When you are born, you learn to love yourself in the mirror of mother. She loves you, you love her. The love reflects, one to the other. For a brief time, you and she are as one. In other words, the love that flows back and forth so effortlessly is indistinguishable from self-love, simply because (at first) you are indistinguishable from her. Within a few months, the separation of your self begins. Ideally, that safe, fulfilled place that is full of love for self (and the ability to love another) stays intact as you grow.
Throughout life, our relationships mirror one or more aspects of the relationship we have with ourselves. Depending on how the evolution of self-love unfolds (after those first formative weeks and months), we are either able to love ourselves, or we struggle with loving ourselves. Most of us fall somewhere on that continuum.
If all the above sounds like psycho-babble – sorry about that. But I want you to realize that self-love is normal – it occurs naturally as a healthy manifestation of self-awareness. Self-love is not selfish love. Far from it! It is vital to survival and crucial to living a fulfilled, joyful life.
Self-love radiates your authentic self, helps you feel fulfilled, and allows you to be optimistic and grounded. What else does it do? It aids you in attracting love into your life. The best chick or dude magnet there is— a healthy dose of authentic self-love.
So you say loving yourself is not so easy for you? Don’t feel bad. Huge numbers of people struggle with loving themselves the way they deserve. The kernel is there, but the baggage of life has piled on top of it so we have to dig a little to find it.
Set your intention to love yourself first. Doing so will help you uncover that kernel of self-love that is in you, maybe buried, but not gone. What does it mean to set your intention? It means aligning your whole self – actions, thoughts, and attitudes — with your own values in the now. So if your value is to love yourself – all of you needs to line up behind that.
♥ You will act according to self-love (in other words you won’t abuse yourself with crappy food or hang out with people who treat you badly).
♥ You will adjust your thinking so it aligns with self-love (thus you won’t say, “I’m a loser,” or “I can’t do anything right.”).
♥ You will undergo an attitude adjustment so you convey not self-deprecation, self-abnegation, or self-loathing, but self-LOVE with every cell of your being.
In order to break that down into more bite-sized pieces, let’s go step by step.
1. Honor yourself. Allan Lokos said, “You honor yourself by acting with dignity and composure.” That means that you:
- Live your truth. It is your choice to align your self with your actions. It also means not sacrificing your best interests for the sake of others. Any relationship that requires that is not a healthy one anyway.
- Embrace your authentic self. What do you have to fear? How can your genuine self not be good enough? Any version of you based on what someone else wants or needs is not authentic. Honoring yourself means shedding false versions of you.
- Acknowledge that your needs are legitimate. Why? Because they are!
2. Respect yourself:
- Know you are worthy. When you realize you are not dependent on anyone else for validation or sanction, you respect yourself.
- Set and keep clear emotional and physical boundaries. You would protect anyone you care about from being steam rolled, disrespected, or taken advantage of. So… that also goes for the most important person in your life: you.
- Take responsibility for your own happiness. Just as you can’t be responsible for making someone else happy, or creating their reality, they cannot do that for you. Only you can. Once we realize this basic truth, we are liberated!
3. Value yourself:
- Live according to your own values. This means that whatever you display to the world lines up with what is inside you. And not only that, you have no fear of the judgment of others. Why would you? You value yourself and don’t need anyone’s approval.
- Realize success is what you say it is. No one else has any meaningful criteria by which to judge you. What your neighbor, mother, brother-in-law, or boss counts as success has no bearing on you. What you feel inside is what matters.
- Appreciate all your life experiences. In other words, value all the opportunities life has given you (the glorious, the good, the bad, and the awful)–for learning, growing, feeling, and discovering your authentic self.
As the late great Lucille Ball (groundbreaking performer, TV maverick, business woman, feminist, and one tough cookie) once said: “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
Remember to tell yourself once in a while. “Self, you are loveable and I love you!” Set your intentions to live with integrity and follow the steps outlined above. By doing so you will proceed from a place of understanding and compassion, with an open heart and mind. As you move through your days, touch base with yourself. Are you staying true to your intentions to love yourself? To honor, respect, and value the most important person in your life… you?