Do you ever do things that don't feel very good but that you think you should be doing anyway--to be a good person or to do the right thing? I get it--I just described most of my teens and twenties. The problem with behaving in ways that don't feel good is that you are not valuing yourself. We get so wrapped up in being the good daughter or the perfect employee or the helpful citizen that we lose sight of our own needs and desires. That is the ultimate devaluing practice. The consequences are far reaching; we may feel depressed, unfulfilled, anxious, bitter, resentful or just plain exhausted.
Here are three ways that you may not be valuing yourself and exercises that you can do to practice self-love instead:
1. Constant Improvements. If you are like me, you enjoy the practice of self-improvement and personal development. However, we can fall into the trap where we get so determined to improve this and improve that, that we don't stop and say, "This feeling is ok" or "I'm ok the way I am. Yes, I want to grow and evolve but I am perfect the way I am right now." You are ok the way you are--no matter what flaws you feel that you have. All your feelings are ok. Come from that place and move forward. Exercise: Write down all the things you want to improve about yourself and then write down beside each one, "I love this flaw. I love myself no matter what." Repeat these out loud. When you start to feel more loving towards yourself then you can move on to expanding into the new.
2. Holding back for others. You're a loving and compassionate person. That doesn't mean that you need to stay where you are because others are in a certain stage in their life. It may be scary to change and grow when others around you aren't, but there is nothing scarier than stagnation and wasting your precious life. Ask yourself--what will happen if my loved ones stay where they are and I evolve into my greatest potential? Will they walk away? Will they be angry, jealous or resentful? Will they reject me? I have relatives that no longer talk to me because they were so uncomfortable with my spiritual and personal growth. It was damn painful. But ultimately I came to the realization that I'm living my life, not theirs. On the other hand, I've bonded more than ever with other loved ones. The bottom line is that making others comfortable is a terrible trap and you're the one who will suffer the most. Exercise: Make a declaration in your journal: "As I grow, I invite others to grow. As I shine my light, I invite others to shine their light. As I love myself, others will be inspired to also go within and love themselves. I acknowledge my free will and the free will of others to take this spiritual invitation. I love myself no matter what the choice of others may be. I trust that those who love me unconditionally will surround me. My self-love sustains me through all. And so it is."
3. Doing things for the greater good. As a beautiful and giving person, you decide that you're going to be selfless and do what's for the greater good (best for everyone). You may decide to do your spiritual duty and put aside your personal desires and needs to help others or improve a situation. This is another big trap. We are here to model and show others how to love ourselves more deeply and more authentically. That means that as we value and honor our own desires and needs, we let others know its ok for them to do the same. This creates a ripple effect happens that spreads love around the world--for the greater good. Exercise: Visualize energy coming from above and below you, running through you and exiting through your heart space and expanding out. Do this every day for two minutes. You will train yourself to give from the inside out, filling yourself up first.
Looking for more practical ways to love and honor yourself? Dive in with my self-help ebook based on my spiritual journey from self-sabotage to self-love. Practical exercises and inspiration included!
Comment below: How do you practice self-love?