There is a famous song by Whitney Houston about loving ourselves that is often heard in Karaoke Bars up and down the country being sung mainly by people who are struggling to even like themselves.
“The greatest love of all is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”
Why is it so difficult to love ourselves? We expect other people to love us from our parents, siblings, friends and partners, but if I had to ask you to stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love the majority of people would not just find it difficult but would be unable to do it.
I believe the main reason it is so difficult is that we are not brought up to love ourselves and we would at best be thought a little strange if we told people how much we loved ourselves. We would be considered a narcissist which is defined in the dictionary as:
“A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves” and even more unkindly as
“narcissists think the world revolves around them”
The problem with these negative definitions is that we believe that being someone who loves themselves is all bad and so we head off in the opposite direction to prove that we definitely don’t love ourselves, instead we love everyone else, animals, nature, the world, but no, we could not possibly love ourselves.
The funny thing is that once we learn to love ourselves we find it so much easier to love everyone else. So where do we begin on this journey?
- Positive Affirmations:
The best place to start is to stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself how much you care about the person you see. Make sure you speak the words in a caring voice. An example could be:
“I love you completely and I care about you”
“Today it going to be the best day of my life”
“You are beautiful inside and out”
2. Learn about nutrition:
I don’t mean go on a diet. I mean learn about what foods feed the body with the proper nutrients to allow your body to heal itself, to feel good and improve your health. If you can afford to eat only organic food which will help to minimise the chemicals that your body has to work at eliminating from your body. Some tips I would give but there are plenty of books on nutrition available
- Start the meal with vegetable and think what will go with the vegetables
- Eat Organic
- Eat fresh food
- Don’t buy pre-prepared food
- Don’t eat anything that has more than 5 ingredients – after 5 the rest is probably just chemicals and unlikely to be food.
- Drink at least 2 litres of water a day
This is so important to mind and body health that we should exercise on a daily basis. Choose an exercise or sport that you enjoy and even if you don’t enjoy it at first tell yourself you do. Remember your brain does not know if you are lying or telling the truth. So, tell yourself that “I absolutely love running, it makes me feel happier, fitter, less stressed”. Your brain will believe you whether it’s true or not. Don’t say “I hate running, it makes me feel sore, I don’t have the time, I can’t do it, I am rubbish at it…….” Because your brain will also believe you and you will give up and justify it by telling yourself you were rubbish anyway, because that is what you told yourself to believe.
4. Self Massage:
You may be lucky enough to have a partner who enjoys giving you a massage, but this is about self love and that comes from understanding our minds and our bodies. I would recommend that you do this every day preferable in the morning before you shower. It can take as little or as long as you have, so don’t make lack of time an excuse. Choose a massage oil that you like for example Avocado Oil, Caster Oil or Almond Oil and use on its own or add a few drops of your favourite essential essence. You might want to add a few drops of lavender oil if you have a stressful day in front of you.
Massage the oil over your body pay attention to the feet and the head. If you are not washing your hair then don’t massage the scalp. Massage with long up and down movements on the limbs and circular movements on the knees and elbow. If you are really short of time focus on the feet and head. If you have the time then leave the oil on while you meditate for 10 minutes before showering it off and notice how much better you feel in both your mind and body.
Meditation is wonderful for giving yourself time everyday to stop all the chatter in the mind and allow you to drop inside yourself to find the answers to all those little questions that you worry about day in and day out. It is recommended that you meditate twice a day, and if you have never meditated before start with maybe 10 minutes and you can build up. There are many books on meditation and many ways to do it, so my suggestion below is only one.
Before you start you might want to ask yourself a question, if there is something in your life that is bothering you and you are torn between two choices. Our brain loves to answer questions and in this quiet time, free from other interruption the answer can become very clear to us.
- Sit in a chair, make sure your back is supported but your head is free. You don’t want the head supported as you may fall asleep
- Start by focusing on your breathing and notice your breath as it enters your nostrils and then breath out and again notice your breath and become curious about it.
- Continue breathing in and out and allow yourself to breath naturally.
- You can then say to yourself:
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be at peace
Then say the same for all the people in you life that you love and care about e.g.
May Alan be happy
May Alan be healthy
May Alan be at peace
After this say the same to any people who have hurt you. Remember that harbouring grudges does no good whatsoever.
As Malachy McCourt once said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Why not keep a notebook of all 5 suggestions and each day that you do even one of the 5 then put a tick next to it on the list? Our brains like to achieve things and ticking off a list is another way of feeling good about ourselves.