"Love is the miracle cure. Loving myself works miracles in my life." Louise Hay
Everyone's heard this self-help platitude: We need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. This may be true but we learn self-love by being loved, especially in the places where we feel most unsure and most vulnerable. If you show vulnerability in a relationship and it is met with disinterest or criticism, something inside of us starts to shrivel and we may think twice about ever sharing that part again. This actually starts in childhood.
Having said that, when you love yourself you are better able to receive love. It's easy to pick the parts you don't like about yourself. I hear it all the time in my practice. If I were to ask my clients three things they hate about themselves, the question would be easy to answer. But, when I ask them to tell me three things they love about themselves, they often sit there in silence. I tell them, three is a small number, there are many more great things about themselves.
Why do people in our society struggle so much with loving themselves? We are human, we are not perfect and we all make mistakes. Stop hating yourself and start loving yourself. The psychological rewards will amaze you. You will have better health and better relationships. Here are ten tips to help you start loving yourself today:
- Choosing ourselves. Even if it may upset others. This may mean setting better boundaries with friends or even your boss. This may help you sleep better and feel better about yourself. It's easy to put ourselves last. Many things get in the way, like work or family. Start to put yourself first on the list. It really is true, we can't take care of anyone else unless we take care of ourselves.
- Give yourself a permission slip. Allow yourself to make mistakes. No one is perfect, we are human and we all make mistakes. This is like giving yourself a pass, just like you would to a friend or family member. It's easy to give others a permission slip but not ourselves. Stop putting the expectation of being perfect on yourself.
- Allow yourself to dream. Remember when you were a child and all of the dreams you had. What happened to them? Don't focus on whether or not they come true, just allow them to happen. This will do wonders for your emotional state.
- End all toxic relationships. Don't stay with anyone that makes you feel bad or hurts you. This can actually be harmful to your health. There are actually a lot of really good people out there that can't wait to meet you.
- Stop beating yourself up with negative self talk. This is something we have all done and it really is a waste of time. We tell ourselves things that aren't true. Maybe, these are things you heard growing up or in a prior relationship. Replace each negative thought with a positive thought. It can be as simple as, today will be a fresh start.
- Take a time out to calm your mind everyday. Another one of those simple things that many people think they don't have time for. Five minutes of deep breathing or meditation can do wonders for the brain and the body. You are totally worth at least five minutes.
- Let go of the past. Stop blaming your parents for current issues. They aren't perfect either. This is a great time to start practicing gratitude. What do you appreciate about yourself and your parents? Write a list and keep it close by. This will help when you are feeling down.
- Be realistic. Nobody is happy all the time and a real friend doesn't expect you to be happy all the time. We feel both good and bad emotions, and that is alright. Allow yourself to be human.
- Have fun. Do the things that really light your fire. Having fun is good for your health. Make it a priority. Make sure to plan time to have fun with the people who treat you right and that you most enjoy being with.
- And lastly, don't stop believin' in yourself. Don't give up on you. Don't let others opinions of you bring you down. Remember, it's only their opinion and it can always change. Start everyday with a positive affirmation and focus on it during the day. Especially when that critical voice pops inside your head.
If you are doing one of these steps, then you are on the right track. If you aren't, that's alright. It's never too late to start. Just imagine what it will be like when you practice all ten of these steps.
Treat yourself the way you treat someone you love. Write yourself a love note, send yourself flowers and buy yourself some candy. You deserve it.
Lianne Avila is a Marriage and Family Therapist. She has been helping others for 14 years and absolutely loves her work. If you need help in the San Mateo area, please call Lianne at (650) 892-0357.