Advertising

How to Love Yourself More

How to Love Yourself More
Advertising

I never thought I didn’t love myself.

If someone had asked me if I loved myself, I’m confident that my 20-something self would have said, “Yes.” The truth is, in subtle ways I neglected to honor my needs, my voice, my expression, my feelings…my being. This showed up in many ways. I worried about what other people needed and forgot what I needed. “What do you need?” was never a question I asked myself. I’d say “yes” when I really needed to say “no.” I’d allow people to dump their feelings on me in service of being a good listener. When I walked away from the conversation, I felt drained and emotionally beaten up. I avoided sharing my feelings or point of view to keep the peace.

How could you love yourself more?

Advertising

Does the question, even the phrase self-love, spark the word “selfish” in your mind? Many of us are taught to put others first. This is a beautiful teaching and intention, but sometimes we take that so far that we forget the most important person in our lives is ourselves. When I became burned out from my career, my relationship, and the pace of my life, I knew that it was time to shift my focus from others back towards myself. What I didn’t expect was that this shift would lead me to embark on the most important and challenging path of self-love.

How To Start Loving Yourself

Learning to love yourself is a life path, not a quick fix.

I still sometimes say “yes” when I should say “no.” I can forget to ask myself “what do you need” when I’m trying to resolve a challenge with another person. What’s changed is that now self-love is a top priority in my life, it’s no longer a yucky word that feels “selfish.” With time I have developed a strong foundation of habits and attitudes that easily bring me back to self-love when I fall into old patterns. The tips below can form a foundation for your own self-love. While you won’t experience it in an instant, with regular practice you will start to pave a lasting path to return to when you get lost.

Become familiar with your inner voice.

We all have that inner voice of wisdom deep inside of us. Somewhere between college and adulthood, I lost my connection to my inner voice and had to regain it. I started by thinking less and listening more to myself. This is an important difference. Overthinking blocks you from hearing your inner wisdom. To start listening more, take out a notebook and pen. Reflect on a challenging situation and then ask yourself one of the following questions: “What do I need?”, “What do I feel?”, and “What do I want?”

Advertising

Write whatever you hear that comes back. Pretend you are in conversation with another person, listening. Write exactly what you hear. Do not analyze it, just trust everything and write it all down. If writing isn’t your thing, audio record yourself with your phone or computer. Make this a weekly practice to start “tuning in” to your inner voice.

Do more of what your gut says.

For one whole day, only do what you feel moved to do. For example, take a nap when you feel like you need one. Feel like grabbing dinner with a friend and seeing a movie? Make reservations and buy your tickets. Feel like you want to jump in rain puddles? Jump away. Only do what you feel like doing for one whole entire day and then commit to doing more of what you feel. A common obstacle to self-love is over-regulation of our desires in service of a long list of “shoulds” in our mind.

This can cut us off from fun, play, and lightness in our life as we put goals, achievements, and other people’s desires over our own. When done mindfully, this practice can start to honor your needs in small ways. When we honor our own needs, we feel more content and ultimately, more loved.

Advertising

Practice free expression.

Find any way to start expressing yourself more openly. I find that free expression is one of the greatest blocks to self-love. Whether it is dancing, painting, craft-making, writing, or building, give yourself permission to express what you want. Commit to free expression without judgement. For example, if you choose to paint, do it for the pure joy of expressing what you are inspired to paint and leave out questions about whether it is “good.” Ready to share more vulnerably with a friend? Leave your fearful filtering system behind. Practice free expression without judgement, analysis, or a need to understand. Free expression creates a safe sacred space to truly honor yourself.

Love yourself like you love others.

What if you gave the amount of care, respect, and dignity you give to someone you love to yourself? Don’t you deserve that kind of love? One way you can do this is by flipping the script. Ask yourself what you would want for your partner, best friend, or loved one when you’re facing a decision, taking a day off from work, or preparing for a meeting. What would you hope for them in both important and ordinary moments? What advice would you give them?

Take these hopes and advice and flip them for yourself. Would you tell your best friend to take a mental health day and go for a hike? Get your shoes ready! Would you tell your partner to advocate for the salary increase they deserve? Prepare your pitch and get ready to grow!

Advertising

Treat yourself with tenderness.

Every time your inner critic comes out, be gentle with it. Imagine your inner critic voice as the seven-year-old part of yourself that feels scared, wants to be seen, and matter. When our inner critic comes up through judgement, “should stories,” and self-blame, we are struggling to feel loved and struggling to know we are loveable in that moment.

I like to imagine a young version of myself delivering the message of my inner critic when this happens. When I see the young girl in my critic’s voice, I soften inside, see clearly, and forgive myself, knowing I simply want to be reconnected to love in that moment. Treat your inner critic like a parent would treat their only child. Love it, forgive it, and understand why it is scared. This sparks self-compassion and opens you up to feeling self-love.

More by this author

Marci Moberg

Mindfulness and Transformation Expert

How to Love Yourself More How To Create New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Keep

Trending in Brain

1 How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly 2 11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind 3 4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset 4 What Is Creative Thinking and Why Is It Important? 5 How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly
Advertising

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

Advertising

After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

Advertising

Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

Advertising

Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

Advertising

Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

Read Next