“The greatest love of all”, sang George Benson, “is learning to love yourself.” But how? What’s stopping us? And where does it come from?
Many of us think of the love we experience as outside of ourselves, but it really comes from within. You are the source of your love, the love that you feel, the love that makes you happy. As Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Mastery of Love says:
“The whole world can love you, but that love will not make you happy.
What will make you happy is the love coming out of you.”
To truly love yourself is to accept yourself. Accepting yourself means accepting not only the you that is successful, popular, wealthy and happy but also the you that is afraid, angry, impatient, insecure, vulnerable and anything else you might have labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘not good enough’. It means accepting yourself whatever others may think or say about you, and whatever they do.
Self-love requires patience, tolerance, kindness and compassion. It requires trust, honesty, gratitude and forgiveness. It’s being kind to yourself, being grateful for who you are, and appreciating yourself. When you appreciate yourself, you increase your value. What is appreciated increases, like wealth or money.
When you love yourself, you are true to yourself. You are authentic. You also put your own needs first. Remember the oxygen-mask principle: you place your own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs. This is not selfish. It’s self-centred. As Michael Brown, author of Alchemy of the Heart says, “the most loving person in the world is the person who is self-centred.”
Self-love means releasing the need or urge to control or manage everything around you, as if you were in charge of the whole Universe.
It means monitoring your thoughts, your self-talk, eliminating all ‘self-flagellation’, as I call it - that is beating yourself up mentally, telling yourself that you ‘should’ be this or you ‘should’ be that, or you ‘should’ have done this or you ‘should’ have done that. Stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself. How does that ‘should’ make you feel? If it doesn’t make you feel good, why say it??
Stop judging yourself. As Mother Teresa said: “if you judge others, you can’t love them”. That goes for you too! If you judge yourself, you can’t love yourself!
One of my coaching clients was concerned about other people judging her. When she stopped judging herself, she noticed that everyone - her friends, family and colleagues - appeared to stop judging her too! Better yet, she stopped thinking that they judged her.
Stop comparing. Comparing yourself with others is a dead-end street, and a needless competition you can never win. Even if you compare yourself favourably to most people in the world, eventually there will be one, at least one, whom you will judge as ‘better’ than you in some way. How does that feel? Again, if it doesn’t feel good, why do it?
A few weeks ago, a good friend told me that she had been invited to produce her own television show. To present on national television is one of my dreams and so, when I heard, my mind started to compare myself with my friend. You know the sort of thing: I am better than her, I have more experience, I know more than she does, and on, and on, and on, not caring whether any of it was really true, and making myself feel bad in the process! Until I realised what I was doing and stopped. That was a wake-up call for me. I mean there could be a million reasons why she is on television and I’m not (yet!), and I realised that all those reasons are irrelevant if I love and accept myself exactly as I am, and refuse to compare myself to her or anyone else. I am not her and she is not me! Each of us is unique. As Catherine of Siena said:
“Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire”
The need for approval - which is really another form of self-judgment - is another barrier to self-love, but you can break through that too! Focus on who you are and what you want, not what others want from you. When you love yourself, you don’t need anyone’s approval. Your approval cup is full!
Just decide that you are going to love yourself. That’s it. It does not have to be complicated! You just set the intention - because you create your reality with your intentions.
Focus on accepting yourself as you are right now. Observe your thoughts. Whenever you put yourself or others down, even mildly, stop and change that thought. Change from judgmental to loving, from critical to compassionate, and from negative to positive.
Think about love! To think about love is to see through the eyes of love, to be inspired and uplifted by love.
Talk about love! To speak of love is to share love by your words which encourages others to do so. Include the word love in every conversation you have - it doesn’t matter how.
The aim is to maintain your focus on love. Just by focussing on love, you bring it more and more into your consciousness, bringing yourself ever closer to the love you want for yourself.
Read about love! To read about love is to stay focussed and attentive to love. Whenever you come across the word love online, or in a book or magazine, read it out aloud, highlight it, or underline it.
Love, like the music from August Rush, the film, is “all around us. All you have to do is look!”
Ask yourself every morning: “how can I love myself more today? It does not matter if you don’t get an answer. The point is to focus on loving yourself.
Compliment others. Complimenting is another form of expressing love and appreciation. I won’t go into an explanation here but when you compliment others, you also compliment yourself. Just trust this. Or, if you don’t believe it, try it anyway. Notice how good you feel when you compliment others!
Repeating affirmations can help. For example, you can affirm to yourself: “I love myself”, or “I love you!”. Give it energy when you say it. When you say it, make sure you really mean it!
If you do not feel entirely comfortable with the word ‘love’, use ‘like’ instead. Say “I like myself”. But remember to keep love in your thoughts and conversations. Put it in your texts and emails - you’ll find a way!
Affirmations do not work for everyone all of the time but one way to increase the odds is to say them out aloud in front of a mirror, looking yourself straight in the eye! Try doing this daily for 30 days for at least five minutes.
The value of self-love is infinite. You will each have your own unique experience. You could feel a greater sense of lightness and joy, a greater connection with others, a genuine well-being. Your confidence can soar, as can your courage. Your body could benefit. Genuine feelings of love and appreciation give the body a positive message that boosts and sustains health. Some say that all healing starts with love. For me, self-love is the most empowering feel-good I can have.
When you love yourself, you inspire and empower others to love themselves. Love inspires more love. It could be the greatest gift you ever give to the world...
Self-Love and Prosperity Coach