“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens… Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.” ~Louise L. Hay
It is Valentine’s week and love is in the air. I am so grateful for the love of family and friends and I know I am blessed. However, the last year I have been focusing on self-compassion and loving myself. It seems for most of us, that it is much easier to do things for others than to take care of ourselves. I am really good at beating myself up when I make a mistake and telling myself that I am stupid, clumsy, careless, etc. But, I have realized that if a friend made the same mistake I just made that I would never say the things to them that I say to myself. So, I am working on being kinder and gentler to myself. I will share some tools that have been working for me and you can see if they resonate with you.
Many experts including Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, and Shauna Shapiro tell us it is important to tell ourselves that we love ourselves. I know this sounds strange. But, until I actually started doing it, I had not realized that I had ever told myself that I loved myself. Louise Hay tells us that you should say “I love you” out loud while looking into our eyes in a mirror. Shauna shares that when she wakes up each day, she says to herself, “Good Morning Shauna, I love you.” She told us that at first she could only start with “Good Morning Shauna” it didn’t feel comfortable to say I love you. But, after doing the practice for a while, she could say the entire phrase. I must admit that it sounded weird to me, but every morning when I wake up I say to myself “Good Morning Peggy, I love you. It brings a smile to my face and makes me feel warm and at peace. It gets me to treat myself much nicer throughout the day. When I do make a mistake, I find that I am much kinder to myself and the words in my mind are much softer. So try it and start simple with whatever feels good and go at your own pace. See if you are nicer to yourself.
The other key component that I do to love myself, is to ask the question, “If I loved myself, what would I do?” I learned this idea from the book Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart by Kamal Ravikant. So, when I am asked to do something, instead of responding out of guilt or a fear that people won’t like me if I say no, I ask myself, “If I loved myself, what would I do?” It changes how I make decisions and I am more authentic. If I do agree to do something, then I am more committed because I know I am doing it from a place of love. I also know that is important to set boundaries and take care of myself, so when I say No, I am at peace. I know that I have no control of what others think and if they are upset, that is their choice. I make the best decision at the time that I can; I do consider how my decision will impact others and myself, but I make all conscious choices from a place of love.
As the flight attendants advise you on the airplane, “put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then place it on others” you should follow that advice with love. When you give yourself love first, you will have more to share with others.
Do you love yourself? Do you give more compassion to others or yourself?
What can you do to love yourself more?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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