Happy New Year and welcome to 2023. This is the time of the year, when many may be diligently trying to set goals and organize their thoughts in relation to all they would like to achieve at the end of this year. Many may be in a space of apprehension and self-doubt, while others may be confident that this is their year. Whatever your thoughts may be coming into this new year, I would like to suggest that we all take the time to truly appreciate and love ourselves this year. Let us be reminded of the importance of self-love and care even as we forge ahead trying to figure out, all of the different areas of life we would like to juggle.
Self-Love which speaks of regard for one’s own well-being and happiness has often been seen as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness. But it is important that each individual foster a true and meaningful appreciation for oneself. I would want each person reading this article, to think about how you treat yourself daily; think about it as if you were another person, in a relationship with you; then answer the following:
Are you good to yourself?
Is your mind kind to your body and soul?
As a personal testimony, in my practice as a psychologist and my own spiritual journey, I see that at times I would have beaten myself up with cruel self-talk; set myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations; deprived myself of things I deserved through self-sabotaging behaviors and even abuse my body through neglect of exercise or adequate nutrients…all on this journey of life. I am aware that am not alone with my testimony and many of you are also guilty of behaviors which wreak havoc on your mental and physical health, your relationships, and your careers. It is prudent that we choose a different path.
After many years of counseling individuals and couples, as well as doing my own inner work, I’ve come to believe that perhaps our greatest life lesson is learning how to fully accept and love ourselves.
For only when we are truly aligned with our own beautiful and unique spirit, can we completely and authentically give and receive real love. This is because when we love ourselves we know that we can give without becoming resentful, exhausted and depleted, and we can receive because we know we deserve it. Self-love is the prerequisite for complete immersion in the abundant flow of light and love in the world around us.
Take a look at Dr Khoshaba’s (2012) Seven-step prescription to self love:
1. Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want. They are mindful of whom they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
2. Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
3. Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.
4. Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
5. Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term “frenemies” that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of “friends” who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My suggestion to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life”. You will love and respect yourself more.
6. Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake; Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.
7. Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.
According to Dr. Khosaba, if you choose just one or two of these self-love actions to work on, you will begin to accept and love yourself more. Just imagine how much you’ll appreciate you when you exercise these seven-steps to self-love. It is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise all of the actions of self-love that I describe here, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way. The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relating. Even more, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.
Benefits of Self love:
1. We let go of blame, shame, and anger. We invite ownership, creation, and power into our lives.
2. We feel, hear, and believe in our power. It doesn’t matter what others think or say about us; what matters is how we feel about ourselves.
3. We feel at peace. We accept ourselves — including our strengths and weaknesses — unconditionally.
4. We become responsible for our lives. We recognize that we are the source of all happiness. We are the source of the power to change our futures, careers, relationships, passion, compassion, empathy and authenticity.
5. We let go of loneliness and embrace a deeper connection and sense of oneness with the world.
6. We allow ourselves to show up in the world and live our purpose.
7. The more we look at ourselves with love, the more we practice love and acceptance toward others. We let go of thoughts that negate our reality (the “should”s), and we become lovers of what is.
8. We allow ourselves to be human. We accept mistakes and failures, and we invite vulnerability into our lives.
9. We don’t need to prove ourselves to others, because we know that we’re enough.
10. We are no longer ruled by fear, because we know that love is the strongest power of all. When we choose love over fear, we become stress-free beings.
11. We let go of competition and comparing ourselves to others. Therefore, we’ll always be enough.
12. When we love ourselves, we give birth to creativity, inspiration and openness.
13. We accept reality instead of blaming and fighting it, because we know that love is in every corner.
14. We attract harmony, peace, spaciousness, and significance in our relationships.
15. We find courage to accept failure because we know that it is one step closer to growth, and our significance isn’t dependent on what we produce.
16. We let go of keeping ourselves small in this world and allow growth instead, just like the tree that grows to provide shade and food for an infinite number of people. The more we grow, the more we spread love and joy.
17. When we love ourselves, we become aware of our stressful thoughts and how we react when think them. We question their truthfulness, and we choose to turn them around and invite stillness instead into our lives.
18. We feel safe because we know that we will always be right here for ourselves.
19. We shine naturally without working for it or fighting to get it.
20. We move from scarcity to abundance in every area of life without the need to fight or push to get it.
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” Rupi Kaur