Have you ever thought that you don’t need to like yourself to love yourself?
Self-love doesn’t mean you have to like who you are, how you’re acting, or what you’re doing in every single moment. Instead, self-love is the act of being present and attentive with yourself no matter what and being radically honest with how you’re feeling in every breath. You love yourself when you listen to yourself honestly, with no limitation and, when you give space to yourself and pay real attention to your internal and real needs and desires.
Loving yourself versus liking your self
Consider a healthy relationship between a loving mother and her child. If a child is scared and crying, the mother will hold and comfort her. While the mother doesn’t like when her child cries and would prefer that she be happy and smiling, she still loves her child and provides undivided attention and presence.
Observe the aspects of yourself that you don’t like or ashamed of, or wish to ignore. These grey areas of yourself are like that child crying out for comfort. Developing this kind of parental loving relationship with our “inner child” takes time and will have ups and downs like every other change we try to make happen.
The big five
Self-love is a lifelong practice and has no end nor a specific destination. Being inspired by Elizabeth DiAlto, I suggest focusing on five axes to build a healthy foundation towards a happier and better life. I suggest you take care of each principle separately. Don’t try to work on them simultaneously. Follow a five-week plan and challenge yourself to pick one suggestion to implement per week. Your Big Five will be strengthened at the end of the process, and your self-love will be enhanced.
- Be gentle with yourself. Practice being kind to yourself no matter what comes up.
- Write yourself a letter of forgiveness. Try writing it as if you are a mother forgiving her child for doing the best they could.
- Change your self-talk. Replace “I’m not doing enough, I don’t have enough, I’m not good enough” with “It is safe for me to be me. It is safe for me to be here. I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.”
- Practice setting healthy personal boundaries. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. (Note: If it’s not a yes! then it’s a no.)
- Reflect on your self-respect. Answer the following questions in a journal: “Where am I putting myself last?” and “What am I tolerating that I don’t want to be?”
- Prioritize you. Give yourself more time than you usually do for just you. Allocate your time in ways that you can prioritize acts of self-love.
- Implement the power of “the pause.” Notice things you don’t love about yourself with curiosity. Pause in those moments and ask, “What’s going on here?” “What is it I don’t love about myself
- Experiment with meditation. Turn your skill of observing others inward and watch your inner world by sitting still with your eyes closed.
- Practice deep breathing. Try the 6-3 breathing technique. (Breath in for six counts, hold for three counts, exhale for six counts, and pause for three counts; repeat).
- Explore who you are. Go beyond what other people have told you you’re supposed to be by answering the following questions in a journal: “Who am I?” and “What’s my truth?”
- Recognize that who you are at any moment can change. Give yourself more permission than usual to be someone different today than you were yesterday.
- Clarify your core values. Get to know yourself better by considering what your top five values are. (For example, being of service to loved ones, expressing yourself creatively, connecting with your community, being healthy, and having financial stability.).
- Allow others to have their own experience. Experiment with releasing the need to control the behaviours of those you interact with.
- Put yourself out there. Trust that you are safe to express yourself in a bolder way than usual, even if others don’t entirely approve.
- Listen to your physical body. Trust that your body is always sending essential signals. Try naming how you feel right now aloud.
Remember, you don’t have to like yourself to love yourself. Build a baseline of self-love by experimenting with as many of these ideas as you’d like. As you build your practice, treat yourself as you’d treat a child– with respect, honesty, and undivided attention.
The art of self-love is a lifelong practice, so be comfortable with yourself and take it one day at a time.
This article was originally written in Greek by Isabelle Razis and published in https://www.govastileto.gr/editors-blog/agapise-ton-eafto-sou—i-health-coach-izampel-razi-sou-apokalipti-tous-5-aksones/