Accepting and Loving Ourselves – the Key to True Well-being
I truly believe that everything in our lives is directly affected by how much we accept and love ourselves.
In my experience, women are particularly hard on themselves and find it difficult to accept themselves as they are. Research shows that people who criticize and judge themselves tend to criticize and judge others as well.
Most woman tell me that once they have lost a few kilos, or they have reached a certain milestone, they will be happier, and then it will then be easier to accept themselves as they are.
Why is it so difficult to love ourselves?
Why is it so hard for us to believe the books, experts and centuries-old wisdom that tell us that we are so much more than we think and feel we are?
Why can’t we accept our strengths and weaknesses and love ourselves as we are, right now, today? I know that these are not easy questions, but here are some ideas I have developed on this subject:
- Our experiences don’t match our expectations – what we have been trained to expect from life.
- We tend to pay more attention to negative experiences than positive ones.
- We hold onto the negative experiences and create negative beliefs around them.
- We don’t trust ourselves.
Here are some ideas that could help you improve your image of yourself.
You probably have heard the expression, “Treat your body like a temple.” We only have one body. Treat it with respect and it will give back to you a thousand-fold. Looking after yourself will help you respect yourself.
Nourish your body with good food (not indulging*), keep it working with regular exercise and stretching (e.g. Yoga) and treat it to a massage every now and then. Give your body enough sleep, and some time out, so it can relax and de-stress. Treat your body well – it deserves it!
Part of respecting yourself is doing work you love. If it isn’t practical to leave your current job just yet, you could start planning for a job that you are passionate about. It is difficult to love yourself while you do a job for 40 hours a week that you are not passionate about.
Developing new skills like a language or art is a way of boosting your self-esteem and brain power.
Think about what qualities and behaviour you admire and like in others. Is it kindness, honesty, patience, thoughtfulness? Now is a good time to cultivate these qualities in yourself; by doing this you will earn your own respect, and that of others. Practice at least one act of kindness every day.
It is just as important to respect others as it is ourselves. Treating others well and giving them the respect they deserve is one of the kindest things we can do – for them and us.
Forgive yourself and others
Do you hold on to grudges? It isn’t good for you and it doesn’t help anybody. Letting go of that negative energy can be very liberating and healing.
The more we are grateful for everything we have in our lives, the more we invite other positive things into our lives. Try and find three things you are truly grateful for every day. Have a little quiet reflection time (maybe with taking a few deep breaths) at the beginning or the end of the day and writing it down can be very helpful. Research shows that being grateful for what we have can create an inner peace and happiness.
Learn to trust yourself and others
The greatest gift you can give, to yourself or others, is to trust. People usually mean well and want to help you. Trust others and allow them to help you. If you can learn to let go of a little bit of control, you will find it easier to trust others.
Comprehensive research, by the medical schools of the University of Massachusetts and Oxford University in England, shows that practicing mindfulness can help us develop love and kindness towards ourselves and others. It’s a simple practice that everyone can do. Watch out for my coming yoga/mindfulness retreat on my website and my new mindfulness courses in 2016.
Love is action.
Self-love is not just how you feel about yourself. It’s mostly about what you do for yourself. You can only love yourself by doing, not thinking. Practice acts of love and respect, for your own benefit. Self-love is an act and gift of kindness to you.
Life will be easier for you and have a positive flow if you learn to let your guard down occasionally. Life isn’t meant to be difficult. Life is meant to flow in an easy way and when you are ready to let go you will experience a whole new life – an amazing life full of blessings.
Best wishes and blessings.
* Please don’t confuse indulging with self-love. A lot of people seem to think indulging or treating yourself is the same as loving yourself. Finding a reward and indulging in it is not love. Comforting yourself does not mean loving yourself. Be aware of this; seeking comfort is often a response to fear, not love.