I believe self-love is key to healing. Our bodies respond to our thoughts and when we aren’t speaking lovingly to ourselves, we’re actually doing ourselves harm. Yet, when we take conscious steps to love ourselves, our body gets the message that it matters and we matter.
That point is really being driven home for me in the book I’m currently reading — The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. In this book he describes how our thoughts affect our bodies and when we practice self-love, our actions affect us on a cellular level. In other words loving ourselves can help us to stay healthy or even restore our health if we are sick.
Before I go into ways we can practice self-love, I want to describe what self-love isn’t. Here are some common ways that we betray ourselves by not practicing self-love and how we can fix the problem.
We never make time for the things we love to do.
I’m a lover of fiction, particularly mystery and suspenseful novels. Yet, I went through a period where I never had time to read. Instead, I was spending my time doing what others wanted me to do. I was working too much, never saying ‘no’ to clients, doing things for friends and family, and when I did have down time I was too tired to read fiction nor did I have the attention span because my mind was so cluttered.
The remedy for this: Put time on your calendar every day for something you love to do. Even if you spend 15 minutes a day listening to your favorite music or reading a novel, you are instilling in your subconscious mind that you always have time for the things that are important to you.
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We never have enough money for the things we want to do.
This is another one I was guilty of. While I always had enough money to take care of my bills and other obligations, I never seemed to have the money for the vacation I wanted to take or the expensive hobby I wanted to take up. Once I considered going back to school for a subject I am passionate about but I ruled out the idea because I felt like I needed to save my money for something else. I was very familiar with the advice ‘pay yourself first,’ and while it sounded good, it didn’t seem practical to me. In fact, I rarely had anything left over to save and ended up paying myself last.
The remedy for this: Literally pay yourself first. Take 10 percent, 5 percent or any set percentage and put that money aside from every check you receive for yourself. Once I started taking my money off the top, I was shocked to find I always had enough money to take care of everything else.
We always give in to others and let them have their way.
Do you tend to let others choose the restaurant whenever you go out? Or do you always watch the television program your partner wants to watch rather than insisting on seeing your favorite show? Do you think you are being polite by letting others call the shots or make the decisions? We all have preferences. And when you never exercise your preferences and instead let others decide what actions you will take, you are not exhibiting self-love. And if you do this all the time, I guarantee you that at some point you will grow resentful because you will feel like you’re always giving and never getting anything back in return. Sure, relationships are about give and take and it’s fine to sometimes let the other person lead or make the decision. But if you never give yourself the same courtesy, you aren’t giving yourself the love that you deserve. ‘
The remedy for this: The next time you do something with someone else, insist that you pick the location or what you end up doing. This is not the time to be indecisive. Decide what you want to do and go do it.
We act as martyrs, sacrificing ourselves to ‘save’ others.
If you’ve ever been the strong, responsible one who took care of everyone whenever they f’d things up, this might be you. Maybe you lent money you really couldn’t afford to lend. (Just because you have it doesn’t mean you won’t need it in the future; if your savings and investments are not robust, do you really have money to lend?) Or perhaps you were always there to do the hard things no one else wanted to do such as taking care of the aging parents while the other siblings went along with life. Whatever action you took, you took one for the team or sacrificed your own pleasure to do what others refused to do for themselves.
The remedy for this: The next time someone has an emergency, say you can’t help them. This one will be challenging, particularly if you’ve bought into the belief that you are only of value when you sacrifice for others.
We do things we don’t want to do or go places we don’t want to go.
How many times have you found yourself saying ‘yes’ to an invitation that you really wanted to decline? But then you went to the event anyway and were miserable. Sure there will be times when we will have to go places we don’t want to go, but it doesn’t have to happen on a regular basis. Being able to say ‘no’ just because you don’t want to do something is one of the greatest acts of self-love you can do. This can be particularly troubling for empaths who would prefer to avoid crowds but are guilted into going to certain types of events anyway.
The remedy for this: The next time someone invites you somewhere you don’t want to go, say no. Really. And yes, no is a complete sentence.
We talk negatively to ourselves.
Do you criticize yourself for choices you’ve made or imperfections you’ve honed in on? If so, you’re talking to yourself in a very non-loving way.
The remedy for this: I’m a big proponent of talking to yourself in front of a mirror. There is something about looking yourself in the eye while paying yourself a compliment that is inherently powerful. I’ve heard stories of people finding this difficult to do. Some can’t look themselves in the eye. Others don’t like to look in the mirror because they don’t like what they see. All I can say is take the effort to practice and I think you’ll find that it gets easier over time. Louise Hay is a big proponent of mirror talk and she recommends it throughout her classic book You Can Heal Your Life.