Image by D Sharon Pruitt, used under a Creative Commons licence.
You may have read or heard people talk about how loving yourself is such an important part of changing and reaching for your dreams.
I thoroughly concur.
But for a long time I didn’t understand the process, I couldn’t work out how what I thought was ‘being selfish’ could actually help other people. Surely it was all about ME - that was the whole problem.
Why is learning to love yourself is so important?
I now know that when I love myself first, I bring something beautiful that everyone responds to.
When I love myself, I become me in the 'HD version', I operate at my highest, most wonderful, fulfilling level and I can’t help but spill over with joy. I radiate the love that I give myself, it multiplies and vibrates out of me.
Yet, I know that, when I first considered acting on it, my thoughts challenged me.
It didn’t seem right to me that looking after myself could benefit anyone else. Some of us were taught that loving ourselves, that is; being gentle, kind, forgiving, treating ourselves as if we were a very dear friend (for we are!), is tantamount to arrogance and self-centredness - ugly, damaging attitudes.
That not going to parties will disappoint people and losing touch with people makes us a bad friend.
That it's selfish to spend money on a ’treat’ for ourselves, just to have fun, or to make ourselves feel beautiful.
That there should be a reason for something - be it educational, transactional or achieving a goal, rather than pure pleasure.
That there’s lots of things we SHOULD do, and then, after everyone else is taken care of, THEN we can see about ourselves.
We feel guilty for even considering not going to a birthday party, because our diary is already full for that week or because we want time for ourselves.
We learn we should put our work first and our happiness second. If we can achieve something, we should.
We feel wrong spending money on clothes or good food, because we are aware that so many people in the world don’t have enough. We feel as though we don’t deserve wealth AND love.
We feel that when we have money, spending it on ourselves is the ultimate in self-satisfaction and pleasing the self should always come last.
But I’ve learnt that when I choose to care for myself like I would care for a friend, even if it feels strange and perhaps uncomfortable at first, I notice a shift in how I live. When we consciously choose to look after our needs and wants, we have more insight into what we need to be at our best.
We choose better for ourselves. We respect our time, energy levels and money, and we benefit. We don’t overload our schedules and our work improves. People understand us better and respond to us in a different way.
Part of this process that we find the most difficult is knowing what to SAY to other people: and practicing saying no is a good way to start loving yourself.
‘No’ to the meeting on one day so you have the time you need to get things done. Yes, you COULD do the meeting then, but loving yourself is giving yourself plenty of time to do it excellently: the way you want to do it.
'No' to the colleague who asks you to do a small task when you’re packing up for the day. Saying no, even though you know it’ll only take you 5 minutes and they’ll be really pleased with you.
‘No’ to the friend who always wants a lift to the station - because it’s the only day you have to spend time on your own. Sure, ‘Yes’ would be helpful, ‘Yes' is what you always say and ‘Yes' would be the easier option as she’s not used to you not falling in with her plans, but ‘No’ is the most loving thing for you.
All sorts of thoughts come up.
If I say no, they’ll think I don’t care about them.
If I say no, they’ll think I’m not committed.
If I say no, they’ll be angry with me.
When we are faced with a decision and we want to say ‘No’ but we end up saying 'Yes', we might feel a nudge from deep within us. That’s the part of you that dreams of a different life. That’s the part of you that whispers gently, 'You dream of living this way, honour it.'
I’m creating a course all about how to increase your own self love so if you'd like to be on the early bird list to hear about it, sign up for my Sunday Brunch newsletter here. Plus you'll get a copy of my ebook; Know Thyself, Dream the Dream for free.