Love is hard. Love is not easy and requires putting another before yourself. Loving yourself can mean being kind to yourself or it can also mean protecting yourself from you. Here are five hacks I use every day to love myself.
One of the best ways to love yourself is to observe the thoughts of the mind or your inner critic. Do not engage them, hear them and let them pass through you. If you identify or engage them, it will inevitably bring feelings. Those feelings affect your body and can make you sick. Any time your body reacts to how you feel an inventory of your thinking is in order. I often will recognize that I had been replaying specific thought patterns that are based on time, pain-of-the-past or a fear-of-the-future. An easy way to identify this type of thinking is to be mindful of any thoughts that are not in the moment. When those thoughts or feelings come, observe them. I like to think of them as something outside myself, almost like another person. This is just the mind doing what minds do. It is easy to get caught in a dialog with them. Being the observer is showing love to yourself by keeping you safe from unneeded suffering.
Affirmations are auditory ways into programming how you think about yourself. Saying something out loud is important because it has a way to force you into believing it. If you have problems saying that you love yourself, try it right now. All too often our inner critic talks to us and tells us we are less than, that somebody doesn’t like us, that we messed up or some other negativity. We need to counteract all those negative thoughts with powerful vocal words. Vocalizing your words release energy and will empower you. Look into your eyes using a mirror. Do not look anywhere else, but look into your eyes. Looking into your own eyes will ensure you make a connection with yourself. Tell yourself that you love yourself, that God loves you and that you are awesome. When the inner critic or someone else negative shows up, you won’t give it as much weight because you have been telling yourself the contrary.
We are imperfect beings so why do we strive for perfection. Perfection is an impossible task and will often fall short. The best we can do is the best we can do. We need to learn to leave it at that. I had to learn this the hard way. Outside my addictions, I have been a driven individual, with a good career and sought perfection in my work and other endeavors. After my marriage failed, I could not do all the things that make it look like you have it all together. What was hard is that many of my failings in the past were due to my using. Even after having some time living a recovery based lifestyle, life just knocked me down. Most of this came about by doing the right things. Perhaps it is that I had a good deal of cleaning up to do. I couldn’t do it all. I missed bills, overdrafts charges, getting kids late to school, and my work suffered big time. I even went to jail because I didn’t pay a speeding ticket. Through the worst of it I didn’t use things like drugs and alcohol to change the way I felt. I just dealt with it. So this was really out of necessity, I got tired of beating myself up trying to be perfect. I embrace my imperfection, I expect it and recognize it. Then I leave it alone. Being accepting of yourself is a great way to love yourself.
Boundaries can be a complicated subject so I will try to keep it simple. There are two types of boundaries I want to address.
The first is setting boundaries that are in line with loving yourself by limiting pressure to doing too much. These boundaries are related to not observing our thinking. We start to believe that we need to have certain accomplishments or goals met. If we do not embrace our imperfection we can create a vicious cycle for ourselves by thinking, believing then imperfection strikes and the cycle continues until we crash.
The second is setting boundaries with external influences like work, kids or family. The demands the average life can be a lot to take. We need to be mindful of what is good for us and what is not. Sometimes we need to set boundaries with expectation from others.
Let’s close this out with a fun one. I know what you are thinking, stop it! Touch is a very important human need and the language of compassion. There are times when circumstances prevent you from receiving human touch as much or when you want it. I went from my parents house to being married for almost twenty years. It was not until I left my marriage that I had to learn to go without it. I cannot count the number of days and nights with gut wrenching pain that went throughout my body. I just wanted someone to hold me. I was alone with myself, and I never had to learn how to deal with this type pain.
I had to find a solution to my problem. I have suffered from TMJ or Bruxism for most of my life. I would wake up feeling like someone kicked my face in while it was in a vice. It got so bad that I had to learn how to coddle myself, like a little boy who hurt himself. I had to nurture my spirit because it was getting beat up by life, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.
There are two things I do to show myself that I love myself. I get coconut oil and put it on my face and gently start on the eyebrows and sweep down the sides of my face. I tell myself I love myself. I tell myself I am worth it. I tell myself I am awesome. I visual and draw energy from my hands to the face. When I get down and need extra love, I love myself by touching myself.