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Loving yourself is essential

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I am guessing we have all heard the often quoted saying “We need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else.” This may sound wise and hold some merit, but the truth that must be realized is… if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to love aspects of ourselves…again and again; and we can learn to appreciate and love ourselves by the response of the persons around us.{{more}}

It is important that the people in our lives teach us how to love those things in ourselves that we feel insecure and most vulnerable about. When that happens, we gain freedom and relief and permission to love in a deeper way. When complemented further by positive self-talk, we experience a rich, joyous and contented view of life, making it so much easier for us to embrace the differences in persons around us.

What it really means to love ourselves?

Self-love means finding peace within ourselves – resting comfortably within the depths of our being.

Being gentle with ourselves:

It’s often easier to be kind and gentle toward others than toward ourselves. Judgmental voices from the past may have left us ashamed, which blocks us from allowing forgiveness in. Being gentle with ourselves means being kind and friendly toward the feelings that arise within us. It is very human to feel sad, hurt, and afraid sometimes. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to become mindful of these feelings and allow a friendly space for them.

Allowing our experience to be as it is:

When I invite patients to notice their feelings, they sometimes reply, “Why do you want to make me feel bad again? I explain that when we push feelings away, they often come roaring back. Or they get acted out in ways that are destructive to ourselves or others, such as by drinking alcohol or through other ways of numbing ourselves, or transferring our pain to others through raging or blaming. Loving ourselves means experiencing our feelings just as they are; and learning to address them in a manner that is positive.

We are a constant work in progress; to help you gain more perspective and have a foundation on which to begin your journey of self-love, here are a few tips:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. People achieve success and fail.

2. Exercise, because it is good for your soul and not solely for your outward experience. Appreciate your body and all the things it can do. Stop picking it apart – you will never achieve perfection.

3. Spend time alone. It’s okay if you want to stay home on a Friday night; meditate and reflect on the person you are.

4. Find something at which you excel.

5. Let go of the past. Forgive the people who hurt you so that YOU can move on. Carrying around anger only poisons you.

6. Call your friends and family more often; don’t just follow them on social media. Remember when we used to have to call or meet up with people to hear their voices? That experience is so much richer.

7. Resolve the issues you might have with your family. Tell them you love them. Show up to family events and don’t have something better to do.

8. Take vitamins, because you want to be the healthiest version of yourself.

9. Treat yourself to something you want, but don’t need. Whether it’s a fancy designer purse you’ve been eyeing for years, or a plane ticket to the destination of your dreams; remember how fine the line between saving and living is. Toe it.

10. Care about your appearance – not in a vain, superficial way. Care about how you look, so you can feel great when you leave the house.

11. Guard your heart, but be open. Don’t let people take advantage of you.

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

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