Learning How To: Love Yourself
Image Courtesy: xrcoaching
Learning to love yourself is a journey. Like a child learning to walk; starts off crawling, leaning on objects for support, and then walking alone. It will not happen overnight. However, as long as you tell yourself that you want to make that change in your life, just remember, where there is a will there is a way.
Mindfulness is when you start to recognize the internal and external part of yourself. Taping in to what you think, what you’re feeling, why you might be feeling that way and what you want. Trying to understand your actions and working on self improvement. According to Dr. Patricia Rockman:
“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges from intentionally training to regulate our attention and emotion and a willingness to encounter, at least temporarily, whatever is arising so we can come to fully know our direct experience. “
Mindfulness is a journey that can be done alone or by enrolling and attending mindful classes (sessions can be private or in a group). It may not be something discovered overnight. However, that being said , it can be something that can be practised throughout your day. Maybe taking 5 minutes of reflecting on your day before going to bed. Thinking how your day went, why it went that way, what you want to work on for the next day, what you enjoyed about your day , etc.
You are what you think. Learn to feed yourself with words that build you up not tear you down. Learn to be your biggest cheerleader. It’s wonderful to have people who are your support system and are there to constantly cheer you on. However, when you learn to cheer yourself on, the support just becomes a cherry on top of the cake. Positive words manifest into a positive mind.
3. Self Care
Before allowing yourself to take care of everyone around you, you have to ask yourself, “Am I taking care of myself?” At first, this might come off as a selfish behaviour. However, part of learning to love yourself is learning to be selfish in order to be selfless. You have to take care of your basic needs. For example, your friend has been complaining about a health issue for a couple of days. You keep suggesting to your friend to go to the doctor and that you can join them if they need support. Meanwhile , you have your own health issues that you’ve neglected for weeks because you’ve been too busy being there for others. You’ve been pushing off the visit to the doctor’s office for a while. Do you see the problem here? While you were being selfless, you neglected your own health and forgot to love yourself and serve your body the care it requires. Taking care of yourself could also mean, making sure you’re eating healthy, listening to music that might lift up your spirit, learning a new instrument that you’ve been meaning to learn for a while. Picking up a new sport or a hobby that can stimulate your mind (drawing, puzzles, etc.)
Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Eid, etc. typically have one thing in common. Yup, you guessed it. Gifts ! When was the last time you decided to gift yourself something? When was the last time you set a goal and accomplished it and rewarded yourself ? Practising the art of giving and being generous to others is admirable, of course. However, we need to remind ourselves, that sometimes we need to treat ourselves. Long day at work? Treat yourself to a day at the spa. Feeling overwhelmed and you need a change of atmosphere? Treat yourself to a vacation or staycation. Feeling out of shape? Treat yourself to a gym membership, or yoga membership to wind down. Always wanted to learn how to play the violin? Treat yourself to a violin class. Craving something sweet? Don’t wait on your lover to buy you chocolates….go out and treat yourself to a KitKat bar (or whatever chocolate or candy you fancy) ! Point is, whether it’s materialistic or not, it’s good to recognize and be conscious of your feelings and existence and treat yourself once in a while.
5. Boundaries & Protect Yourself
These two might seem like two different topics, but they actually go hand in hand. In order to love yourself, you need to learn not to spread yourself thin. You need to learn to listen to your body and mind. You might be an empath and when your friends or loved ones need you , you’re always the one to say yes and be there for them. Ask yourself, “Am I empathetic to my own needs and feelings?” Do you know when to put your foot on the breaks and tell others, no? Sometimes we don’t want to let others down, so we say yes to everything and everyone but ourselves. We forget to say, yes, I’m exhausted and it’s time I tell person x, no. Maybe you need to say no to work. Maybe you need to realize that you have to cut back on your work hours because you’re spreading yourself thin and you’re too exhausted. You see, it’s a vicious cycle. When you spread yourself thin, you get worn out and have no energy for yourself anymore. If you don’t have energy for yourself , how do you expect to even fully be there for others? If you have toxic people in your life, set the boundaries, protect your mind and soul and say no and cut them off, if that’s what’s needed in order to feel better. Lastly, learn to love and respect yourself first, if you can’t learn to do that, you can’t give that part of yourself to others.
Time heals all wounds. In most cases time does more than heal all wounds. We need time for solitude and learning to be comfortable in that given moment. Go out alone to a restaurant. Go out for a walk in the park, alone. Take the time to be alone with yourself – it might give you the ability to reflect and recharge. Take the time to do something you love. Maybe pick up a new hobby? If you work 9-5 and have kids, maybe before bed take a 30 minute hot bath to recharge. If you take the time to yourself to recharge and make sure you’re at peace and relaxed, then the energy will be contagious to those around you.
I am human, no one is “perfect”. What is perfection? Well that’s an entire deep topic on it’s own. But what you should know is that you can only try to be the best version of yourself and to love that version (including it’s flaws). Don’t be too hard on yourself, but also remind yourself that you’re human. Learn to forgive yourself and it’s okay to make mistakes, because that’s how we learn and grow. If someone points out a flaw, learning to listen and reflect can be rewarding. However, there is a fine line when it comes to feedback and losing your individuality. If you’re changing because you think they will love you more, that goes against everything we are learning here, right? The point is to make the changes necessary that will make you love yourself more. Sometimes we do not see ourself , therefore, an outside perspective can give us clarity at times in regards to what we need to work on. So long as they have your best interest in mind and their feedback comes from a loving and caring place, there is nothing wrong with improving ourselves to love ourselves more. And when we love ourselves more, we are effortlessly more loveable to others.
Last but not least, touch. Touching and tapping in to our conscious. Often times, when the term touch comes up, it is related to the physical aspect. It can be literally the physical body or touch (in the non literal sense, tapping into our conscious) . Part of touch, is learning to love our body (stretch marks, pimples and dark circles included). There are lots of external pressures on how we view our bodies, but as long as you try to love your body (Which could take time for some), you will learn to be more confident. Maybe join a yoga class, or pilates to be in touch with your body, it’s movement and it’s beauty. If you are waiting for others to love your body when you don’t love it yourself, you will never be fulfilled because you will always be looking for gratification and compliments. Who doesn’t like a compliment once in a while…but when you love your body “flaws” and all, you won’t be seeking validation from others.