In the past, I found it rather perplexing whenever I read Mark 12:31 in the Bible which states, “The second is this, Have love for your neighbor as for yourself. There is no other law greater than these.” (BBE) This verse assumes that you love yourself.
However, for those of us who grew up hearing negative messages or surrounded by household conflicts, we may not possess the self-love that we need to take care of ourselves. What does it mean to love yourself? Truly loving yourself means that you accept and appreciate all of you. You are fine the way you are. There is nothing wrong with you.
When you love yourself, you are open and truthful with yourself. You do not avoid knowing yourself. You are not afraid of yourself. You love yourself without conditions. You do not have to be perfect, despite what many of us have been taught. Perfectionism is not a trait of humanity. We were meant to have our shortcomings. It is all a part of being human.
Loving yourself allows you to speak up for you. It is the foundation for internal peace and joy. Self-love enables us to attract and build loving relationships. It allows us to connect with our own feelings and emotions. It allows us to stay connected and not detach into numbness.
Self-love was huge for me. I had to take conscious, detailed steps to learn how to love myself. These are the steps that helped me get on the path to self-love:
- Get to know yourself. Pay attention to what you say and do. Write it down in a journal. Do you see any patterns? Where do these patterns come from? Notice your physical movements and expressions. Record things you like and don’t like in your daily life. Make a conscious effort to be fully aware and present as you move through the day.
- Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in the past. Self-forgiveness was very difficult for me – which goes back to trying to be perfect! I could forgive others a lot easier than I could forgive myself. I had to finally accept that I did not get a free pass when it came to human error!
- Treat yourself the way you treat others. Give yourself compliments. Don’t beat up on yourself when things go wrong. You would never call a friend “stupid “ because she made a left turn when she should have turned right. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Give yourself what you need.
- I learned the following tool from Louise Hay, an American motivational author and founder of Hay House, an outstanding publishing company.
- When you get up in the morning, go to your bathroom mirror. (You can take care of some basic tasks first!)
- Look deeply into your eyes and smile. Think to yourself – What a beautiful, relaxed person.
- Say out loud, “Good morning, (your name). I love you. I really, really, love you. There are great experiences coming our way today.”
- Next, say something nice about yourself. Sometimes, I say, “You have a beautiful smile.” Other times I may say, “You are doing a great job taking care of yourself!”
Remember: Never give up! You were meant to thrive!