Learning how to love yourself is something that you would think would be easy and automatic for most of us yet it is something that many of us grapple with long into later life. We have learned how not to love ourselves when ever we feel not good enough. Whenever we feel unworthy or whenever we were told that what we were doing was shameful or wrong. Many of us learned that loving ourselves was selfish and inherently bad. Of course we learn these things from parents who probably never really loved themselves. They never learned always taught how to do it. Learning how to love yourself is a necessity in today’s modern world. You also cannot give away what you do not have yourself. So if you do not love yourself your relationships will suffer. The first step in learning how to love yourself is knowing if you’re doing it or not. You need to know and become conscious of whether you are loving to yourself or rather our self critical and Judge mental about how you think feel and act. We need to make the art of self love a daily practice. When we do this we can grow both emotionally and psychologically towards becoming more self actualised and self realised, self regulated and self developed people.
The defences we’ve learned while running from our own shame and feelings of unworthiness have been self-preserving, desperate attempts to regain our dignity. Learning how to love yourself is something that most of us will have to do later on in life. We cling to negativity like velcro and allow our best qualities to go unnoticed. Unfortunately, many of those behaviours we learned in our youth have not worked to regain that dignity. Instead, we’re frequently caught in self-abusive patterns with food, sex, alcohol or emotional binges. Like any other addiction, or personality disorder, we promise ourselves we won’t do it again. Then we do it again and slip into it all again. Then we feel remorse.
Then we punish ourselves more by continuing to do that which we’re ashamed of doing. We overeat, stay stuck, drink too much and forget about growth and change once more. Regaining our dignity is a long process in the stream of learning how to love yourself; not one that happens overnight, but one that will be our saving grace from the agony of unworthiness and self loathing.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Many of us have been brutal with ourselves. Perfectionism is yet another one of the Saboteur hooks that can snag us back into shame. Gentleness with ourselves is one of the first steps in healing. This may mean giving ourselves a wide berth when it comes to making mistakes. We may repeat the same behaviour over and over again, even though we don’t intend to. It’s important to remember that even when we seem to regress; it is only our unique way of going forward. Think of each act, both positive and negative, as a way our Higher Power has arranged for us to heal. As we start to develop self-forgiveness, we may have to do it over and over until we get it right. I had to think of myself as the four-year-old who had been emotionally wounded. I literally thought of her as my own child, imagining how I would treat her if she were in such pain. I imagined how I would support her when she was taking some very scary risks. I even imagined myself holding her when she was hurt or scared.
To this day she is real to me. Perhaps she will always be real. But the important thing is that she was the way I could begin to be gentle with myself. She was the beginning of self-forgiveness. When I didn’t do things perfectly, when I failed at my attempts to pull out of shame, I began to forgive myself and try again. This was a major shift in behaviour for me. Making mistakes had meant failure and rejection. In my family, if you made a mistake, you were shamed and there was no way out. I can’t tell you what a relief it is now to be able to make mistakes and accept myself anyway. Today I am much more productive, and I have fewer problems taking risks.
How to love yourself in practice.
There are concrete things to do to get out of shame and regain hope. We can choose to listen to new messages. Just reading this article on shame by Mark and his team, is a way of finding new and different messages to communicate to the self. New information and inspiration from an external source (not family or co-dependants) is important for deep intimate connection. Spiritual Awakening is a complicated and sometimes long process, and it doesn’t matter where you start – it’s just important to start somewhere. It is necessary to LIFE ITSELF TO DO THIS WORK!! So now you start to move into the present moment in your life. The only moment there is. You transcend from nowhere to now here. You break open instead of break down.
So keep the idea of how to love yourself as simple as possible. Let go of the self flagellation as you become aware of it. Learn to analyse yourself talk and get rid of harsh critical or judge mental thoughts that you have about yourself. Spend time with yourself and be kind to yourself. Let go of toxic people and don’t listen to your critics. Forgive yourself because after all you are only human and you are a human being that is in a lengthy learning process. So trust the process of life and learn how to let a little love go a long way from today onwards. Gassho!