Love Yourself to Change the World

Valentine’s Day is considered a gesture of love to the significant other in our lives and can serve as a wonderful reminder of the importance of care and appreciation for those we love. On the other side of that coin, it can be a painful reminder of what’s missing in your life if you don’t have a romantic relationship to appreciate. Yet, a profound opportunity that’s often overlooked is the nurturing of an even more important kind of love, that is in my opinion, more vital, healing and transformative – Self Love. I have experienced and witnessed firsthand the power and the powerful impact loving yourself can have on our well-being, our physical health, our relationships and our ability to navigate life with confidence and resilience. Embracing self-love can be a challenging journey for many. It requires patience, forgiveness and a consistent commitment to going inward to develop a deep relationship and meaningful with yourself. The rewards it brings are endless.

Consider how many friends you would have if you talked to and treated them the way you currently do to yourself. If you constantly judged, criticized, belittled or ignored your friends needs, dreams, appearance, behaviors and choices how many friends would you have left? This question, poignant in its simplicity, reveals a truth that many of us struggle to face. We are often our own harshest critics and worst enemy when it comes to judgements and standards.

I invite you today and every day to make a conscious decision to prioritize self-love and self-care.

The concept of self-love may seem like an empty pursuit, often perceived by many as a vein, or even a narcissistic pursuit. Many influencers urge you to love yourself without providing much substance to their advice. There is actually lots of scientific evidence suggesting that self-love can benefit your mental & emotional health and overall satisfaction of life.

In our modern society we are bombarded with pressure to do more to achieve status, wealth, power and success. This superficial standard can sometimes make us feel inadequate and push us to focus on our failures, ignoring the areas where we’ve grown. This drive for perfection can cause us to ignore our basic needs, such as physical health, meaningful relationships, psychological wellbeing and personal creativity.

Self-love isn’t selfish, true self-love is about acknowledging and respecting your personal needs. It’s about making your health and well-being a priority and not sacrificing your needs for the expectations, wants or happiness of others.

As Jeffrey Borenstein, President of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, puts it: “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others.”

Self-positivity bias is the scientific term for self-love. It’s defined as the way people regard themselves as having more positive personality characteristics and exhibiting more positive behaviors than the average population.

Fostering this self-positivity bias has many benefits. Researchers, Eric Fields and Gina R. Kuperberg, from the Department of Psychology at Tufts University, explain that: “Positively biased self-views are argued to be a key component of healthy psychological functioning, influencing self-esteem, motivation, and determination. Indeed, a lack of a self-positivity bias (or even a self-negativity bias) may contribute to mood and anxiety disorder.”

Some of the evidence-based benefits of self-positivity bias or self-love include:

  • Improved mental health
  • Greater self-appreciation
  • Higher self-respect
  • More motivation
  • Stronger resolve
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Less anxiety
  • Better sleep

The great news is that can learn how to practice self-love.

7 Tips for Loving Yourself

1. Practice Compassion – Start giving yourself the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a dear friend or loved one. Use gentle self-talk, especially in times of difficulty or self-doubt. Mirror work is a wonderful tool for cultivating more compassion and self-love.

2. Be Forgiving – We all have choices, behaviors and mistakes we aren’t proud of, things we’ve said, done or didn’t do that we wish we could take back, but beating yourself up for past mistakes only serves to continue the pattern of betrayal and sabotage we inflict upon ourselves. Forgiveness to ourselves allows us to release the burden of past regrets and move forward with a lighter heart and desire to do better. The practice of Ho’Oponopono is an excellent tool for developing self-forgiveness.

3. Make Time for Self-Care – Even if it’s just a few minutes of meditation, a walk or journaling, do something that nourishes and nurtures your body, mind and soul. Making this a daily practice can significantly improve your physical and mental health.

4. Foster Self-Gratitude – Take a few minutes each day to appreciate something about yourself, your strengths, your talents, your efforts, your achievements, no matter how small, can cultivate a sense of appreciation for yourself and improve your ability to make healthy changes in all areas of your life.
5. Safeguard Your Energy – Become aware and mindful of the people and environments you subject yourself to and make sure they encourage, support and uplift you. Developing boundaries around your time and attention help protect your well-being and promote positive energy in all areas of your life.

6. Develop a Sense of Joy in Simple Pleasures – You can find happiness in everyday moments when you make a habit of being present in your now instead of obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. The warmth of the sun on a brisk day, the birds singing in the morning sunrise, the laughter of a child or a friend. The ability to do simple things with intention and attention can create satisfaction and increase more joy in your life.

7. Listen to and Read Inspiring Things – Find music, movies, books, quotes, posts and stories that inspire, move or elevate your emotions. The more time you spend in a positive mood and frame of mind the more you open your life up to a consistent flow of better experiences.

Self-love can improve mental health, enhance self-esteem, increase motivation, and provide many more evidence-based benefits. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you choose to make self-love a part of your daily life. Remember the power of objective self-reflection. Disappointment and setbacks are not the end of the world, but they are opportunities for refining our behaviors, patterns, beliefs and responses to allow for positive change, growth and creativity to guide us toward our best life experiences and expression.

4 Benefits of Loving Yourself

  1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety – Loving yourself will reduce the impact that stress and anxiety has on the mind and body. Self-love can free you from feeling trapped in unhealthy situations. It helps you develop more resilience in the face of challenges and removes the fear rejection. The chronic trivial problems and minor setbacks that distress your mental and physical health will gradually decrease if you cultivate self-love and recognize your worth.
  2. Promotes Personal Growth – As you cultivate self-love it stimulates mental, emotional and spiritual growth. Start understanding who you truly are, what supports you and what harms body, mind and soul. Begin choosing to end toxic relationships that damage your mental and physical being. You recognize red flags and learn to replace self-sabotage and harmful experiences with self-care and nurturing environments.
  3. Boosts Confidence and Motivation – As your self-love and self-care increases you find it easier and more enjoyable to try new things, make different choices, develop healthier relationships and even create more meaningful and rewarding projects and career paths. Your dreams and goals may change or shift direction and you feel capable and empowered to pursue things that seemed impossible before.
  4. Healthier Lifestyle Decisions – The more you practice loving yourself, the more you will feel inspired to take better care of your body and mind. Consistent sleep cycles, regular exercise, limiting electronic use, choosing positive or enlightening things to read & watch and consuming healthy foods and beverages are all parts of a healthy lifestyle. You also find that enjoy your own company and spending time alone more as you get to know the unique beauty and brilliance that you hold.

6 Habits That Support Loving Yourself

Essentially, self-love is about managing our inner critic so we can develop a more objective view of what we perceive as our failures. We can choose to reframe them as setbacks or even learning opportunities and appreciate our efforts and personal growth in kind, loving, and respectful ways.

  1. Reframe negative self-talk. In her book, Dr. Kristin Neff asks: “What type of language do you use with yourself when you notice a flaw or make a mistake? Do you insult yourself or do you take a more kind and understanding tone? If you are highly self-critical, how does that make you feel inside?” Becoming aware of your internal self-talk is the most important step in learning how to develop self-love.
  2. Create positive personal rituals. The biggest difference between habits and rituals is how conscious and intentional you are. Rituals are meaningful practices with a profound sense of purpose. Self-care rituals give you permission to take time out of your busy day for your health and wellbeing. It’s giving love and appreciation to your mind, body and soul.
  3. Set healthy boundaries. It can be tough to love yourself when the people around you don’t seem to respect your time or acknowledge your value. Getting out of habit of saying yes to every event, project or favor asked of you can be both exhilarating and freeing. Protecting your time and energy by learning to say no is a powerful way to practice self-love.
  4. Be gentle with yourself. Self-compassion is akin to being compassionate towards others. It involves noticing when you are suffering and offering yourself understanding and kindness. As Dr. Kristin Neff puts it: “​​You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.”
  5. Allow space for self-reflection. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Instead of blaming yourself, take a neutral assessment so you can learn from mistakes and make them opportunities for personal growth. Self-reflection can take the form of a daily mental review, a journaling practice, a weekly counseling session, or a regular meeting with a trusted friend to reflect on your recent experiences and challenges.

Just a few changes can help develop more self-love. Changes can be as simple as recognizing our hard work and efforts without being harsh or critical, implementing healthy practices, and establishing healthy boundaries.

5 Ways to Practice Loving Yourself

1. Resist Comparing Yourself –It’s human nature to compare ourselves with other people, but it’s a rabbit hole of judgement that often leads to self-reproach. You are a unique individual you’re your own perspectives, dreams, needs and values. Your life path and experiences have totally different influences, distinctions and preferences than anyone else’s, so there really is no purpose and no benefit in comparing your life and your journey to another’s’. The most effective use of your time, attention and intention should be in self-improvement for personal growth and refinement of dreams, goals and values. If you have a competitive nature, try competing with yourself, not from a place of reproach, but from an impartial constructive desire to be the best version of yourself that you can conceive of in each moment.

2. Assess and Address Your Fears – Contemplate your fears objectively and decide if they are actual or imagined concerns. Write down all of the fears you can think of and determine if they are things that, have happened and could happen again, are likely to happen, or if they are simply things that your mind has created scenarios around in an effort to protect you from potential threats or setbacks. In the already happened column, write down your original reaction(s) and then with your current knowledge create new strategies to handle the same situation in a more conscious, practical and compassionate way. For fears that you think could happen, prepare a plan to deal with them. It could be something as simple as setting aside 10% of your paycheck each week in a savings account or creating a fire exit plan and packing a bag of essentials. For imagined or potential threats, check in and sense if you really believe these scenarios will happen or if it’s simply your mind movies stuck in and endless loop of doom and gloom. If you still feel concerned about potential scenarios write down ideas on how to handle them and then consider what would happen in worst case scenarios. Is there someone you could turn to? Could you use your knowledge, skills and abilities to change your circumstances or help you resolve the problems? Looking at problems from a place of love and compassion can heal or transform every possible problem that could occur. Anxiety and stress can be avoided or replaced with confidence and calm when you focus on problems from a place of love, understanding, compassion and doing from a place of “I can” instead of “I must”.

3. Become Your Best Friend – Treat yourself the way you would like others to treat you. Be kind, considerate and appreciative when you talk to yourself. Recognize how much you have accomplished in your life, what you have been through and how you have changed and adapted to better meet the challenges in your current life. Be gentle with yourself when you make mistakes, they are the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t create expectations that no one can meet, including yourself. Life is a series of choices, responses, experiences and opportunities to redefine and refine what you want, need, and who you want to be in each moment. It’s not a race or a competition. It’s a process of self-discovery and reconnection to the true you that’s been buried under decades of trauma, pain, grief, anger, resentment, disappointment and fear. You have the heart and soul of pure love and the only way to rediscover what makes you sing and brings you joy is to become the parent, sibling, friend and partner you’ve been dreaming of. When you become the one you’ve been waiting for you’ll never feel lonely, incomplete, broken or less than again.

4. Speak From Your Heart – Don’t keep your emotions bottled up. Whenever something is bothering you, talk it out with calm consideration. Don’t wait until you are fuming mad and ready to explode. Share your perspectives and thoughts with your friends and family when something doesn’t sit right with you and make sure that your comprehension of the situation matches their intentions Quite often what we hear and perceive about a disagreement or conversation doesn’t match what was actually meant or said, especially for people who feel less than or criticized. Suppressing your feelings will only make you feel more and more angry and upset and can lead to over reactions in other areas of life. Don’t let yourself create misunderstandings or imagine negative intentions for the sake of avoiding conflict. Your feelings are always valid and deserve to be voiced and considered.

5. Mirror WorkThis is the practice of standing in front of a mirror every day for at least 10 minutes and showering yourself with words of love, forgiveness, compassion, and encouragement. For maximum results do this while softy focusing your gaze on your left eye. Your left eye is the link to your right brain. The right side of your brain is the creative center. It is the place that new ideas, new beliefs, new stories, and new dreams are imagined and accepted as truth. This may seem challenging to many. How can you look yourself in the eye and say all the things you’ve longed to hear from others when you cannot even stand to look at yourself in the mirror for more than a few seconds? If you absolutely cannot tell yourself how much you love and appreciate yourself without it sounding fake and hallow, start off forgiving yourself for all of your perceived weaknesses, mistakes, and failures. If 10 minutes feels like an eternity, start off with 1 minute, but make sure you do it consistently every day and extend the time out at least a minute longer each week. For those of you that can look yourselves in the eye and say “I love you and I appreciate you,” even if you don’t really mean it, fake it until you make it reality.

As we find our way in life, the relationship we develop with ourselves – positive or negative – builds the foundation for all other relationships. Today and every day, make a commitment to honor, cherish and respect yourself by developing a deep loving relationship with the only person who will be with you throughout your whole life. When we can treat ourselves with loving kindness, we not only improve our own lives, but we enrich the lives of everyone we know and create ripples of love and healing that extend beyond our wildest imaginings. ????❤????????

Kathy Best is a writer, intuitive living guide, wellness coach, Reiki Master and energy tuning practitioner who has over 20 years of knowledge, training, experience and study in nutrition, health and wellness, healing, personal development, spiritual development and living a fulfilled, abundant, joy-filled life with grace, resilience, ease and divine guidance. She communicates with angels, guides and uses her intuition to support her clients in making the big changes that create transformation in all areas of life.

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