I don’t know how to love myself.
One of the greatest struggles in recovery and in life is the struggle to accept and love ourselves, with all our shortcomings and imperfections. This can be extremely tough, but why? Why can’t we just believe the centuries-old wisdom that tells us we are good enough just the way we are? Why can’t we simply open our hearts and let our own love in? Because more often than not we simply don’t believe that we are worthy and lovable. Instead, we believe the negative voice inside our head that whispers messages of self-doubt and focuses on our shortcomings, rather than on our strengths. So what does it mean to love ourselves?
Loving yourself isn’t a one time thing, but an endless, ongoing process that starts with realizing that it’s not about discovering self-love; it’s about tearing down the walls you’ve built against it.
Below are 6 ways to learn to love yourself more.
1. Focus on the things you like about yourself
We have a tendency to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves: Our flaws, insecurities, mistakes or fears. However, the more you focus on what you don’t like about yourself, the more those thoughts grow and turn into beliefs and start to shape your reality. Everything you perceive in the physical world has its origin in the invisible, inner world of your thoughts, beliefs and stories. When you choose to focus on yourself in a positive, compassionate way, you open yourself to seeing and realizing how amazing you already are. Take a couple minutes right now to think about the positive things about yourself, and to write down three things in your journal or on a sticky note.
2. Make time to do the things you enjoy
We are all passionate about something. Maybe you like to be creative, write stories or watch movies. Whatever it is that gets you really excited and makes you feel good, embrace it and carve out time for these things that set your soul on fire.
3. Let go of mistakes and embrace the past
Imagine walking through life with a heavy backpack full of rocks. Oftentimes, our past mistakes and struggles can weigh us down, thereby preventing us from living in the moment and making the changes necessary to create an authentic life. The truth is, we all have a past and we’ve all made mistakes – some big, some small. But by holding on to what happened yesterday, you miss out on the beauty of the present moment. Remember that everything that happened to you has shaped you into the unique person you are today, but doesn’t define your future. When you embrace the past you create space for all the beautiful things the word has to offer and you open your heart to healing, love, and happiness.
4. Appreciate your life
We have a tendency to focus on the things we want to change about ourselves, our relationships and our lives. But what if you stopped focusing on the things you want to change and, instead, focused on the things you are grateful for right now. Rhonda Byrne, producer and author of The Magic, encourages us to count our blessings and be grateful for what we have. Byrne writes:
“When you’re grateful for the things you have, no matter how small they may be, you will see those things instantly increase.”
When you train your mind to appreciate yourself and embrace all the things you’re grateful for in your life you will immediately start loving yourself more. What are the things you are grateful for in your life right now? Write out the first 5 things that come to your mind.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Humans are creatures of comfort. Our comfort zone is our neutral state where anxiety, worry and stress are minimal, and where we know what’s coming next. There’s nothing wrong with being in your comfort zone, unless you get too comfortable and start holding yourself back instead of exploring new things and letting yourself learn and grow.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but just..haven’t? Trying new things creates a sense of adventure, makes you feel more confident and can help you achieve things you never thought you could. Go out there and try something new. Learn a language, take salsa lessons, or visit cities you’ve never been before. Trying something new will also make it easier and more likely that you’ll do it again.
6. Take care of your body
When we don’t feel good about ourselves we usually neglect our bodies whispers for nutrition, rest and love. But when you ignore your body’s needs you are giving yourself the message that you aren’t worth loving. On the flip side, when you take care of your body and its needs you will start to feel loved and lovable. Your body is extremely smart and knows what it needs. Your challenge is to begin to listen to what your body is telling you.
Self-love is something we can choose, the same way we choose sadness, hate or anger. When you choose to embrace yourself, despite your flaws, quirks, and humanness, you also open the door to letting others love you too.
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