While Self-Love Month is over for this year, I want to keep reminding you why you should keep working on loving yourself. That’s why I’m happy to have psychotherapist Derek O’Neill as my guest today. An internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, author, martial arts sensei and humanitarian, Derek inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life through his workshops, consultations, and speaking engagements. In addition to his book, The More Truth Will Set You Free, he also has recently released two new books as part of his Get a Grip series that discuss anger, happiness, relationships and everything in between.
Love Starts with You
by Derek O’Neill
Do you love yourself? Does the question make you uncomfortable? Many people think “self-love” sounds selfish or narcissistic, but it’s really just the opposite. When it comes to your overall happiness in life, you have to start with yourself. Whether it’s relationships, work, health, or parenting, feeling happy and at peace with who you are is essential. Though your feelings about yourself go through the normal ebb and flow of daily life, in order to build a strong, positive and lasting sense of identity you must go within, look at who you really are and want to be, and then discover the love that resides inside you. It may feel difficult to tap into that deep source of contentment, but we all have access to it, no matter our circumstances. Once love is completely fulfilled in your own heart, you can manifest it in the world.
What stands in the way of self-love? Do you have a critical voice in your head, judging yourself? Are you competing with an idealized image of who you should be? Do you make unreasonable demands of yourself, instead of cherishing the journey that you’re on, whatever the route? When we hold on to all those beliefs about what “should be”, and how things “ought to turn out” and why life is “supposed” to bring “x,” “y” and “z,” we are buying into a delusion that society has created. Along with creating a harsh critique of ourselves, we often begin to judge other people.
Projection into the future, along with obsession about the past, takes us out of the moment. If we’re not living in the present we can’t experience the joy right in front of us. There’s no pre-planned road map, no definite list of what makes a person successful and happy. Letting go of the idea that there’s a right, or a wrong, way allows us begin to love ourselves. From there, we can love and accept others.
Think about what created your ideas of what you “should” be doing, or have achieved or look like. Where do these voices in your head come from? Who might have said some of these things to you? It’s important to recognize the source, but equally important to take back the perceived powers of these words, and embrace yourself with a loving attitude. The seed of self-love and confidence is planted in your wanting to experience the compassion of acceptance toward yourself. So many people know how to act with kindness to others but are so harsh when it comes to how they view themselves.
Self-acceptance and love is tied to the idea that there is no perfection. When you can look at yourself as if you were your own child, and love that person unconditionally and unselfishly, you will have arrived at a crossroads of confidence. Try to wrap those negative thoughts and unforgiving self-criticisms in a blanket of love. Why would you be less deserving than any other human being in the universe? If you are carrying around a definition of yourself that is based on the external world, or past hurts, or mistakes that you have made, the shame and guilt of not living up to a perceived standard of perfection is going to keep you from experiencing happiness. What are some of the things you can do to nurture self-love and a positive self-image?
* Begin your day with affirmations that reinforce all the potential you have. Say positive things about yourself out loud. The subconscious gravitates to these affirmations and creates a noticeable improvement on how you feel about yourself.
* Try to get “can’t” and “won’t” out of your vocabulary. Look at yourself again, on your own terms. Focus on the present, not what the past has brought in the way of other’s people’s opinions or journeys that turned out differently than you hoped. Everyday is a new day. Go into your heart and begin with a fresh perspective.
* Practice forgiveness with yourself. Guilt creates a hurdle for self-love that is difficult to get past. Lovingly parent the child that resides inside you.
* Look around you. What can you improve in your life that will build self-love? Work on being a good friend and make an effort to bring harmony to family dynamics. Are you taking care of your health, eating mindfully and exercising? How do you cope with stress? Do you enjoy your hobbies and free time? Is helping other people a part of your life? We are constantly practicing relating to people and things. To be connected to what is going on in our lives, in a conscious, jubilant way is to be aware and present in self-love.
* The relationship that you have with a belief practice can help with learning to love yourself. When you study and realize an approach to life that expands your consciousness and gives you a foundation, you are grounded within your own heart and soul. When you commit to going deeper, you’re tapping into your abundant ability to love yourself, and others.?
We all have a story. It is the story of our past, our present and the journey we are taking toward our future. The relationship you have to that story is incredibly important. No matter what it is, embrace it. Don’t judge and reject who you are. Live your life fully and joyfully. When you love yourself, nothing can knock you down, stop your progress or diminish your dreams!
Join the Self-Love Movement! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 2013 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.
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