When we think of love, we often think of happily ever after. An ideal we learned as small children watching Disney’s fairytale movies. Our happiness is often linked to love from another where we look for acceptance, understanding, and a sense of belonging.
But surely, it's important to love ourselves too? If we can learn to love and accept who we are, we will be better placed to love others deeply, too. When we don’t love ourselves, we can fall prey to negative emotions like envy and resentment. Now, that’s not to say that if you don’t love yourself, no one will love you, of course not! Often, it’s our partner, family, and friends who see our best qualities clearer than we do, but relationships built on a foundation of self-love will likely be stronger than those built on a need for love from others.
In Mo Gawdat’s book Solve for Happy he writes, ‘studies show that only 4 percent of women in Western societies believe they are beautiful, and more than 60 percent believe they need to be thinner to deserve to be loved!’ Changing the way you see yourself and learning to love who you are can lead to a happier, more positive outlook on life and your relationships. Here are 3 exercises to help you boost your self-love.
Your Pros and Your Cons
We love our children, and often our family, unconditionally but do you love yourself unconditionally too? Try writing a list of the things you love about yourself and the things you don’t, a list of pros and cons if you will. Now, imagine your favourite person in the whole world. If this list of cons was describing them, you would still love them, right? Could you start to strike off some of those things on the cons list because you’re being too tough on yourself? Self-esteem and self-worth can come from challenging your negative self-doubts. We love our family and friends regardless, so isn’t it about time you loved yourself that way too?
Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.
Treat Yourself Like Your Best Friend
Imagine your best friend was going through a tough time, you would shower them with positivity, wouldn’t you? You would offer to help make their life easier in any way you could. You would nurture and support them.
If you have children, you ensure that they get enough sleep, are fed, watered, and have the right medicine when they’re not well, you nurture their spirit and support them. But do you do these things for yourself? Think of kind things you could do for yourself this week, and do them. It could be scheduling time for yoga, getting enough sleep, or taking time out for a relaxing bath or to read a book.
Acknowledge That Loving Feelings Ebb and Flow
Even our spouses, children, and closest friends annoy us sometimes, but we often let those moments pass with little judgement.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Sometimes you will find your own self annoying, sometimes you’ll say or do things and wonder ‘what were you thinking?’. If you find yourself dwelling on those moments and being hard on yourself, letting your inner critic run wild, stop. Learn from it and move on. In fact, why not try these mindfulness tips to help you live more in the moment?.
And Remember, Giving Love Is Important Too
Once you start to be kinder to yourself, to love who you are, then you will be able to find it in yourself to give true love to others. If you give, you get back. The act of giving love can take on many different forms: kindness, empathy and compassion towards others and strangers. And when you start spread and multiply goodness beyond your own circle of life, that’s when you can really experience true, well-rounded love. Love is the glue of all things positive, it’s the essence of life: without love, life is not meaningful.
Want more happiness-boosting exercises? Join the Rituals Happiness Challenge, with Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy. It’s a 14-day interactive journey that will transform your life and help you find true, long-lasting happiness.
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