Mental Health Awareness Month Week 4: Learning to Love Yourself
I read a great quote by Charlie Chaplin that inspired me to inspire you on those days when you are feeling sad and depressed. Here is the quote:
“As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health; food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first, I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “Love of Oneself”.
Learning to love yourself can seem pretty daunting, but well worth the adventure. Here are some steps for a self-healing process that leads to learning to love yourself.
Step 1: Feel your pain and be responsible for your feelings.
Believe it or not your feelings are telling you information about you that you need to know. They let us know if we are loving ourselves or abandoning ourselves. They can also tell us if others are being loving or controlling in our lives. This first step is about running toward your feelings and not away from them. Be fully aware of your breathing and embrace your current emotions. Do not feed them with self-abandonment or judgment or even worse addictions to food, alcohol or drugs to numb the feelings. Take the time to actually become comfortable and acknowledge and accept the way you feel. This is you becoming responsible for your feelings and it is invigorating!
To do this you can grab a journal and daily write down your feelings, thoughts and emotions. Do not judge yourself for what you write, but just write them down and become familiar with them. A great tool to use is the Emotions Wheel since it expands on all the emotions. You may feel sad, but when you look at the wheel you can expand and see that you may really be feeling hurt or guilty. Once you can determine the proper feeling, you will have more control over the feelings.
Let me know how you have recently felt your pain and became responsible for your feelings. If you haven’t done this exercise in your life, I challenge you to try it and let me know how it makes you feel.
Step #2: Love to learn the “why.”
In order to learn how to love yourself, there are two possible intentions:
1. To protect yourself from feeling the pain, you avoid responsibility and use addictive or controlling behaviors such as cigarettes, food, alcohol or hard drugs.
2. To take the time and learn what you are doing or thinking that may be causing the pain in the first place. What is happening between you and another person or situation that you can take responsibility for and then be able to move forward in taking a loving action on your own behalf.
This is a critical step in learning to love yourself more and can be daunting. Take a moment and really sit with your thoughts and the pain they are causing you. Make the decision to change your thought pattern by stating, “Mind reset, reframe that!” Turn the negative self-talk into a more positive “it could happen if I just did this…”
Step #3: Discover your false beliefs.
This is a very deep and compassionate part of the process of exploring and learning about your beliefs and how they are influencing your behavior. It also helps you better understand a situation with a person that may be causing you so much pain.
In order to do this, you must take time to be with yourself in stillness. Take time to practice some deep breathing. Inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of two and exhale for a count of four ten times and then check in with yourself. Ask your inner child – “What am I thinking or doing that is causing these feelings of anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, loneliness, depression or emptiness?” Allow the answer to come to you organically.
When you understand what you are thinking or doing that’s causing the feelings, then you can explore why those fears are popping up and the false beliefs that lead to the self-abandoning thoughts, feelings and actions.
If you find that you are feeling lonely, helpless or sad on a regular basis, ask yourself what is happening, or not happening, that is causing the feelings. Sometimes, you just need to go out and meet up with some friends, or take a walk in the sunshine, or play with a neighbors’ dog to get a boost of that oxytocin hormone and happy hormone.
Step #4: Talk with your higher self.
Taking time to connect with your higher self is a great way to get some free guidance. Become open to learning how to do this on a daily basis and love what pops up for you. Sit quietly and do the breathwork of inhaling for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of two and exhale for a count of four for ten times. Once you are in a calm state, ask your higher self, “What can I do to help bring me more joy?” You may get the answers in words, images, dreams or an unexpected phone call from a friend.
Your higher self always knows what is best for you, but you need to become aware and open to the idea of trusting yourself and your own guidance. Your intuition is your inner higher self. Tap into this intuition to better guide what you need in your life.
Step #5: Act on what you learned in step four.
You’ve opened up to your pain. You’ve learned what thoughts and feelings you tend to go to. You’ve started a dialogue with your feelings and have learned how to tap into your spiritual guidance and inner intuition. Now, you can take the loving actions you need to help heal the shame, lessen your anxiety and support your depression.
What do you do to love yourself? Do you take yourself out to lunch once a week or once a month? Do you go for a daily walk around the park, lake or to a friends’ house? Do you indulge in a manicure, pedicure or massage monthly? Do you spend quality time with friends who make you laugh?
Instead of thinking “How can I FEEL love for myself?” switch it to “What can I DO to love myself more?” Make time to do something that brings you joy every single day. Start a gratitude journal and every day write down three things that you are grateful for and one thing that you accomplished. You will be blown away at how much your mind and body will change just after one week of doing a gratitude journal.
Step #6: Assess your actions.
Once you discover what loving actions feel good to you, check in with your pain, shame, guilt and anger levels and see if they are lower and getting healed. If some are still painful, go back through the steps until you figure out the truth about the feelings and what loving action may bring peace and closure. You want a deep sense of joy and intrinsic worth and that may mean eliminating toxic people and situations from your life. Your joy is number one and your happiness is number one, take whatever means you need to make sure you are number one in your life.
It will take time, practice and perseverance so stay the course and keep going. Over time, you will see how offering yourself more love and appreciation will change and improve everything in your life. You will see happier relationships, better health and well-being as well as things going in the right direction for you.
Being able to love and connect with yourself on a daily basis is key to being able to be more connected with others and creating deeper relationships. Loving yourself will raise your frequency and co-create with spirit, meaning you will attract happier, healthier people into your life. Loving yourself is key to creating a life filled with love, laughter, joy and fulfillment.