Learning to love yourself starts today with these five easy steps from the Self-Love guru!
There is nothing shameful about loving yourself. The shame is in NOT loving the unique and brilliant individual that you are.
In our society, there seems to be a negative connotation surrounding the concept of self-love, to the extent that the term "he/she loves herself" is even utilized as a derogatory remark to describe a person who is over-confident, self-conceited and obnoxious.
However, contrary to the common misconception that loving yourself equates to being self-absorbed and lacking empathy or consideration for others, the true meaning of self-love is about caring, respecting and knowing yourself, taking responsibility for your life, and ultimately, your happiness.
German-born U.S. social philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in his 1956 book The Art of Loving, wrote that loving yourself has nothing to do with being arrogant or narcissistic, and everything to do with self-care, self-awareness, self-respect and responsibility.
Fromm believed that in order to truly be able to love another person, first, you must be able to love yourself in this way.
Working as a counselor, I have come across many people from all walks of life (both clients and counselors) who were afraid to acknowledge any strengths within their character, feared verbalizing anything positive about themselves and couldn't even write a single pleasant thing about themselves on a piece of paper.
I've also had many people share with me that they constantly avoid looking at themselves in the mirror, as they just do not like seeing their own image.
Self-love is about respecting and appreciating every single part of who you are, and being proud to be you. It is about valuing yourself for the positive qualities you have and the wonderful things you do, and accepting yourself for your flaws and mistakes.
I have conducted countless exercises with clients where I assign them the task of making a written inventory of reasons why they love themselves for who they are.
I consistently observe the genuine struggle and challenge each client initially demonstrates before me, in having to force themselves to consider things they had never before taken the time to acknowledge: things they love about themselves.
Yet as each client begins to allow themselves to recognize and voice their positive attributes aloud after writing it down on the paper in front of them, I am forever privileged to witness the miraculous and immediate change in their facial expressions and general disposition.
Their eyes begin to emanate a brightness that had not been there before, they smile with a radiant glow of self-satisfaction, and their tone of voice becomes confident and energized.
This beautiful transformation which I am privy to observing each client experience as a result of such a seemingly simple activity, tells me how powerful this exercise can be as a tool for developing an appreciation for who you are and learning to love yourself.
I would like you to take the time to try this, and the other exercises below, and see how it makes you feel.
Here are some practical exercises:
1. Making A List, Checking It Twice
Make a list of all of the positive qualities you appreciate and love about who you are (at least 20 things!) and then share it back to yourself aloud, as many times as you want. Each point on your list should begin with "I love..."
If you get stuck, try starting your list by writing: "I love that I am a ..." or "I love the way I..." or "I love my..."
Then place the list somewhere you can see it all of the time, as a constant reminder to yourself. (Maybe in your bedroom, at your desk or on your phone). Read that list back to yourself every single day.
2. Inner Reflection
Identify any negative core beliefs you have about loving yourself and reflect upon how these beliefs have shaped your life. What memories come up for you when you think of the idea of loving yourself?
What are you afraid will happen if you do start practicing self-love? Pinpoint any underlying fears and challenge them.
3. Make The Vow
Make a vow to yourself today that from now on you will treat yourself with the same love, attention, affection, understanding, compassion and forgiveness that you so readily give to others.
4. Daily Routine
Start a daily routine of looking at yourself in the mirror through a lens of unconditional love, appreciation, admiration and respect. Gently touch your face in the mirror while smiling at your reflection and tell yourself out loud how much you love you.
Actually verbalize the words, "I love you" as you lovingly connect with the soul behind the image of you in the mirror. Look upon yourself with complete adoration, acceptance and nonjudgemental.
5. Self-Care Is Key
Be as loving, gentle and tender with your own self, as you are with your children or your beloved.
Remember, you are your own soul mate, so love and treat yourself in the same way you would your life partner.
This article was originally published at Chapter 1 of my eBook Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women. Reprinted with permission from the author.