10 Really Practical Ways to Love Yourself

My big mantra when it comes to dating and relationships is that it really all starts with you.

Your relationship with yourself ultimately determines who and what you accept in your life.  And we accept the love and care we think we deserve – whether that's consciously or unconsciously.

For many years I never connected the dots in terms of my many heartbreaks and disappointments with the way I was treating myself.  Being so tough on myself, not ever feeling good enough despite portraying a different picture to the outside world, putting myself down in many of the most amazing moments of my life.It's not that I didn't believe in myself – somehow I always found the courage to do what needed to be done because for me self-love and self-belief are two sides of the same coin.This was (and is still some days) more about taking care of myself in a kind and loving way.  And the big realisation that it was my job first.  As long as I searched for this from somebody else, or relied on it from an 'external' source – I would end up disillusioned and frustrated.Looking back now this is obvious I know.  I just never understood it in this particular way.What made the ultimate change was a deliberate decision to stop and start again.  I simply couldn't carry on the way I was.This is not one of those 'you're perfect just the way you are' posts – it is not about perfection. Yes we all have things we can work on and improve – but we have plenty more to celebrate and strengthen!Here are 10 things I've learnt that have brought me peace of mind, acceptance and so much love.

  1. Know your personal truth, what you stand for,  what makes you tick. Know what you want in your life so you can be proactive about getting it instead of getting swept away by other people's ideas of what it should be. If you haven't figured this out yet – start today.
  2. One of the big ones (if not the biggest!): Stop the unhelpful Self-talk.  Take one day and write down the things you tend to say to yourself – and then say it out loud. Try and say them to your best friend as if you're speaking to her, or your daughter, your mom, your niece, your sister – and see how far you get. Do you think you would manage repeating all these put-downs, criticism and un-truths out loud to somebody that isn't you?
  3. Know your boundaries and your deal breakers.  Be clear about what type of behaviour is acceptable in your life and what isn't. And stick with it.  I am all for compromise when the time is right and it comes easy because I don't get swept away by things I have no interest in having in my life.
  4. If you're in a situation you don't like you have 3 simple choices: Accept it,change it or leave it. Find the strength and stop rationalising, complaining about it and/or analysing it to death. It may be the hardest thing you've ever had to do, but you always have the choice.
  5. Take care of your body – exercise, eat what is right for you, sleep, spend time in nature.  Sometimes just this one act of self-love can take care of or get rid of a whole lot of the other stuff.  It is simple, it can be free if that's what you choose – and it works.
  6. Spend time with, and surround yourself with people you want to be with you and where you feel the way you want to feel. Toxic relationships can suck the life out of you and make you doubt everything about yourself. If this is you – ask yourself what you're getting out of this (toxic) relationship? And what is it costing you in the process?
  7. When did you make the decision that you're not 'loveable' or that you don't deserve better or to be invisible? How old were you? Is it time to move on from that – to make new, healing decisions. A new story. For many this happened when we were very little, we can't even remember. Many of us do remember the trauma that accompanied that decision.  If this is you – please do get help to do the work. Whether it's a coach, a therapist, church, a support group – whatever works for you.  Asking for help is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself.
  8. Do something every day that is just for you. What do you love most?  What makes you feel strong and alive and most like you?  Do that thing. Even if it is only for a short while. And if you have trouble doing this for yourself it may be connected to point 7.
  9. Let go of your need for approval. You're not everybody's cup of tea. I'm certainly not!  For most of my life I just wanted to be liked and it took me nearly fourty years to be ok with it not being the case.  And I love that.
  10. Be as patient and kind and gentle with yourself as you are with the people who are most precious to you – because you are one of them.
And remember – it really is a choice. One you have to practice daily.

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