It really doesn’t matter what faith tradition you explore. When I look across ancient wisdom writings and contemporary writings on spirituality, I find myself coming across some very basic and simple teachings about loving one’s self. Over the last few years, I have been making notes about things I have learned to do and am working on doing in my life to bring myself to that place of unconditional self-love. The other day, I started organizing some of my notes, part of my spring cleaning ritual, and realized I had a whole list of lessons I had learned about how to be more loving of myself. I could probably write a whole book on this, so I thought I would share a few of the highlights J
One of the things I have come to realize is that I needed to stop blaming others for things that had happened in my life and take full responsibility for my life. I said that to someone recently and she asked me if that meant I was blaming myself for being raped in high school. No, I was not blaming myself for that or blaming others. It was what it was. What I was being responsible for was what I did with that experience. I went through years of therapy. I stopped thinking about myself as a victim, but as a survivor. I stopped allowing that event from my past to have power over my present. Because I love myself unconditionally, I took control of my present, acknowledged my past, but released its’ control over my present and my future. I came to realize that I am the cause of what happens or does not happen in my life. I am the author of my story. If I do not like the way my life is going, then I can write a new storyline.
One of the things I have learned is to focus on doing things I like to do. I know we are in tough times economically, at least that is what we have been told, but I am determined to not stay in jobs that I do not like. I am truly blessed right now that I am doing three things I love doing and that give me great joy in life. Recently someone told me that I have been disgustingly happy the last year and a half or so. Hmm, not sure how disgusting and happy go together and what is so disgusting about being happy?
One of the teachings of Toltec wisdom is to do your best. It is important to participate in life at the highest level you can. Live each day to its fullest, be the best you that you can be at all times and in every thing you do. If I am doing my best, then I silence the voice of my Inner Judge and Inner Victim.
Jesus was constantly casting demons out of people. We need to do the same with ourselves. We need to stop terrorizing ourselves with our thoughts. It is not that the demons are not still there in my life, but I refuse to feed them and cast them out when I become aware of them. In the process, I have learned that I must be gentle, patient, and kind with myself in this transformation and in all situations.
One of the things I learned recently is that I am worthy of looking good. Yes, I am a full figured woman or as Mo’Nique says PHAT (pretty hot and tempting J ), it is important that we give ourselves permission to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. For example, the other day I bought some new clothes (ok two pieces) and some new socks. I had not bought new socks in probably 3 years, but you know what I am worth it. It does not take money to make one’s self feel pampered and loved. It is amazing what a bubble bath, a long steamy shower, or a massage can do. We all need to take ourselves out on a hot date sometimes. Nobody can plan the perfect date for us like we can. Maybe what you really need is a do nothing day, so just do it, – and do nothing for yourself with yourself.
We can also ruin the love affair with ourselves the same way others can by putting ourselves down. So listen to what we say aloud and in our heads about ourselves. When we are impeccable with our words we stop being critical of others and ourselves. Why would others want to love someone who puts himself or herself down? If I can’t love me, why should anybody else?
The thing that I am working on most recently is taking better care of my body. It is not one of those areas in my past I did well in, however, now I am giving it good food and as much exercise, as my body will allow.
One of the things I have come to realize is that as my love for self increases, my circle of friends has changed or my friends have changed with me. We all seem to be intentional about creating lives that generate and nourish a positive self-esteem.
One of the things I have learned to do periodically is to write myself thank you letters and acknowledge myself for that which I have done for myself in my life. I have a rainy day file where I keep notes about my successes and accomplishments. If my goal was to exercise for 15 minutes and I did 3 minutes, I acknowledge my success for those 3 minutes. No, it was not 15, but 3 is better then 0.
I have learned to stop comparing myself to others. I am who I am and I am who I am supposed to be. I remember I am a work in process and am perfect just as I am at any moment in time. At the end of my life, what is going to matter is not the material stuff in life or any aspect of my identity, but did I make a difference in the world. As a song says have I done any good in the world today, have I helped anyone in need?
Throughout my day, it is important for me to remember to breathe. I cannot be angry, frustrated, fearful, or anything negative if I am taking deep, relaxing breaths. So I remember to stay focused on my breathing because I can breathe myself into a state of peace and tranquility.
I have learned that occasionally I deserve to treat myself to some indulgence. A friend of mine takes himself out to eat once a year at a fancy restaurant. It makes him feel special. This year, we are restocking our bathroom with new luxurious towels. The spa like feeling we are creating in our bathroom makes me feel like I am somewhere special, safe, and sacred every morning. Being indulgent doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars. A friend of mine has this one kind of candy she loves and every once in a while she will buy herself a box of “real” chocolate. She says it makes her feel decadent. So take a moment to do something hedonistic in your life, you are so worth it.
Focus your attention on being the change you want to be in the world. Instead of working on trying to change others, change yourself. Do things to help yourself change some of the tapes in your head. Look into a mirror, tell yourself “I love you, I really love you,” and ignore the voice in the back of your head that might say otherwise. Eventually, it will go away. While we are changing the tapes in our heads, one of the things is to stop feeling guilty for being who we are and constantly saying, "I'm sorry.” Be grateful for the mistakes, see them as valuable lessons, and avoid judging yourself. Stop punishing yourself repeatedly for a single mistake. Focus on creating positive thoughts and feelings of self-love to replace old thoughts of inadequacy.
In the midst of all this, be willing to laugh at yourself and at life. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Dating yourself is not easy. Sometimes we have negative thoughts, acknowledge it, and let it go, be kind to your mind it is a process of growth and it takes time. This is another reason to be gentle, patient, and kind with yourself. Treat yourself as if you were falling in love with yourself. You are J