BY ANDREA LEWIS MARCH 16, 2015
Have you been looking for true love, and have yet to succeed, but still hang on to the belief that he or she is out there? Most likely you’ve been looking in all of the wrong places — at work, online, church, your yoga studio, or the grocery store.
It’s not that he or she doesn’t exist or that you’ll never find your soul mate. Intellectually you probably know that you’ve got to love yourself first to give and receive love. But it’s so much easier to look to others to give you what you aren’t giving yourself — love.
If you looked in the mirror, deep within your eyes, would you be able to say aloud, “I love you, I really love you [insert your name].” Could you look at yourself long enough without being critical? (Could you even look in the mirror comfortably?)
If these questions, or if the idea of staring at yourself in the mirror makes you slightly uncomfortable, I get it! But the point of this exercise is that when you love yourself, you create a strong foundation for you best relationships.
How we feel about ourselves is always going to be reflected back to us. So if we’re not feeling the self-love and we’re not talking or treating ourselves lovingly, it’s guaranteed that someone is going to remind you to love yourself via challenging relationships or seemingly difficult people or toxic situations.
No doubt they are going to peeve you and it’s very easy to blame, judge and criticize the other person. But they’re not only teaching you to love yourself, they are also teaching you to be kind to yourself and to respect yourself.
When you can align your thoughts with your beliefs and act accordingly, your relationships are going to reflect a healthy relationship with SELF.
This can be challenging, especially if we’ve grown up in a dysfunctional environment where we learned that if we wanted to “get” love we had to sacrifice our needs, wants and desires. Instead of feeling loved, we find ourselves in patterns where we feel unappreciated and emotionally depleted.
But it’s time to stop looking “out there” and look within because love begins with SELF. Like anything new and unfamiliar it will take some time and patience to love and accept yourself despite your mistakes, flaws and the messes you create. Here are some baby steps to get you there:
1. Set healthy boundaries.
Say no with tact, grace and dignity instead of saying yes to please others. We’ve been taught to be nice, but for many of us, our niceness has cost us our energy, time and our wellbeing.
We also need to speak up and tell the other person, “You know when you said…. I felt….”
Setting healthy boundaries takes practice and belief that you deserve to be respected.
2. Express yourself.
Do something you love — paint, draw, write, garden, cook, exercise, walk in nature or whatever it is that keeps you in the present moment. Schedule at least 30 minutes daily. By expressing yourself you connect with the most important person: you!
3. Monitor your words and your thoughts.
Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend. If you’re talking negatively or berating yourself, ask yourself: would you accept that from someone else? Probably not! A more positive way of talking to yourself matters because you matter! Not only will it be more uplifting, it will raise your self-esteem.
4. Listen to your body.
When your body needs rest, rest. When your body needs to be nourished, eat. And when your body needs to move, exercise. It’s simple, but it’s not easy! We tend to get busy, do things on the run, and give to others first.
By listening to your body, you’ll feel more alert and energized to say yes to you. This will give you more time to do what you love, and be more mindful of your words and thoughts. You’ll be less dependent upon other people for love because you’ll be giving it to yourself.
So the next time you look in the mirror, embrace yourself without judgment and show yourself some love. Your best relationships begin with this.