We can be so hard on ourselves, can’t we? We judge ourselves harshly, we hold ourselves back from being happy, we don’t give ourselves the things we need.
It’s so easy to justify our actions as necessary, or selfless, or evidence of high standards that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. And we certainly don’t realize the negative ripple effect it causes. All of that makes this self-love thing even more tricky.
In our best moments, perhaps we can see the value of loving ourselves. We can see how it creates a positive ripple effect. We can see the ways it makes us both softer and stronger. It ultimately makes us more loving and generous. And it certainly makes us healthier, more present, and more joyful.
So if you want to work on loving yourself well, here are three practices that will help.
1. Forgive yourself
Forgiving ourselves can be some of the hardest work we ever do. As with all things related to self-love and self-care, we don’t always realize we’re not forgiving ourselves. We don’t realize how much we’re holding against ourselves.
When you look at the below list, do any of these resonate with you as a step you need to take?
- Forgive yourself for not knowing better.
- Forgive yourself for knowing better and doing it anyway.
- Forgive yourself for not taking that opportunity.
- Forgive yourself for saying yes when you meant no.
- Forgive yourself for all the time wasted.
- Forgive yourself for trying to fit into someone else’s mold.
- Forgive yourself for making that mistake.
Let’s peel away another layer…. Is unforgiveness causing you to self-sabotage?
There’s a surprising telltale symptom of this: Jealousy. The places where we are eaten alive by jealousy often point to the places where we’ve self-sabotaged.
Furthermore, resentment is actually a symptom of jealousy. So when we’re feeling resentment, it may be pointing to jealousy, which is pointing back to self-sabotage.
If that doesn’t resonate, just consider this:
Loving yourself well means opening up to the possibility of health and wholeness on every level, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. If anything is standing in the way of that, forgive yourself and make a fresh start.
As much as needed, turn this into action. Embrace the lessons, and make new choices.
- Trust that you will learn.
- Trust that it can be redeemed.
- Trust that you’ll get another chance.
- Trust that it’s not permanent.
- Trust that nothing is ever truly wasted.
- Trust that you will become the person you are meant to become.
- Trust that all will be well.
2. Listen to yourself.
If we learned anything about ourselves in 2020, it’s that quiet freaks us out. Even when every single external commitment was cancelled, many of us managed to stay plenty busy with planting massive gardens and baking bread from scratch.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—some of my favorite people created some great food this way!
But sometimes, it’s important to get quiet, and listen.
Relationships require communication, and that includes your relationship with yourself.
If you kept telling your significant other what you needed from them and they ignored you again and again, how would you feel? Would that relationship last?
So why do we do that to ourselves?
Check in with yourself often. How do you feel? What is your heart telling you? Is there anything you need? Is there anything you want more of? Or less of?
Your body is begging to be understood. The way your energy flows throughout the day is one of its ways of communicating with you. Yes, there are some ways we can increase our energy level, but the ebb and flow will still be there. And, the things that give us energy should feed and fuel our bodies, not punish them.
When you’ve been under stress for a long time, it’s normal to lose sight of what you need, but keep asking yourself the questions. Keep your ears open to different ideas and suggestions throughout the day, and pay attention to what resonates. Be open to experimentation.
Over time, you will find the practices that help you work with your body, not against it, and that help you stay connected to your heart. You will grow your relationship with yourself into a healthy, thriving one.
3. Set healthy boundaries with yourself
In theory, these should be the easiest boundaries to hold, but in practice…it’s easy to go down rabbit trails that hurt us instead of help us, especially on social media.
I recently watch an interview with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, who is married to Canada’s Prime Minister. As you can imagine, there is no shortage of news and opinions coming at her each day.
But I was so inspired by the boundaries she drew for herself around the consumption of that media. She paid attention to what benefited her mental health, and what deteriorated her mental health, and she made choices about what she allowed in her mental space accordingly.
As you learn to listen to yourself, the boundaries you draw for yourself are the way you act on what you learn.
This could mean:
- Adjusting your schedule
- Changing your social media habits
- Choosing a different news outlet
- Tuning in to more inspirational media
- Creating self-care practices and habits
- Being present with yourself
- Changing your nutrition to feel better
- Deleting apps from your phone
Truthfully, this could include any action that is in the best interest of your mind and body. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!