NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, The Healing Project. It outlines the final three key principles from “You Can Heal Your Life.”
“We must be willing to learn to love ourselves.”
Many years ago, I first heard the saying, “You can’t love anyone else unless you love yourself first.” At the time, I despised this saying and vehemently disagreed with its sentiments. Although I was clear that I didn’t love myself much back then, I believed that I was a loving person and fully capable of loving others. Now I am much more open to the message, except that I would qualify the saying by adding the word fully, as in “one cannot love another fully unless he loves himself.” If we are mired in self-criticism and self-hatred, there is much less of ourselves to give to others, which makes us less able to love others to full capacity.
Yet, the ability to love others fully is only one reason for us to love ourselves. When we treat ourselves with loving kindness, we experience a number of other benefits. These benefits include:
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased inner peace
- Improved relationships
- Enhanced health and well-being
Notice that this principle includes two key words, willing and learn. For those of us who have not loved ourselves for many, many years, it probably won’t happy overnight. We need to learn to treat ourselves more kindly, much like we would need to learn a new language or the tasks for a new job. It’s a process and it takes time. However, the key is to be willing to learn, whether it’s learning a new language or a new way of reacting toward oneself. If we are open and willing to a new way of being, the learning process will flow much more smoothly.
Louise Hay is a big advocate of the use of affirmations. One affirmation which she uses often is, “I am willing to change.” A variant on this affirmation could be, “I am willing to learn to love myself” or simply, “I am willing to love myself.” Affirmations really do help! When I find myself engaging in negativity, I often snap myself out of that mindset by repeating a simple affirmation several times inside my head. Give it a try… You might not notice a difference overnight, but I promise you, it will help!
Start with the willingness to love yourself and build from there. The first step is always the most difficult. Take that first step and see how you grow and blossom over time.
“Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the keys to positive changes.”
We have all made mistakes in the past. None of us are perfect and I’m sure that if we could turn back the clock, knowing what we know now, we would make different decisions and act in alternate ways. This key asks us to stop looking back and stop berating ourselves for our past failings. It asks us to stand firmly in the now with an attitude of “I approve of myself” and “I am okay.” With this positive attitude, we are better prepared to move forward and to make the changes we want to make in our lives.
Would you feed yourself or your child a meal on one of last night’s dirty dishes? Of course not! Well, working on creating a new future on top of the “muck” of berating yourself for your past wrongs is akin to eating a delicious meal from a dirty dish. It just wouldn’t taste as good!
We need to let go of the past and focus on what we want to create in our lives. We cannot change the past, so it does virtually no good to ruminate upon it. The only time when past reflection is productive is when we are looking for lessons to apply moving forward. Otherwise, let the past go. Embrace yourself and your life today, set powerful goals for yourself, and work on accomplishing them from a space of self-acceptance and self-approval.
I know this can be easier said than done, but as with the previous key, it begins from an attitude of willingness. Be willing to approve of yourself and willing to accept yourself. Use affirmations to help you along the way. The exercises in “You Can Heal Your Life” and other related teachings will help tremendously.
Being able to accept, approve of, and love ourselves is an ongoing process. I have definitely made a lot of progress in this regard, but I still have my days when I am highly self-critical. It is at those times that I recommit to being willing to change, and I move forward as best I can.
I remember one of the powerful tenets from “The Four Agreements,” which is Always Do Your Best. Our best isn’t always the same. Some days our best means simply that we get out of bed, whereas our best on other days leads to tremendous accomplishments. But if we commit to always doing our best and being willing to accept and love ourselves, all things are possible.
“When we really love ourselves, everything in our life works.”
Self-love is a critical facet of “the Healing Project.” As we move forward in healing our lives, we will work on learning to love ourselves more and on being more gentle and accepting toward ourselves. As we look at the probable thought patterns for a host of common health challenges, we’ll notice that these patterns are highly negative and destructive. When we are able to turn these thought patterns around and replace them with more empowering and positive thoughts, miracles will start to happen in our lives. We will start to feel better physically, we’ll have a more genuinely cheerful disposition, we’ll have more “good days,” our relationships will improve, and we’ll attract better outcomes for our life endeavors. Quite simply, our lives will work much better.
Don’t you want to have a life that works better? I know I do. I used to try to climb an uphill battle to a better life, all the while driving myself with all the sensitivity of a drill sergeant. That approach didn’t get me what I wanted, so I’m willing to try another avenue. I am willing to step into the belief that when I really love myself, everything in my life will work.