Some of us put so much focus on taking care of others that we neglect our own needs. And some of us are so accustom to giving our love away to others that we forget to save some for ourselves. Although we may think of low self esteem as something that teenagers suffer through, it can impact us at any stage and age. It might be a chronic challenge, spurred on the insecure teenager within that does not feel as good about herself as she should. Or it could be situational—a divorce, job loss, money issue, problems with out kids, or any change that throws us off balance.
Are you feeling the love? If not, here are 8 tips and techniques to help you enhance your life by cultivating love from within.
1. Create a Self-Love “Curriculum” for Life
Lack of self-esteem can grab hold in times of stress and challenge, and self-loathing is fueled by exhaustion and hopelessness. Self-love can be reborn by making a commitment to add life-affirming activities to daily life. It is crucial that we nourish ourselves – body, mind and spirit. This does not mean going to a spa every few years. It has to be blended into our life styles and treated with as much importance as a doctor’s appointment.
Many of us are very generous with those around us. We give of ourselves to friends, family, co-workers. We slave to make clients happy and make sure our kids and mates have when they need. We twist ourselves into pretzels to accommodate the needs of others. But when it comes to ourselves, we can be stingy.
The First Step: Time to chart a course to improved self-image that stimulates all the senses. This will fill you with a sense of hopefulness and potential! Make a list of things that will enhance your feelings of self-esteem. Incorporate everything from meditation and prayer, to taking yourself out on dates, to activities that bring you joy, and enhance your well-being on all levels. Above all, “follow your bliss!”
2. Replacing Self-Defeat with Self Love
Being kind to oneself is a healthy habit to get into. Work to release feelings of regret, angst, fear, and anxiety and instead fill up with love, joy, possibility, and spirit. For example, does your current morning meditation include sipping coffee while berating yourself for a goof-up at work, worrying about something that happen between you and a friend, or giving yourself guilt because of that chocolate cake you ate? If someone else were beating up on you the way you beat up on yourself, you’d fight back. In this case, you have to learn to fight the urge to defeat your own purpose in life and replace repetitive, negative thinking with that which uplifts you heart and soul.
The First Step: Begin with a wish to be filled with a sense of possibility -- positive, hopeful thoughts and ideas. Create a new intention that if you slip into negative self talk you will switch your focus. Try a special mantra or affirmation that can redirect your energy. Some possibilities to get you started: I am one with God. I am a good person. Light fills my being. I radiate good energy and thoughts.
3. Open Your Heart ... to Yourself.
We may say we want love, success, and happiness, but we don’t always back up our dreams with self honoring actions. Without self-love, we have no foundation to uphold or contain love, self esteem, and true potential. Someone can love you with more heart than you ever imagined, but where will it go if you have no internal mechanism for recognizing pure love? The universe can shower you with opportunities, but you will miss the best plums on the tree because you won’t think you deserve to reach for them.
The First Step: Take 10 to 20 minutes every morning to meditate to a piece of music that feels heart-opening and uplifting to you.
4. Write a New Mission Statement for Your Life.
Loving ourselves can be a learning process for some of us, and we all learn best when the topic we are dealing with is presented to us in plain language.
The First Step: Craft a Self-Nurturing Mission Statement for your life. The statement should put forth the intension and vision for a fulfilling life in which honoring yourself is key. Your mission statement might look like this:
I am a beautiful person and I have so much to share with the world. Honoring myself and my needs is my first priority. My life is enhanced daily by simple acts of self-nurturing and my world is in balance. I have excellent boundaries and I wake up each morning with a deep sense of self-love, self-esteem and entitlement. It is my birthright to be happy, successful, and loved.
5. Redefine the Word Selfish
What if Selfish became self-ish? My friend, Dr. Patti Britton, suggests taking this word, which has a negative connotation, and giving it a positive spin. It is time to be a little more self-ish!
The First Step: Take each word and imbue each letter with a new, fuller meaning. Try this on for size:
S Nurture your SPIRIT.
E ENJOY moments alone.
L LOVE yourself.
F Keep FIT and FEEL good.
I Make your unique needs IMPORTANT.
S SHOWER yourself with gift
H Be HAPPY and open-HEARTED.
6. E-mail Yourself Love Notes
Send yourself an e-mail every day (for at least 30 days) with a new message of encouragement and love. Think it’s goofy? Think again. If you were falling in love with another person, how would you feel if he or she e-mailed you some loving words of encouragement every day, just because they care? You would feel high on life, happy, whole, and thrilled. You would feel like something magical is happening. You would be uplifted and empowered because someone had chosen you, and was honoring you by constantly letting your know how they feel about you. In this case, you are creating all the same feelings – by yourself, for yourself.
The First Step: You can write anything you choose. Some examples to get you started: Tell yourself how beautiful you looked today; give yourself laurels for any job well done; thank yourself for all the good things you do for others in a day; write yourself a romantic note extolling the virtues of ... you!
7. Try a “Self-Love Bath.”
We all need to recharge and regenerate ourselves. And there is nothing like giving yourself some “me time” in a warm, wonderful bath. Use it as a way to clear your mind, reclaim yourself, heal, and transmute blues and blahs.
The First Step: Draw a bath. Play relaxing and sensual music. Slip into the warm water, daydream, and allow yourself to bask in the energy of love. It truly creates an impression in your own mind and spirit that you are someone who deserves royal treatment and who is willing to receive it! You can power your bath with your own special scents, or use a special healing formula such as sea salt, which conjures the healing of the ocean. One or two cups coarse sea salt restores. electrolytes. Feeling achy? Use some Epson salts too.
8. Put into Your Body Things You Can Be Proud Of
We all know by now that certain foods, chemicals, and substances like alcohol can work against us in all areas of life. It is time to truly acknowledge that your body is your temple and treat it as sacred. If you are having any kind of imbalance or dis-ease – depression, illness, self-hating blues – see if you can find an external “chemical” cause for it. Start with what you are eating. Then look at what you are drinking as well as chemicals you are taking in. For example, sugar, wheat, yeast, processed foods, certain carbs, and alcohol, can all add together to make an I-Don’t-Feel-Great stew and a grumpy you.
The First Step: There are many things we can do to lighten up and alleviate the cause and effect of the things that may make us cranky, ill, and feeling hopeless – which can all add to lack of self love and self esteem. Experiment with eliminating different potential trigger substances from your life. Delete things from your general diet that cause you to turn on yourself. Make a choice to find out what foods empower your well being --perhaps more fruits and veggies, or your body might need more lean meat to keep your head clear-- and add in the things that help you feel great.
And in the End...
Ultimately, the more we love ourselves, the more love we can share with those around us. The more love we bring to our families and friends, and the more love we add to our world.
Exceprted from Rituals for Love and Romance: Attract Your Soulmate with Ceremony and Self-love (HealingEbooks, May 2009, by Laurie Sue Brockway). Join Rev. Laurie Sue in the Facebook group, The Soulmate Project