Learning to Love Yourself

November 10, 2016

"To love ones self is the beginning of a lifelong romance…- Oscar Wilde.

Unfortunately, the Victorian playwright/poet/novelist didnt entirely understand the idea of loving yourself,as his later history shows.

Loving yourself in a real way doesnt mean becoming a narcissist or an egomaniac. Modern psychology agrees that to fully love others, you must love yourself first.



Respecting Your Intuition And Feelings

Do you sometimes feel pressured to suppress your feelings about something important to you by people who claim to know better? Do you sometimes go ahead and do something you dont want to do because everyone else isand you want to fit in?

A person who loves themselves learns to respect their own feelings and, if needed, stand up for them. Suppression of deep feelings leads to resentment and, sometimes, even rage. It can be hard to speak up at first if youre not used to it. You will need to find a way of expressing yourself without necessarily being confrontational. For example, saying I understand that you speak to your child that way, but I dont feel comfortable with you speaking in that way to mine.As psychologists put it, Describe the behavior; don't label the person.

If youre prone to going along with the crowdwhen the crowd is doing things you dont like, that isnt loving yourself. Learn to respect your intuition telling you that this behavior is not right for you. It sometimes can mean having to end relationships with people you thought were friends. However, youll find other friends whose interests and lives are a better match for yours.



Learning To Say No

As the holiday season rolls around its so easy to get overwhelmed with requests (often kindly meant) to volunteer for six different Nutcrackers,to bake six dozen cookies, to give money or time to a million worthy groups. Women, in particular, frequently have a very hard time saying, Noto people and organizations who do need help.

Have you ever heard the expression: If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person?” Thats because busy people (especially women) are often super-organizers who manage to fit in threeor tenmore things. However, two results often come from this: The super-organizer begins to feel put-upon and resentful, and those who actually could  take on a little more, but have the reputation of being unreliable, get out of the tasks again.

Self-love involves learning to say Nonicely, but firmly. Strangely enough, the world seems to go on anyway when you do. If friends, family and employers are not used to you saying, No,there will be an adjustment period, but you can do it!



Getting Rid Of The “Shoulds

A dear friend of mine, whos a therapist, is fond of saying that we all need to get rid of at least a few of our I shoulds.By that, he doesnt mean we dont need self-discipline, as in I should go to the gym,” “I should eat a healthy breakfast,” “I should take care of my skin.Self-discipline within reason is also a form of self-love.

After a while, the shouldsbegin to mount up. You start to feel pre-programmed and that your life is not your own. Take a hard look at how many I shouldsyou bombard yourself with in a day. How many of them are truly vital?

Again, it may be hard at first not to feel guilty when you off-load a should.Practice turning off that nagging inner critic. Ultimately, youll feel more in control of your own life.



Caring For Yourself… What A Concept!

If you are a caregiver, whether to children, an aging parent, someone whos ill, or a disabled person, it is super-hard to think of taking time for yourself. Another famous saying goes: You cant give what you aint got.

Yet, some of the obvious answers to caring for yourself may not be the best ones.

Shopaholics know that a spending spree is almost always a temporary high, followed by buyers remorse (Why did I buy another pair of black shoes?). If you love shopping, try thinking in terms of small, affordable luxuriesthat are a treat but wont break the bank. How about an ultra-fragrant soap that provides a sensory escape every time you shower? Or a pair of fun socks with a Monet print on them that cheer you up whenever you put them on?

Many ways of caring for yourself dont require money at all, or very little.

  • Take the time to acknowledge your small successes and accomplishments, perhaps even in a journal.
  • Listen to your body and make changes its asking for. Go vegetarian three days a week. Do five minutes of yoga stretches each day before dressing for work. Sit at your desk, whether at home or work, and take five very deep breaths, followed by five even deeper exhales.
  • Think about how to let go of all those storiesabout yourself youve been carrying around for years: I was always the last person chosen.” “I never follow through on anything.” “My ideas arent worth sharing.These stories are holding you back. Let them go.
  • Create a sanctuaryin your house where you can be alone for a few minutes.
  • Take yourself to the cheap matinee of a movie no one wants to see but you. Laugh out loud or cryall by yourself.

The skys the limit on ways to be self-caring and, no, you do not need to feel one morsel of guilt.



Love For Self Means More Love For Others

When you stop and think about it, its totally logical that a person who isnt filled with guilt, resentment and/or anxiety has more space in their emotional pantheon to care about others.

The late singer/actress Eartha Kitt once said, Its all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self-love deficit.

If you can be loving and present with yourself, you can be loving and present with others. That is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

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