yourself. So have a look at your daily routines. Do you take out time for yourself ? Do you do things specifically to take care of yourself ? Your self care items don't have to be big things like spa visits or massages, Though that's lovely too. I am talking about the little things that you can do for yourself like take your time to moisturize your skin with something that smells nice or step out in nature often to connect with your breath and the universe or paint your nails if that makes you feel good. Its in doing these small routine things that you will experience the biggest impact. So create some daily habits for yourself to connect to your self and to take care of yourself.
Loving yourself is not negotiable and is the best thing you can do for yourself to improve the quality of your life and relationships. Consider this, a recent Harvard study says that your external circumstances only determine 10% of your long term happiness and the remaining 90% depends on your internal environment so it would make sense to prioritize these daily practices that will contribute to your overall happiness.
If you need support and accountability while you embark on this self discovery journey then please reach out to me at email@example.com