A couple of days ago I was talking to some of my clients during a workshop and discussing possible ways to understand how to love ourselves better. Feel free to use them all or just some. They’ve an accumulative effect but can also be used one at a time. Enjoy loving yourself from now on.
Grab a sheet of paper and for once, make the effort of defining what you LIKE in yourself, rather than finding whatever it is that you believe needs changing/improving. Identify 3 things you like in each of the following fields:
Bodily – define 3 things you enjoy in your body, including your face: your hair, your walking style, your height, your posture… anything.
Psychological – define 3 traits in you that you like: generous, hard-working, sentimental… anything.
Abilities – define 3 abilities you have that you like: good handwriting, well organized, quick learner… anything.
Each morning after breakfast and each evening before going to bed, look at yourself in the mirror, look deeply into your eyes, and remind you of those 9 things you want in yourself. Praise them. Educating yourself for them. Do not forget that there are AT LEAST 9 things in you that you like. Celebrate those 9 things.
It might be hard, specially at the beginning, because we’re so used to doing just the opposite and looking for flaws, mistakes and so on. Give yourself a break and be honest; stop JUST looking for the bad in you and begin searching for, and praising, the GOOD.
Identify and Increase your model
First of all, ask yourself who your teacher was. Who taught you how to love yourself as a human being? From a friend? As soon as you identify who you heard it from, ask yourself if you really like the way that person loved him or herself. Is that the sort of love you want to give yourself? If it is, can you improve it? If it is not, can not you find a better role model to imitate? The role model does not have to be a person that you know but could also be a character in a book or movie. Yes, I know they may not be”real” but what they are portraying is the sort of love that you want to provide yourself. Focus on that and learn what they do to transmit that love. At the end of the day, you only want to know how to do it better.
If you are like many others, each time somebody bothers you, your mind immediately looks for some kind of fault in you to counteract the positive comment you may receive. For example, someone says something nice about your hair or clothes now; your mind instantly reminds you of the…”yes, but even if this looks OK today, it’s usually horrible,” or”yes, but look at my nose, even the best haircut can not hide that ugly thing on my face,” or something of the sort. Sounds familiar?
I challenge you to turn your”yes buts” the other way round. Every time you hear OR THINK something negative about yourself, I would like you to make the attempt to consciously say, think or repeat a”yes but” in a positive sense. Case in point: you think,”gosh, my hair looks awful today!” (which would usually make you feel bad for some more time after the thought happened). This time I want you to”yes and” it in a positive way…”yes, which means I need to test that new hat on,” or”yes, and that is why I will do it in a different style today” or whatever ends the thinking process on a positive note.
Our brains follow established paths. Let’s create some new ones for ourselves.
Worth your actions
If you began applying the first recommendation, then you should already be valuing 9 positive things in you. Now I want you to feel grateful also. Every day, before going to sleep, think of 3 things you did . Value your work or your own contribution. Celebrate having done those good deeds and congratulate yourself for them. Feel grateful for everything that led you to being able to do what you did. Feel grateful for the people who made it possible; feel grateful for your abilities, knowledge or skills; feel grateful for having been there when you needed to; feel grateful for having decided to do whatever it’s that you did… Feel grateful for being you. Gratitude is a really powerful feeling that makes our brains release dopamine, which reduces stress, improves our mood and our levels of energy and motivation.
Give yourself expect
Another little but effective tool to love oneself is giving ourselves the gift of hope. And I don’t mean sleeping. Before you go to sleep but once you’re already in bed, I would like you to daydream. The only rule is that the dreams are positive. If a negative thought attempts to enter your mind, make the conscious effort to replace it and go back to your happy reverie. Imagine the great things that will happen to you tomorrow or this week. Visualize the dreams. Imagine them in great detail and have the pleasure of an artist creating a wonderland. Let yourself enjoy the happy feeling; after all, it is only in your imagination. But… your brain does not know it! When we make the conscious attempt to envision and attempt to experience joyful feelings, our brain believes the”fantasy” and starts releasing chemical products which make us feel great: endorphines, oxytocin and such. Because of this, our bodies relax and not only can we actually sleep better, which is a significant gift in itself, but once again, our brain discovers new paths into happier feelings. Consider this time a gift to yourself. We are not daydreaming to make a new reality; this is not the power we are trying to use. The goal is to have a pleasant, hopeful time to let our bodies and minds unwind and make us feel good about life.
These five simple exercises will gradually allow you to love yourself better. By loving yourself better, you may start having better feelings about yourself and, because of this, about the world. You’ll soon begin feeling better in general. After all, we can’t change the world unless we change ourselves first.
Choose the type of life you need to call home. Choose to love yourself first and others will see the love in you.
Enjoy life, ALL of it,