We all know intellectually that we should love ourselves. But putting this knowledge into practice is a whole different story. How do you drown out the voices telling you that you should be thinner, richer, funnier, more fashionable, more youthful, and so forth? How do you jump off the exhausting hamster wheel of harmful thoughts and emotions that drag you down? How do you start truly believing that yes, you are worthy of all the love you have to give…right this minute?
Kathleen McIntire offers the following tips and insights:
First, realize that you aren’t treating yourself with love. While not accepting, loving, and valuing yourself can manifest in many ways, here are some common culprits:
- Seeing yourself as a victim
- Blaming yourself for disappointing or undesirable circumstances
- Being judgmental and/or critical of yourself
- Feeling that the weight of the world is on your shoulders
- Consistently looking for someone (or something) to make you happy
Stop expecting perfection. It doesn’t exist. In order to love yourself, you have to accept the fact that you are going to make mistakes and that you’ll never achieve perfection. (And what if perfection is an illusion, anyway?) When you constantly expect every aspect of your life to be just-so, you inevitably end up judging yourself, blaming yourself, and resenting yourself.
Focus on the joys, successes, and blessings in your life. Consciously focus on your blessings, successes, and joys. Again, instead of dwelling on disappointments and failures, examine each situation to see what you have learned, then let it go and move on. McIntire recommends doing an Evening Review each night by thinking of the last thing that happened to you, then retracing your steps back through the day to when you woke up. You’ll see exactly how things came together with fresh eyes, and you might just begin to look at your life in a whole new appreciative way.
Be who you are—not who others say you are, who you wish you were, or who you want to be. Throughout our lives, from childhood on, others assign characteristics to us. They can be positive (Wow, you’re so smart!) or negative (You’re such a wallflower!). We tend to cling to the positive characteristics while trying to shed or hide the negative ones. And eventually, “you” becomes more of a mask than an authentic person. If you want to show yourself love and respect, it’s time to let go of old, outdated beliefs that don’t represent the truth of who you are.
Don’t allow others to narrate your story. As we go through life, lots of things “happen” to us. You may not always be able to choose which events and circumstances come into your life, but you can decide what meaning you attach to them, and whether or not your story is self-affirming.
Show yourself the love you’ve been seeking. You don’t have to wait to hear the words of love and affirmation you’ve been seeking from others. (If that’s your strategy, there’s no telling how long you’ll wait!) Right now, you can look into your own eyes in a mirror and say all the things you’d like to hear from another. Mean what you say. For example: All is well. I am deeply loved and I love deeply.
Engage in what you find meaningful. You have passions, strengths, talents, interests, and curiosities that are unique to you. And when you are in touch with those things, your life will light up and you will live from a place of happiness, fulfillment, and love. If you love to hike, hike. If you love to paint, paint. If you love to garden, garden. Don’t wait until “someday” to jump in and do the things you love with all your heart and soul. Today is yesterday’s “someday”—so why not seize it and make it a day you can rejoice in?
Allow yourself to really feel your feelings. We allow s-words—“should” and “supposed to”—to rule our lives. As a result, we ignore or push away authentic feelings and reactions. For example, you’re “supposed to” be calm and collected, so you may resist allowing emotions like sadness or anger to be present. That’s a mistake. It’s important to allow yourself to acknowledge and experience everything you feel.About the Author:
Kathleen McIntire is a transformational teacher, speaker, and healer who is dedicated to bringing forth truth, liberation, and awakening. She is the author and creator of Guiding Signs 101, a set of divination cards and guidebook using everyday road signs to tap into your intuition and own inner guidance.
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