“Love is the great miracle cure.
Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.”
-Louise L. Hay
Self love was an alien topic for me. It was only after I met Tim Hastings, a Self Love Coach, that I began to see the importance of it. Loving, caring and helping those in need and fixing things in others’ lives has always been my first priority. But, things weren’t going the way I wanted in my own life. Especially, the relationship with my ex-girlfriend was in chaos. I was unable to understand why I was attracting that kind of relationship.
When I was introduced with Tim in December 2014, along with the chaotic relationship with my ex-girlfriend, I was also going through some other rough and tough times. My physical health was degrading. Feelings of loneliness and a lack of meaning of my life were making me weaker and weaker. Those feelings were amplified when I witnessed the increasing degree of pain and suffering in my own family and my Bhutanese Refugee community, where people were committing suicide at a very high rate.
I’ve always seen myself as a social change maker and wanted to serve my community and create positive changes. But, it wasn’t happening to the same degree as I had anticipated.
Tim coached me continuously for 5 months where we talked every week for an hour about my challenges. He helped me to reflect back on my past, unhealthy relationship and learn from it. He taught me not to become so harsh on the imperfections of my life, but accept them as a necessary components of my life. He also guided me to focus on my strengths and to view those challenges as a stepping stone to my own growth. He gave me weekly assignments like a self-love meditation and journal writing in order to cultivate self-love.
One thing that I am very grateful for Tim is the guidance I’m now in a new relationship, the love of my life, which is full of passion, love, understanding, connection, contribution and growth. Not only that, since I began to practice self love, I have seen huge shift in my physical, mental and emotional health.
If you’re a person like me who cares so much about others’ pain and suffering and want to help them, but you yourself are in pain and suffering, then you might be in need of self love.
What is Self Love?
Do you treat yourself the way you want others to treat you? I hope you do. But, you will be surprised to know that consciously or unconsciously most of us don’t treat ourselves as kindly as we would expect others to treat us. At some point in everybody’s life, all of us have learned about the famous Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Our parents, society, schools, and religions always tried to mold us into a human being who would treat other human beings with kindness, love, and care.
There is nothing wrong with that. However, very few of them really focused on teaching us how to treat ourselves. According to Kristin Neff, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, treating ourselves with the same kindness and care we’d treat a friend with is called self-love (self-compassion). But, many people have a mis-conception that loving ourselves means being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Margo Anand believes the opposite. She believes that loving ourselves means welcoming ourselves as the most honored guest in our own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.
Today, a growing number of researchers are finding that if we’re able to treat ourselves with the same kindness that we use on others, then we’d live healthier and happier lives. Mandy Oaklander, in her article The Reason You Make Unhealthy Choices published in TIME magazine, writes that self love is associated to better health behaviors. According to the article, people who cultivate self love will also cultivate healthy eating habits, exercise more, get sound sleep, and worry less. Similarly, self love also has direct connection with mental health issues.
People with a high degree of self love were found to have less depression and anxiety(Stuart Bradford). Another benefit of self-love is that it also motivates us to achieve goals in our lives. There is a huge distinction between achieving goals with and without self love. Both try to take us to the same place but experience of how we reach it is completely different. Achieving without self love might not give us a greater sense of fulfillment. On the contrary, achieving with self love provides us a greater sense of fulfillment. Often, when people without self love fail to reach their goals, they tend to self-criticize or blame others, which are unhealthy behaviors. But, people with self love tend to react differently. They see failures as part of development and don’t try to value or devalue their lives in terms of successes and failures.
Some Tips on Cultivating Self-Love
1. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D advises to write two things on paper: things that you like about yourself (like your strengths, difficult situations you have overcome, lives you have touched, your accomplishments, etc) on one side and all of your weaknesses on the other side of the paper. Then read both the strengths and weaknesses aloud. Then she suggests, put your hands on your heart and repeat this phrase: “I am strong. I am weak. I am flawed. I am broken. I am vulnerable. I am human and despite these flaws, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being, who uses past mistakes as fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the person I want to be.”
2. Write Letter to Yourself: Whenever you encounter challenges from outside or inside, make a habit to write letter to yourself. This exercise helps you to release the negative emotions and reflect on the problems and find the solutions to it.
3. Take Time for yourself: It is always good to take time off from your regular schedule and try new, exciting and healthy activities like hiking, meditation, dance, yoga, singing, family time, drawing, traveling, etc.
4. Practice Mindfulness: Being mindful of your body, thoughts, emotions, and your surroundings can help you to appreciate the gifts of your life. Practice focusing on your breath and being aware of your thoughts, body, and mind without any judgements. Practicing a “nonjudgmental attitude” can open the flow of life-force energy in our energy system which helps us to live a fulfilling life.
Some Helpful Quotes on Self-Love:
1. “When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant jobs, my own beliefs and habits-anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” -Kim McMillen
2. “It’s surprising how many people go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings towards other people are largely determined by their feelings towards themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others.” -Sidney J. Harris
3. “If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you’ll give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” -Barbara De Angelis
4. “Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” -Lao-Tzu
5. “You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” -Louise L. Hay
6. “Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself-no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are-completely; the good and the bad-and make changes as you see fit-not because you think someone else wants you to be different.” -Stacey Charter
7. “A healthy self love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.”-Andrew Matthews
8. “Self-care is never a selfish act-it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” -Parker Palmer
9. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” -Lucille Ball
10. “The biggest struggle in life is the struggle to know, embrace, and accept ourselves, with all of our faults and imperfections.”-Melanie Greenberg Ph.D
11. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
12. “Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.” -Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“Happy New Year 2016: May this year bring you more love, joy, and successes in your life. Let’s make 2016 as the year of cultivating self love in your life.”
Originally posted on Robin’s BLOG