The greatest gift you can give yourself is unconditional love. In today’s world of social comparison, shifting goalposts and ever increasing competition, it’s easy to get lost in the plethora of self-judgment and criticism. But this kind of self-talk does not serve you. Most of the time, our inner critic stems from fear and fear is the opposite of love. Love is the tool that unlocks our limitless potential and without self-love, we hold ourselves back from an authentic relationship with life. This guide serves as a reminder of the immense power and importance of self-love and self-compassion. So what are the steps we need to take to get to where we want to be?
- Clean Up Your Emotional Environment
The emotional environment we create is like a garden. The different thoughts we have planted need different types of attention. Some need watering, some need weeding. To start the practice of self-love, we need to take stock of our emotional garden, remove toxic thoughts and plant fresh, wholesome ones. From here can we start the journey towards of self-compassion.
- Stop Comparing
Comparing ourselves to others only serves to make us feel less than. It is certainly not the way to go about loving the self. Once we stop comparing ourselves to others, room opens for us to study and support our only real benchmark: ourselves.
- Eliminate “Should” From Your Dictionary
The word ‘should’ sets us up for failure. When we eliminate should from our dictionary and replace it with ‘could’, it removes the pressure which inevitably leads to the militant in us.
- Practice Mindfulness
A moment taken to become aware of our breath, our thoughts and our current feeling state is all it takes to recentre. Mindfulness is a wonderful way to start the process of self-compassion by teaching us to become present. In this way we bring our thoughts back from the past and away from the future and into the current moment. Only in this way can we fully appreciate ourselves.
- Praise Every Little Accomplishment
Life is full of little victories. We can generate positivity from praising small accomplishments, not just the big ones. This means saying well done to ourselves after doing something for the first time. No matter how well or badly it went, being kind to the self and congratulating ones efforts leads to greater success in the future.
- Focus On Your Strengths
It’s easy to focus on weaknesses and everything “wrong” with ourselves. What about focusing on everything right with ourselves and see how that changes things? A great article by Forbes entitled How to Focus on Your Strengths Instead of Your Weaknesses shows us how to do this.
- Watch Your Inner Critic
Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself. Most of us have an inner critic operating 24/7 and we aren’t even aware of it. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before! To release the critic we need to catch it out. This means observing the negative evaluations we make of ourselves and without judgement, casting them away, setting them free. We become what we think about the most.
- Write Down Gratitudes
Gratitude is the biggest multiplier. Taking time to jot down what we are grateful for on a daily basis will increase the abundance which already exists in our life. What we say thank you for increases so say thank you for everything that is working in your life. Say thank you too, for the lessons from the past and what they taught you. If there is something bothering you, say thank you for what the situation has come to teach you, bless it with love and set it free. You will find the situation no longer happens or the person changes their behaviour.
- Nurture Yourself
Take time to rejuvenate by doing whatever it takes to treat yourself with extra care.
- Love Your Body, Your Mind and Your Soul
We are a whole; that is, nothing exists in a vacuum. Body is related to mind, mind is related to soul. We need to take care of each aspect of ourselves.
- Don’t Scold Yourself
Throughout the day, look out for moments where you beat yourself up for doing something “wrong”, disappointing a person or doing anything which falls short of your own expectations. Notice the reaction you have and if it is negative, replace it with a positive affirmation like “I am doing the best I can” or “every day in every way my life gets better and better”.
- Talk To Your Inner Child
Often the person who needs the most attention is the child within us. Speak to your inner child and ask it what it needs. These twelve steps should radically increase your self-love and self-compassion, enabling you to see the best version of yourself.