Why is it so hard to love ourselves like we love others? Why are we so hard on ourselves? So unforgiving? Regardless of why, it is time. Time to acknowledge how fabulous and awesome you are. And if that is a little too much for you to handle, then it is time to show yourself a little kindness each day. It is time to love thyself.
I am not talking about vanity at the expense of others. Sitting, gazing longingly into your own eyes in the reflection of a mirror. Any mirror. Anywhere. Such as the reflection of yourself in a shop window. The side mirror of a car. A puddle on the ground. A wine glass. I think you get the idea.
No. It is not narcissism I am promoting. I am talking about honest and wholesome love, respect, forgiveness and kindness for and to yourself. Equal to what you give to those around you. In your inner circle. Your family. Your friends. Or strangers (yes, sometimes we treat strangers better than we treat ourselves).
You are as deserving of this love as they are. And yet, for many of us, it can be hard to direct these positive feelings of compassion and loving kindness inwards. A friend can mess up. Do something ridiculous. And we, forgive. Find reason. Explain away the behaviour. Make excuses. Or just be there to help them pick up the pieces.
And yet. When we ourselves make a mistake. We can be scathing. Self flagellating. Unforgivingly brutal on ourselves.
Where does this self loathing come from?
It can come from our childhood. How we were treated or directed to treat others. How we observed others interacting. It can come from a trauma. Generational habits, which have become our own. Or perhaps it is something we just picked up on the way somehow, because we thought it was polite to put others before ourselves.
And how does it serve us?
Doesn’t serve you. Or humanity in general.
A group of self respecting humans who are compassionate towards their own being, generate an abundance of love and kindness for themselves, for others around them and the beautiful planet we live on. Love begets love.
So, it is time. Time to love you. And here are five simple ways how to do it.
- Treat yourself
Do something nice for yourself on a regular basis. Make yourself a priority. Buy yourself something you want or adore, don’t wait for someone else to buy it for you, or for someone to give you permission to buy it. Spend time with people you love. With the people who make you feel good. Or spoil yourself. Get a massage. Or get your nails done. Whatever makes you feel good. Self love is not selfish, it is self care.
Take time to make your soul happy. Indulge a little, in you. Actually, indulge a lot in you. Book time to do something you enjoy. Yoga. Meditation. Dinner and a film with friends. Or taking up a crazy fun hobby like…roller derby.
- Be grateful
Remind yourself of all the things about you, that you can be grateful for. Write these things down in a journal. Meditate on them. Write yourself a love letter. Or simply thank yourself for being you. If you are in a space where you are finding it hard to be grateful for you, start small. Think of one thing. A memory. A talent. A feature. Or simply thank your toes for being there, because without them you might fall over.
- Spend time by yourself
Make time in your day, or week to spend some time by yourself. This can be as simple as sitting alone having a cup of tea in your back yard, on your balcony or in your bedroom. If you have small children and you are in high demand, cherish the time in the toilet. Sit there a little longer than needed, to give yourself a little bit extra time for you.
Get to know yourself. Listen to yourself. Not just your thoughts, but your body. Your breathing. Your sensations. Your feelings. Meditation is a great way to get to know yourself a little better. Perhaps get up a little earlier in the morning than normal, to sit somewhere quite with your eyes closed and go inwards a little. To see what turns up.
- Be kind to yourself
Be mindful of your self talk. Notice how you are reacting to your actions. Be conscious and aware of how forgiving or unforgiving you are towards yourself. When you are being hard on yourself ask how it serves you. This is my favourite question to ask. It works every time (bless Bréne Brown). Be honest about why you are being self critical. Sometimes the answer isn’t pretty. Remember to be patient with yourself. Avoid comparing yourself to others.
How you treat yourself, is how you teach others to treat you. When you catch yourself being harsh towards yourself. Stop. Pause. Breathe. Then deliberately say out loud the opposite of what you were thinking. Repeat the positive words. Let them settle inside you. See how it feels. Remember, what follows ‘I am’ follows you. Choose your words about yourself carefully. Speak lovingly about who you are and what you do.
- Get into your body
Dance. Sing. Laugh. Run. Ride a bike. Walk in nature. Be with your body, in your body through one of these activities or something similar. Love and enjoy the body you are in. Dance while the potatoes are boiling. Sing loudly in the shower or at the traffic lights in your car. Sit in front of a mirror and laugh with yourself. Exercise in whatever way makes you feel good: yoga, running, bike riding, walking, swimming or sex. Get out in nature. Feel the sun on your eyelids. Take your shoes off. Feel the sun on your toes and the grass beneath them.
Loving yourself is your super power. Life is so much more enjoyable when you show yourself some kindness. Next time you are nice to someone, a dear one or a stranger, make a promise to afford yourself the same feeling and courtesy. Because you are worth it.