When you are really and truly loving yourself, love from others will show up like magic in your life.
Are you looking for love? Perhaps you are on Tinder, scrolling through the options –swiping left or right without thinking too much about it. Or perhaps you are on another dating app, which is more sophisticated and matches you with people with whom you have things in common. Maybe you are going to Dinners for Eight and enjoying fine dining with strangers, some of whom may become friends or lovers, around a candle-lit table.
Unless you have done the deep dive into your own heart and discovered the infinite and abundant love there, it will be difficult to find love with another. Because your essence is actually love, it is you who you are seeking.
The first step in the journey to loving yourself
Ask yourself today: do I really love myself? Do I deeply respect myself? Am I following my heart’s desires? Am I caring daily for my body, mind and soul? Am I choosing to spend time with people who are loving and caring and respectful towards me? Do I tell myself every morning how much I love myself? Am I doing work that I love and that feeds my soul?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, chances are you are not fully loving yourself. And if this is the case, it is going to be hard to find your dreamed-of partner, no matter how hard you search. The first step in the journey to loving yourself is to really investigate your relationship to yourself and discover all of the ways that you are not currently in a loving relationship with yourself. Do you have a nasty inner critic who is telling you that you are not good enough, that you will never make it, that you are not lovable? Are you living your life based on a need to please others rather than pleasing yourself? Do you tell yourself that caring for others is more important than realising your dreams and then holding secret resentments as a result? Are you living from an inner place of fear and scarcity, or one of love and abundance?
The way we relate with ourselves is also the way we relate to others. So if you are critical and judgemental of yourself, you are likely to be critical and judgemental of others. If you are not taking good care of yourself, it will be harder for you to take good care of others. If you are not following your heart and being guided by your desires, it will be hard for you to support a partner in following their heart and living their dreams.
The second step in the journey of self-love is self-forgiveness. Forgive yourself for absolutely everything in your past. Forgive yourself for all of your perceived mistakes with yourself and with others. Forgive yourself for all of your perceived successes. Forgive yourself for all of the arguments or disagreements you have ever had with anyone. Forgive yourself for all of the falling-outs with friends of lovers. In short, forgive yourself for everything. Let yourself off the hook. And especially, if there is something big in your life you want to change that has been a pattern for a long time, forgive yourself for that. Without forgiveness, we can’t let go of the past, and so there is no inner space in our life for that change to come in and for a new future to emerge. When you forgive yourself fully and completely for everything and make peace with your past, you are able to forgive others fully and completely for everything, and to make peace with them. Relationships become more harmonious.
The third step in the journey to self-love is self-acceptance. Are there things about yourself that you have always wanted to change? Is there a persistent theme in your life that just never shifts and drives you mad? Accept what is. Accept yourself exactly how you are today. As the Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.”
Practise accepting yourself as you are each day. This brings you into alignment with your soul and your heart. You can’t open fully to love if there is a conflict going on inside, so practise self-acceptance. Accept the shadow parts of yourself; what I call your monsters. These are the monsters of self-doubt and of fear that usually show up when you are moving out of your comfort zone. They are afraid and they want to keep you safe. So they start whispering to you to retreat and retract and not carry out that bold and scary plan for expanding your life. Accept and welcome these monsters. Invite them in for a cup of tea. Tell them that you love them, and that you will keep them safe. Tell them that you understand their fear but that you’re in charge and it’s going to be okay. For instance, if you are in a job you don’t like, then accept that that’s how it is right now, while making an exit plan.
Your inner child
The fourth step in the self-love journey is making peace with your inner child. There is a child-self within all of us. If our needs were not fully met by our parents or guardians, or if we were mistreated in some way as children, this child-self is likely to still be resentful of this. They may be angry. Or they may be sad. If you are not in contact with your inner child, he or she may come out sometimes and act out in your life. They may take you over and yell and scream at people you love. You may feel like you have been occupied by another being. All they want is to be heard, to be listened to, and to know that you are loving and caring for them.
So you need to develop a relationship with your child-self. You need to ask them what they need from you. It is almost like a time travel journey where you go back when you child-self was hurt, lost, or confused, and you sit down next to them and have a chat. You ask them how they feel. You tell them you are there for them and that you can help. Then you do what they want you to. They may want you to take them flying over the treetops. In your imagination you can do that. Slowly, you will start to develop a relationship with your inner child, and they will start to feel the love from you that they might have been missing.
Look in the mirror
The journey to loving yourself is a lifelong journey. These are four of the important steps along the way. Another important step is to develop a daily practice of self-loving. Try doing affirmations each day in front of the mirror. Each morning, sit and tell yourself how much you love yourself. Tell yourself you are beautiful, that you are lovable, that you are great. It may be challenging at first, but stick with it. Over time, you will notice a change and you will start to really believe these affirmations, and so your self-love will grow. And when you are really and truly loving yourself, the love from others that you searched for before will show up like magic in your life. People are attracted to people who love themselves, because they want to feel your love too.
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