Gautam Buddha said,” You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserves your love and affection.”
Then why do we do we beat ourselves over nothing. “Why did I say that? That was just stupid…What is wrong with me?”etc on and on…When I signed up for the domestic violence certification program few years ago the very first concept they introduced was Self love. We were told before we can love anyone else we need to love ourselves first. I thought ,” Wait isn’t that selfish?”. I have always been guilty of putting other peoples interest before mine. I just didn’t know how to say no be it personal relationships or work related stuff. However the idea of Self Love opened my eyes to a whole new way of appreciating me.
Here’s some of the things that have helped me practice self love-
1. Mirror Exercise- In the past when I looked at myself in the mirror I spent a lot of time noticing flaws. I had too much of this or too little of that…Now when I stand in front of the mirror I quietly notice me…the shape of my eyes, the incredible light brown colors of my eyes etc … I cant help but smile when I see that I am beautiful. Doesn’t matter if others see it or not. I love everything about me! Now every time I catch my reflection in the mirror I say “Hello beautiful. I love you”.
2. Notes of encouragement- I wrote little post it notes to myself which serve as a daily reminder of my strengths. At times when I am caught up in day to day activities I sometimes get overwhelmed and feel a bit down. But when I pass by the notes and they catch my eye I am reminded that all is well and will be well even when it may feel like its not.
3. Watching my thoughts- The silent critic that’s inside is the one I need to watch out for the most. All the work I do on myself can be reduced to nothing by the critic in me who is always ready to judge harshly at the drop of a hat. As part of self love exercise, I started paying attention to what my mind was saying and I realized I didn’t like it. I had to condition my mind from being my worst critic to becoming my best cheerleader there is. It wasn’t easy, it took a while. So how did I condition my mind to be my cheer leader? Read next.
4. I am affirmations- This process really helped me a lot. I affirm my true nature every day all through out the day. I say things like” I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am talented, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am well able, I am blessed etc etc.” Not only did this make me feel great I actually started to see that these were in fact truths I was affirming and it was not some kind of lame ego trip I was taking every day. The more I reminded myself of these things the more confident and cheerful I became.
5. Surrounding myself with people that support me- I have been guilty of hanging on to unhealthy toxic relationships. I didn’t know how to walk away from them. I heard someone say,” If you love yourself enough you wont allow someone to treat to you like that”. I didn’t quiet understand what it meant. I always used to think” Of course I love myself. Its just that I am having some problems with this person. Once these are resolved I will be fine.” The signs of a toxic relationship were there but I was too blind to see. A few heart breaks later I understood what that sentence meant. Emotionally unhealthy relationships caused stress, pain, feeling of unworthiness and I started to notice it took a toll on my health. That’s when I knew I had to walk away from all the negativity caused by being with people that did not appreciate, value or respect me. In that moment I had forgiven myself, patted myself on the back for having the courage to walk away and in doing so I had expressed unconditional love for myself with out any fear of judgment or criticism. From then on I started weeding out such people from my life. Now I have a few close family and friends that are my pillars of strength, love and respect.
6. Choosing activities that are meaningful to me- In the past I would do a lot of things just to keep myself busy. Days would go by quickly. But pretty soon although my schedule was packed with activities and I enjoyed them, a feeling of emptiness would creep in. I couldn’t explain it. It would confuse me. I started to cut down my socializing and started spending more time reflecting on my life. I would read a lot of books on spirituality, took up mediation, started listening to inspirations videos on you tube. As a result I became aware of an important fact- I needed to do things that nourished my soul to feel content, happy and just blissful. From then on I consciously starting choosing activities that added value to my life. I got rid of clutter to reduce my time spent on housekeeping. I prioritized me time on my calendar. The results have been just amazing 🙂
7. Practicing emotional health, spiritual and physical well being- I forgave myself and others to start healing from old hurts. I learnt to be more patient and kind to myself instead of getting angry and frustrated when I couldn’t accomplish the goals I had set. I learnt to acknowledge even the little things I accomplished and encouraged myself to let go of fears and embrace life. I taught myself to live in the moment and not get caught up in the past or future. It is still an ongoing process but much progress has been made and I am proud of myself for taking this on. It was scary to look within and make the changes but its done and I am glad I chose this path. I suppose all this has led to a shift in the way I take care of my body. I seem to be automatically gravitating towards more physical activity, better diet and exercise routine.
8. Being myself- I learnt to embrace, accept myself and allow others to see me for who I am just the way I am. I don’t need to be anyone else. I am whole, I am complete, I am enough. Being myself has empowered me to believe in myself, have faith that things will work , follow my dreams and be true to myself. Andre Gide once said ,” Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.”
Here’s a quote from Solange Nicole that says it all, “A diamond doesn’t start out polished and shining. It once was nothing special, but with enough pressure and time, becomes spectacular. I am that diamond.”
©2015, Vani Murthy. All rights reserved