In my last two blogs I focused on some general concepts about love and what makes it so powerful and important to all of us to receive and to give. In this blog I’m going to shift to invite us all to consider the importance of self-love, what it is and some of the potential roadblocks a person can experience that interferes with their abilities to deeply love themselves.
This would be another very good opportunity for you to pay close attention, notice any of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs, images and/or memories that occur as you read this. By noticing these things you can gain a deeper understanding of how this and any other concept is impacting you.
I first want to begin by reminding you that love comes in many shapes and sizes, in various degrees and is experienced uniquely by each person. Remember that love can be conditional versus unconditional. Unconditional love means love without limits. Embracing self-love that is without limits for yourself can be a very worthy goal and something you deserve. Psalm 139:14 states that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is a no-strings attached statement.
So what are some of the steps a person needs to take to become more self-loving? Best-selling author Louise Hay in her book The Power is Within You shares 10 ways to love yourself.
- “Probably the most important key is to stop criticizing yourself… There is a tremendous need to build self-worth and value in ourselves, because we feel not good enough, we find ways to keep ourselves miserable.”
- “We also must stop scaring ourselves.… Terrorizing ourselves with rightful thoughts and then making situations worse than they are. We take a small problem and make it into a big monster. It’s a terrible way to live, always expecting the worst out of life.”
- “… be kind and gentle and patient with yourself… Impatience is a resistance to learning. We want the answers without learning the lesson or doing the steps that are necessary.”
- “Learn to be kind to our minds… Don’t hate yourself for having negative thoughts…. Think of thoughts as building us up rather than beating us up.” She goes on to promote meditating daily and visualizing optimistic outcomes.
- Praise yourself. “Criticism breaks down the inner spirit, and praise builds that up. Acknowledge your Power, your Godself. We are all expressions of the Infinite Intelligence.”
- “Loving yourself means supporting yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. You really are being strong when you ask for help when you need it.”
- “Love your negatives. They are all part of your creation, just as we are all part of God’s creation. The Intelligence that created us doesn’t hate us because we make mistakes… This Intelligence knows that we are doing the best we can and loves all of its creation.”
- “Take care of your body. Think of it as this marvelous house in which you live for a while. You would love your house and take care of it, wouldn’t you? So, watch what you put into your body.”
- “Find out the cause of an issue that keeps you from loving yourself.… Listen to your inner voice, and start following through with what you hear.… Affirmations performed in front of a mirror are advantageous because you learn the truth of your existence.”
- “And finally, love yourself now—don’t wait until you get it right. Dissatisfaction with yourself is a habit pattern. If you can be satisfied with yourself now, if you can love and approve of yourself now, then when good comes into your life, you will be able to enjoy it.”
Consider the relationship between self-love and self-compassion. Kristin Neff wrote an excellent book called Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. She also has a website entitled Self-Compassion. She shares the following description of self-compassion: “Self-compassion is simply the process of turning compassion inward. We are kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing.”
Recently I attended a very powerful conference in Virginia Beach coordinated by my daughter, Sandra Coates, who through her organization, United + Tru, has a dream of supporting girls and women of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities to embrace who they are as perfect in God’s sight. She wants girls and women to know they are already beautiful and it is not necessary for everyone to create some unobtainable body shape. Two years ago she published her own book called None Like Her in which she shares her story of many struggles during childhood because she was very tall for her age and often teased by children and even adults who made her feel so much less than others. At this conference, there was first a fashion show with girls and women of all shapes, sizes, ages and color. The next day the conference held a room full of girls and women hearing passionate role models encourage them to accept themselves just the way they are. Talk about promoting self-love!
It is essential to appreciate self-love as something all of us deserve to experience. It is something we can nurture within ourselves as we learn to monitor the kinds of inner thoughts, feelings, sensations, messages and beliefs we experience internally and to block those that can destroy our abilities to be self-loving. Again this is where noticing your inner world of thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs, images and memories can be enlightening and provide you with what you need to make changes when any of these are self-destructive.
Invitation for Reflection
- What did you notice happening when you considered your thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs, images and/or memories about your personal experiences regarding your own self-love? How does what you noticed help you better understand yourself?
- When you consider the list shared by Louise Hay, which ones do you think you could embrace? Which ones might be challenging for you? Why?
- How self-compassionate do you think you are? To what extent do you give yourself unconditional love? What might help you become more self-compassionate and self-loving?