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How to Love Yourself More

How to Love Yourself More

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?

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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?”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Marci Moberg

Mindfulness and Transformation Expert

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Published on November 18, 2019

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Creativity
  4. Open-mindedness
  5. Problem-solving

Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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1. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

To use it for critical thinking:

  • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
  • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
  • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
  • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
  • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
  • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

2. Communication

Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

  • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
  • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
  • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
  • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
  • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
  • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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3. Creativity

Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

  • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
  • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
  • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
  • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

4. Open-Mindedness

It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

To get an idea,

  • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
  • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
  • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
  • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
  • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
  • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

5. Problem-Solving

Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

  1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
  2. Battery is dead. Why?
  3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
  4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
  5. It was old and worn out. Why?
  6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

Final Thoughts

Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

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Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

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