This month on Facebook we have been talking about LOVE. We've talked about loving our kids, our spouse, our friends and we finished the month talking about SELF-LOVE. Before the last day in February disappears into the night, I'd like to share a few thoughts on overcoming common barriers to loving ourselves.
I want to make a distinction between self-care and self love. We absolutely need self-care to practice self-love, but loving ourselves is so much more than just taking care of our physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. Self-love is deeply knowing ourselves-being at peace with our flaws, confident in our strengths, and content with the journey we've traveled to get here. It means that every time we look in the mirror we love the person we see.
Here are three areas to encourage you on your journey of Self-Love:
1. Be Kind To Yourself:
We can't truly say we love ourselves when the words we use to describe ourselves are harsh or unkind. Have you ever said things like: "How could I be so stupid!" or "Why did it take me so long to learn this?" "What's wrong with me-why can't I get it right?" Many of us grew up hearing negative messages about ourselves that we internalized. These internalized messages have become our inner stories called "limiting beliefs." These limiting beliefs stop us from fully knowing and embracing ourselves because they keep us focused on the negative.
The first step to changing the story is to notice when you use unkind words towards yourself- whether you're alone, in public, or in our own mind. The key is to pay attention to what you pay attention to. Because whatever you pay attention to grows. Instead of listening to the inner critic and focusing on the negative-decide to change the narrative. Create a pattern interrupt- when you catch yourself saying negative things or "hearing" negative things in your head- say an alternative positive statement instead. Putting energy and focus into saying positive things instead of negative ones will begin to shift how you see yourself which in turn will change how you feel about yourself and ultimately allow you to see all the good there is in you to love.
2. Know and Embrace Your Strengths:
What do you love about yourself? If I were to ask you to list your top 5 strengths or your top 5 weaknesses, which would come to mind first? In order to grow in our self-love, we must fully know ourselves. That means knowing our strengths, too! And just like it takes effort to change our negative thinking patterns, it will take effort to search for and discover our strengths instead of our weaknesses. If your curious about your strengths and have never taken a survey of any kind, I recommend VIA Character Strengths. They offer a free survey at www.viacharacter.org Once you discover your strengths, it's important to value, embrace, and use them. In every area of your life look for ways to lead with your strengths.
3. Enjoy Yourself:
Last but not least on the journey to greater self-love is taking the time to discover what makes you happy. What do you love to do? What energizes you? What excites you, encourages you, makes you laugh, or leaves you content? Do you know? To be honest, it wasn't until I was able to work on two previous steps that I was freed up in my mind and heart to look for ways to have fun. Try to think of yourself as your best friend. What would you do for your best friend that you could do for yourself?. Carve out time in your week to discover what you love and ENJOY YOURSELF. The more you do, the more in love with yourself you'll become. And when you can truly love yourself unconditionally, you will have the strength to handle anything that comes your way.
How will you start practicing greater Self-Love today? Will you be kinder to yourself, discover your strengths, or enjoy yourself more?
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