Have you ever heard the suggestion that you should “love yourself” but wondered what that practically looks like on a day to day basis? Sometimes this advice is interpreted as trying to treat or think better about ourselves, such as taking better care of our body or not putting ourselves down.
While these actions are all helpful they do have their limitations. Thinking better about our self, for instance, is quite challenging because while we can influence our thinking patterns we don’t actually have much control (if any) over our thinking. Try to stop thinking for just 1 minute or for even 5 for that matter and you will see what I mean.
Treating ourselves poorly such as pushing ourselves too hard or abusing our physical body is typically driven by underlying negative emotions which in turns fuels our thinking patterns which motivates our actions.
“Positive change is blocked”
Often these emotions are unconscious and so if we have little success in treating ourselves better then this is because we are acting from a deeper negative layer within us. We are not able to make a positive change because our behaviours and habits are a reaction to these negative emotions, and a reaction by definition is not a conscious choice. In such situations, trying to choose a better set of behaviours often fails because on a deeper layer we have somehow already decided on a set of actions in reaction to some unprocessed negative emotional energy.
While I encourage people to treat themselves better where possible, there is a more fundamental and effective way to love ourselves.
Lets change the perspective for a moment and ask the question “How do you know when you are loved?”
As children, most of us wanted attention from our parents/guardians. We wanted them to notice us, spend time with us and most importantly be there for us. Generally the same holds true for our significant partners and friendships in our life. How do we know our partner loves us, well they want to spend lots of time with us, and on a daily basis they give us time and attention and we feel they will be there for us when we need them.
“Attention is wanted”
This is how we have generally grown up understanding when we are loved, so, how do we truly love ourselves as we expect others to love us?
Just as others gives us attention, we need to be there with our self, to give our self attention and to notice our self, not that this means we need to be alone or practise meditation (although these activities can be beneficial).
“Be there for self”
To be there with our self simply means we need to be in our body and feel our feelings, all of them, all the time. For when we are feeling our feelings we are not running away from aspects of our self, we not abandoning our self in any way and we are giving our self lots of attention because we are present with our feelings.
As simple as that may seem many of us have constructed distractions or habits such as over working, closing our hearts to our feelings or using substances such as alcohol to avoid our feelings. For when we routinely use distractions or habits to avoid our feelings, it’s as if a part of us is no longer in the body, energetically speaking.
For when we are truly in our body then we are able to feel it and all the emotions which reside in the body. Conversely if we are avoiding our feelings we must separate ourselves on some level from the body in order not to feel the feelings, which means we are abandoning ourselves, which is to say we are not loving our self.
“Loving Our Self is Feeling Self”
By feeling we are in fact closely attentive with our self, which is the same as loving our self. As we feel more we clear more of our emotional negativity, allowing us to feel even more of ourselves, which in turns allows us to be more aligned with our true nature. And as we begin to clear away our old stuff, the easier it is and more natural it is for us to treat ourselves better and take better care of our body.
“The love your deserve”
In short, love yourself by giving yourself the attention you deserve, feel your feelings.
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Published: February 2020