Why is it that you believe you first have to lose 20 pounds, make a ton of money or get a degree before you deserve to be loved? Why is it that you withhold this free and unlimited resource from yourself? Why would you be outsourcing your most valuable asset? Why would you ask others to do what you cannot do for yourself, that is love you? Why is it that you expect your lover, your parents, your friends to love you unconditionally when you yourself are so persistent in adding conditions such as losing weight, making money, becoming successful, becoming popular before you’ll finally be fit to be loved?
Self-love starts with a willingness to let go of judgement, judgement of everything that’s not ideal. Maybe you’ve been brought up as the good girl, the one that never posed any problems, the one who said: “Yes, mummy”, who wouldn’t dream of getting her clothes dirty because…. because then mummy would be upset. And you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you, because if she was angry, she wouldn’t love you, would she?
Mummy might have got angry, but not with you. She might have scowled at you for getting your clothes dirty, she might have been grumpy if you didn’t eat up, but what she was really upset about was your behaviour, not you.
We identify with our behaviour
This is how children (who later become adults) take on a false identity. They confuse who they are with what they do. A parent might disapprove of a behaviour and scold a child for it. This can make the child doubt her worthiness to be loved because she takes on the identity of her behaviour. She starts believing: “I’m somebody who gets her clothes dirty which is bad so I must be bad.”
Think of a child who told a fib, or lied, if you will. Parents would be right to upbraid the child for lying. After all, lying is bad. If everybody went around lying, what would our society be like? A parent might reproach a child and say: “You lied! That’s bad.” This, however, in the mind of the child becomes: “I’m a liar, I’m bad.” When the child was an all-powerful baby who could delight mum and dad by just wiggling her toes, life was good. She was loved. Then, growing up, the child confusedly felt that love was withdrawn as a result of her BEING bad, not DOING something bad, and thus the struggle for worthiness of love begins.
Stop bargaining for love
You have to decide that you’re lovable. There’s nothing you have to do, be or have to be lovable: no weight to shed, no career to achieve, no possessions to acquire. You’re lovable just as you are. To convince you of this fact, here are 3 Self-Love Cultivating Habits that you can start practising RIGHT NOW.
For more tips, tools and inspiration on how to build your self-love habits, download my eBook on Self-Love here.
Let’s start right at the beginning of your day by building habits that support your day in self-love. What do you do when you get up? Most people go to the bathroom. If you want a habit to stick, it’s good to connect it with another habit that you’ve already got in place (if you want to find out more about how to form, change or get rid of habits, take a look at Atomic Habits by James Clear). SO when you go to the bathroom, why don’t you take 2 minutes to look yourself in the mirror? You might already be doing this, but what do you tell the person in the mirror? Do you say: “Hello, gorgeous”? Do you tell her: “I love you”? You most likely don’t but instead use the 3 Bs on her: upBraiding, Belittling or Berating. Maybe you criticize her for having wrinkles, spots, grey hair, puffy eyes…. the list is endless. What I’m inviting you to do is to change that routine for something magical: tell the person in the mirror that you love her. Take a good look into her eyes, get a glimpse of who’s hiding there beyond the eyebrows that need to be plucked. Tell her: “I love you + your first name”! If that seems a bit too awkward for you, say something along the lines of: “I’m willing to open up to loving you + first name”. (For more Mirror Work exercises, check out Louise Hay)
You’ve now set yourself up for love all through the day. As you go through it, keep an eye out for moments to feel how much you love yourself. You might not be in the habit of thinking of yourself first; you might think that it is selfish but let me just assure you that this is not the case. Think of it this way: when you take care of yourself first, when your desires and needs are met, you have got so much more to offer others. When you put others and their needs and desires before your own, you could just be building the anti-self-love habit of feeling resentful!
This of course doesn’t mean that you should ignore your crying baby and only think of yourself. That’s not self-love because that would most certainly go against your core values. Going against your values is decidedly anti-self-love so what do you do when other people’s needs come in the way of your self-love actions? You take care of the people who’re dependent on you, especially if it’s a baby who’s so totally dependent that it would die if you didn’t take care of it. But most people are not babies. In fact, only babies are babies so that leaves a huge space to wiggle!
When your child wants you, you could perhaps teach her to wait. A guideline for how long you can reasonable ask a child to wait is her age. A toddler of 2 can be taught to wait 2 minutes and a child of 10 can be taught to wait 10 minutes!!! The operating word here is “teach”. Teaching is not immediate so if your child has been used to your dropping everything the moment she required you to do so, you must go slowly. You must proceed little by little so that they’ll get used to it. A self-loving way to deal with requests on your time or attention could thus be to ask the person to wait and tell them that you’ll get back to them at a certain time.
Can I just remind you that your work colleagues are not babies, but that they might have to be taught all the same? As might members of your family. Don’t just tell them to wait. Tell them (with love) that you’ll answer their request in so many minutes, hours, days… Is this making you sweat? If so, practise.
Practise saying: “I understand your question and I’ll get back to you at X, Y, Z o’clock when I can give it my full attention.” You’re not saying NO, you’re saying: “I’m hearing you. I’ve got you. I care and will deal with it at X,Y,Z o’clock”. Nothing to get upset about. After all, you’ve just promised them your full attention which is really the best you have to offer! If people have got used to seeing you as an automatic YES-machine, you might have to educate them into a different idea, and this could take some time but it’s worth it!
During the day, you make sure that NOBODY (except your babies) commandeer you around. You are allowed to say: “LATER” and you’re also allowed to say “NO”. Once you’ve got these tricks in your toolbox, you’ll find that your YES is so much more appreciated because it’s not automatic! So train yourself to choose wisely between saying YES and saying LATER and saying NO.
You do this by pausing before answering. When you breathe in before you let your answer spill out of your mouth, you stop. You count to 3, really slowly, and feel into how you’d really like to answer. Stop yourself from saying YES when you mean NO. That is real self-love. Brené Brown (https://brenebrown.com/) calls this choosing a moment of discomfort (gearing up to say NO or LATER) over a lifetime of resentment. At first, it could feel uncomfortable to have people wait or to refuse a request but saying YES when you mean NO is only setting yourself up for feeling resentment. A few years from now, you could be asking yourself: “Why does nobody care about what I want, about my desires and needs?” Well, that would be because you never told anybody about them!
Once you’ve managed to stem the flow of demands on you, you’re free to take this a mile further. Go through the tasks of the day and ask yourself how you could make them more fun, more enjoyable or easier. How could you lighten your load of daily chores? By starting to enjoy even the tasks that are not normally considered enjoyable? Would doing them to music be more fun? Doing them with somebody else? Doing them with your favourite hot drink in one hand? Would having a flower on your desk help you feel good? Would a clean bathroom make brushing your teeth more enjoyable? Would fantasy jewellery make it more fun to get dressed? Could an odour of incense in your living-room heighten your pleasure? What would you really enjoy?
What we’re trying to do here is to connect you to your joy. Gifting yourself joyful moments is very self-love. During the day, set aside time to enjoy. A habit is easier to adopt as I said earlier if you associate it with something you already do. If you’re in the habit of eating say lunch, could you gift yourself a treat while you were having lunch? Could you listen to your favourite music while eating? Could you make sure you were in good company, with people you like spending time with during lunch? Could you gift yourself the time to actually taste your food? Could you add an ingredient that would take your enjoyment to another level?
Creating what I call Moments of Bliss throughout the day will let your subconscious mind know that you’re worth it. When you gift yourself these moments, you light up: the sky no longer seems so grey, traffic is not all that bad and hubby will probably have taken care of the shopping on his way home. In short, life gets to be so much more enjoyable. I’m not talking about HUGE events in your life. You can’t after all get married every day, go on your dream holiday or have a pay rise, but you CAN make sure to build in little Moments of Bliss, a few minutes here and there where you connect to what makes you happy. Now that is real self-love, respecting your own needs and desires so that you can give lovingly to the rest of the world from your overflowing cup of joy and love.
To sum up the 3 self-love habits to cultivate :
1. Start your day by telling yourself that you love you. That is after all the basis of self-love.
2. Consider saying NO or LATER to people’s demands on you. Ditch the default mode of being an automatic YES-saying machine.
3.Gift yourself Moments of Bliss all through the day; after all, you deserve it as much as anybody else. It’s the little things that count.
About the author:
Katrine Horn is a speaker and life coach who guides women to create the life of their dreams, to recognize their intrinsic value and release the illusion that life is a struggle. Katrine teaches women how to manage their emotions leaving them free to embrace opportunity when it comes their way. She helps them enter their Zone of Excellence where there are able to step aside to allow their highest good to find them.
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