Love yourself I hear you say, what? Weren’t we all brought up to put others first?  Is it not considered selfish to love yourself? Let’s face it, we’ve all heard it a million times over from our parents, teachers and society that we should always put others needs before our own.

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It’s a great thing to help others and this can be deeply rewarding for both parties. However, if you’re living your life completely for the benefit of those around you then you will no doubt experience burn out at some point and will create a void in your own life. Empathy is of course both a positive skill and personality trait but all too often those who demonstrate the most empathy to others can be the ones struggling the most with their own emotions.

Your happiness is just as important as the happiness of those around you! Loving yourself doesn’t have to be at the expense of others.

You show your partner, family and friends that you appreciate them; respect them, care for them, trust them, believe in them, support them, value them and love them, right? Well if that’s the case then you will be much better placed to take better care of your significant others if you take care of YOU first!

Loving yourself includes doing things to benefit your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual self first so that you can share the BEST YOU with others. The best you is stronger; mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s all about balance, balance within yourself is the key.

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Here are 10 ways you can begin loving yourself today:

1. Create TIME and SPACE for YOU

A never-ending ‘to-do’ list can be a source of great stress and cause you to become overwhelmed. We all have busy lives these days and are pressured to keep a dozen plates spinning all of the time.

Reducing your stress is important for your well-being. Outsource work where possible, relinquish responsibility and learn to accept help where required.

Retreat from commitments you are able to. Slow down! If you rush about like a crazy person you will miss the joy that can be found in each day.

Take time for YOU, enjoy little moments and create a little space where you can think clearly and do what makes you happy. An example would be to spend a portion of each day (whatever you can spare, 10-20 minutes or 2 hours, it’s up to you) doing exactly what you want to do, taking a stroll, coffee with a friend, watching the wildlife in the garden.

It’s important to be committed to your own needs and happiness and doing a little bit of what you fancy will release tension and allow you to cope more positively with whatever the day brings. They say life is short and it’s true, so make sure you take TIME for YOU while you’re here.

2. Be Grateful Every Day.

It can be hard to remember to be grateful for the things we have, especially during adversity and challenging times. We can be all too easily consumed with feelings that we are hard done to, woe is me! But even during the darkest and most difficult times, every one of us has something to be grateful for each day.

Focus on everything you HAVE and NOT what you may feel is missing. Can you see the blue sky, hear the birds or feel the wind in your face today? Hugs from your partner, the sound of your children’s laughter? These things are all blessings. Open yourself up to the many things you have to be truly grateful for, it’s amazing how much more positive this can make you feel.

3. Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Vibes

Many of us are our own worst critics. Do those negative voices chatter frequently? How would you describe yourself? Have a go, I’ll bet there are negative connotations in the labels you use to describe yourself?

Now, do the same exercise for someone close to you, how would you describe them? Can you spot the difference? If you used more positive phrases and words to describe someone else, why do you think that is?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, it seems many of us have difficulty being kind to and loving ourselves. Try to swap the negative talk to something more positive and rephrase the negative voices as they pop up. For example, ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ can be changed to ‘I’m more than capable of tackling that’. Most of our negative voices do not come from a place of reality; they are set by our fears, anxieties and insecurities. They can be changed for positive mantras to assist you to move forward with positive change. Being more positive about yourself, to yourself, for yourself will ultimately set you free to take action and purposeful steps to achieve your goals whatever they may be.

4. Learn to ‘Let Go’

Forgiving yourself and others is a huge step forward in learning to love yourself. Nobody is perfect. We are all muddling through this crazy life together and we all have and will make mistakes along the way.

Often past events and relationships which have been difficult can define how we think and feel for many months sometimes years into the future. Whilst it’s important not to suppress negative emotions in reaction to events when we remunerate over and over situations or events, this can lead to deep feelings of dissatisfaction which can impact upon the way we think, feel and react to others in our daily lives.

The past is the past, we can’t revisit it, and we can only remember it in our thoughts. You are in control; you can leave it in the past where it belongs. The future is the future, it won’t be experienced until it is in the present, and so don’t waste time worrying about what may happen. All we have is NOW! 

Accept that others make mistakes just like you and forgive. That’s not to say that you should tolerate and accept to be treated poorly from others, just that you cannot change past events and that forgiving yourself and others can give you a great sense of freedom from negative feelings you experience when you hold on. Sometimes forgiveness is not an option, in these situations, it is still possible to ‘let go’ – it happened, or it failed to happen, it influenced you but doesn’t have to define you.

Take back control, negative feelings can only rule if you allow them to, it’s your CHOICE.

5. Nurture Positive and Release Toxic Relationships

We all have a basic need to feel ‘loved’. Care for, show compassion and love to others but be choosy and don’t waste your precious time and energy on people who do not value and respect you. This is not about being insensitive, those who do not value you and treat you the way you deserve to be treated can be gently removed from your life, you can simply choose to spend less time with them and remove the negative draining effect they have on your emotions.

Instead show love and compassion to yourself by investing your time and energy wisely, on those who truly matter and who make you feel loved, valued and respected. It’s amazing how when you put this into action, you will begin to attract people into your life with the qualities you value the most. Cherish and enjoy the moments you spend with fantastic caring people around you.

6. Learn to Say NO

How many times have you attended an engagement or event out of fear of what others would think if you don’t show your face? 

Of course, it’s good to meet your daily obligations and not shirk responsibility but there are also times we need to say NO.  You do not have to agree to every request and invitation especially if obliging would be at your own expense.

We are all short on time in this busy world, it is important to ensure you don’t overdo it and zap your energy. Say yes if you WANT to, if you CAN and only if it is not detrimental to you. 

7. Know Your Worth

Are you confident in yourself? Do you know your own worth? Do you belittle yourself or put yourself down to others? Do you deflect compliments or have low self-esteem?

The way you perceive your value will, in turn, affect how other people see you.  If you do not know your worth, this will come across to others and you are more likely to allow people to treat you less favourably than you deserve.

Knowing your worth and having healthy personal boundaries go hand in hand. Knowing your worth means you place importance on prioritising your needs and emotions and you understand you are not responsible for the needs and emotions of others. You are worth not what others say you are, but what you say you are! You don’t need to prove your worth to anybody but yourself. Make yourself a priority, you will find it far easier to navigate life’s troubles and strife’s if you look after your own well-being first. 

8. Stop Seeking Perfection

Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel constantly guilty for not being a better parent, wife, husband, student, employee etc. etc?

We are constantly bombarded with media representations of perfection. How many times have we seen media portrayals of the perfect wife with the perfect life with the show-home that is immaculately clean and tidy 24/7, looking like a catwalk model with a French manicure and not a hair out of place, and that’s just to do the school run! YEA RIGHT! 

Unfortunately, real life very rarely reflects the fairy tales depicted by the media. Real life is filled with real people living ‘ordinary’ lives. This generally means that most women or men doing the school run are just happy to finally get the kids out of the door after battling over who ate the last Weetabix. They are less preoccupied with planning their weekly wardrobe and what colour to paint their nails. And the house, well this is rarely immaculate as yes you guessed it, it’s actually lived in! Nobody is perfect!

Accept your imperfections, it’s good to work towards self-improvement but don’t waste time striving for something that is unrealistic. This will just open the floodgates for negativity as you will never reach your goals if they were made to be unattainable in the first place.  ACCEPT yourself and be HAPPY with who YOU are. 

9. Look After Yourself – Mind, Body, Spirit

The simplest acts of self-love can be the most powerful.  Taking care of your holistic needs will help you build a strong foundation and will reinforce your positive habits of self-love. This includes eating well, looking after your body and your physical needs and taking time to allow good quality sleep.

Look after the environment around you, for example, de-cluttering your home can go a long way in unclogging your mind. By creating a clutter-free space you will be creating a clutter-free frame of mind and letting go of lots of stuff in the bargain! 

You spend lots of time at home and at work so make this space as comfortable and as pleasant as possible, inject your personality into it and make it a place which makes you smile and invokes calm. I’m not talking a complete renovation or makeover here; you don’t need to bust the bank! It can be as simple as hanging up those pictures you’ve had in the cupboard for years, pinning some inspirational quotes to the fridge or lighting a fragrant scented candle.

10.  Believe in Yourself – Be True to You

We are brought up to be respectful, well-mannered and polite. This does not mean that we cannot express our views and opinions and have confidence in our assertions.  Do you find you keep your views to yourself and easily accept those of others?

You can’t please everyone, and you don’t need to. There will ALWAYS be someone who disagrees with us or has something negative to say about what you do or don’t do, even when you are amazing and an expert in what you turn your hand to. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you think you should do based upon what others tell you to be.  Analyse anything and everything that challenges your happiness, you do not have to accept anything that goes against your core values. Believe in yourself, be true to YOU. Embrace who you are.

By learning to love yourself you will learn to love life with more vitality and vigour. You truly deserve to lead a meaningful and happy life so get into good habits starting today and learn to self-love taking one small step at a time. You will find that by doing so your light shines more brightly and you will automatically experience more positive interactions and relationships.

Sending Love & Light

Shelley Anita Secretly Spiritual