Love Yourself to Heal Yourself
By now, we have all heard the saying that you have to love yourself first, before you can deeply love other people.
But, some children actually grow up never feeling loved and struggle with trying to feel love for themselves.
When there is no love for oneself, how can self-love be grown and cultivated?
The answer is with focus and attention.
Developing a deep love for yourself and the person that you are requires work when starting from scratch.
Here are some practices that can start you on the path to loving yourself unconditionally and with compassion:
1. Create a written list of qualities and attributes that you like about yourself. Be sure to include items that others have pointed out to you as likeable or attractive. Add to this list whenever you notice something else that you like about yourself.
2. Engage in positive thinking about yourself. Create positive statements that you can say to yourself every day. Avoid negative thoughts about yourself and turn negative statements into positive ones.
3. Reflect on experiences you had during your childhood when you felt loved by another person. Even if they were very brief moments, focus on these experiences and remind yourself of how you felt. Then turn that feeling back toward yourself and imagine that you are the person loving you in the same way.
For example, if your memory is a grandmother’s warm embrace, focus on the love that existed in that moment and imagine you are giving yourself that loving embrace. Focus on that moment until you can feel love washing over you.
4. Reflect on experiences in your life when you felt loved by an animal. Focus on how that animal communicated its love to you. Animal love is pure love because it is unconditional. Now turn that love back toward yourself. Imagine that you love yourself as much as that animal loved you and let that experience wash over you. Bring more attention to this experience by telling yourself, “I love myself as much as _____ loves/loved me.” Repeat this statement to yourself every day.
These practices can help to plant the seeds of self-love, but to achieve actual self-love you must work at these practices with focus and attention.
It is also important to keep in mind that self-love is not the same as conceit or arrogance.
Loving ourselves is the key to healing the pains of the past and growing into a healthy, vibrant being whose success knows no bounds!
Dr. Sharon and the VWS Team