How committed are you to your own happiness? If you were dating yourself, would you be blissful or ready to break out of the relationship? Self-love is an active process of becoming aware of who you are and appreciating all aspects of what makes you unique. It is a practice of self-care and self-compassion that affirms, “I Am Worthy.” Nurturing yourself is imperative to what I call personal sustainability. Here’s how to step up the love:
1. Honor your own time — How often have you stood yourself up? Maybe you promised yourself a spa day and you keep pushing it off. Perhaps you wanted to go to the gym and instead did something you really didn’t want to do for someone else. One way to love yourself is to make your “me” time a priority. Give yourself the same level of respect you give others. Say “no” to things that don’t feed your spirit so you can say “yes” to the things that really matter.
2. Whisper “sweet somethings” — The question I often ask my coaching clients is, “Would you talk to your best friend or sweetheart the way you talk to yourself?” Probably not! Pay attention to your internal chatter. You talk to youself more than you talk to anyone else, so your “inner me” can become an “enemy” very fast if your language is negative and self-effacing. Love yourself by replacing the “language losers,” like “I can’t,” “but,” and “never,” with words that are positive and affirming.
3. Fuel your dreams — Do you have the clarity and energy to fulfill your destiny? We each have special gifts to share with the world and a level of awesomeness inherent in our being. It’s challenging for that greatness to reveal itself and manifest fully if your mind is clouded and your body is weighed down. Taking care of yourself — paying attention to how you eat, drink, exercise, sleep and breathe — will prepare you to achieve your dreams.
4. Be present — Are you here or there? It might sound trite but life is to be lived now. Planning is important — it helps you reach your goals. However, sometimes we get so caught up in “what will be” that we overlook “what is.” If you ever find your mind running ahead of time it is helpful to pause, take a deep breath and say to yourself “be here now.” This practice can serve as a reminder to slow down and be a witness to life.
5. Actively seek joy… every day — Are you experiencing at least one instance of pure joy every day? If not, it’s time to start claiming it! Be the source of your own joy — don’t wait for something or someone to provide it. Take note from ancient cultures and offer a prayer, sing a song, or do a dance to greet the new morning. Throughout the day, ask yourself, “How can I find joy in this moment?” You may be in the midst of chaos, but still ask the question. In the asking, you’ll find an answer — an answer so simple that it in itself may make you smile.
6. Surround yourself with positive people — Would you rather be with someone who is uplifting or someone who drags you down? It’s not a trick question. Sometimes we forget that we have a choice. You can decide who you invite into your inner circle. Choose people who support your dreams. If there is someone you relate to on a regular basis who is toxic, then charge your positive batteries to prepare for those encounters.
7. Let go — What are you holding onto that may be holding you back? Holding on to unproductive emotions — such as guilt, shame, fear and anger — is fertile ground for even more dysfunctional feelings to grow, such as regret, pain, obsessive thinking, and bitterness. Let it go. Learn from experiences and move on. Forgive others. Most of all, forgive your Self for any “should haves.” Self-compassion is the foundation of self-love.
How you view and treat yourself influences how others view and treat you. Make a commitment to loving yourself unconditionally, and you will expand your capacity to give and receive love.
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard-trained strategist, digital consultant and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She helps companies operate more efficiently and individuals live more effectively through her company Power Living Enterprises. A seasoned yoga/mindfulness teacher and executive/life coach, she is also an internationally-recognized voice in Personal Empowerment, Leadership and Health & Sustainability. In addition, she is the co-author (with her mom, Columbia University-trained journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy) of Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master – an inspirational memoir on 96-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch.
Article originally published in The Huffington Post.
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