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How to Cultivate Self-Love: 7 Steps to Feeling Good About Yourself

Oh Mighty Health is all about learning how to tune in with the planet, nature and ultimately yourself. That’s why I write articles on natural ingredients, using essential oils, herbs and natural skincare to heal your mind and body, as well as how to live a positive, healthy life.

Self-love can be cultivated through self-reflection, self-empathy and self-kindness. These are not easy concepts to master, despite the fact that their benefits are tremendous. Self-love is not something you buy. In fact, the more you shop for needless things the more you’re trying to find self-love through externals.

Self-love is something you have to learn how to cultivate and, like everything, it takes time and practice.

NOTE: There’s no better time than NOW to take actionable steps toward cultivating self-love, as well as getting clear on what “self-love” means exactly. SELF-LOVE means to be willing to let go of your negative thoughts and expose them for what they are right here, right now at this moment: JUST THOUGHTS.

Our society can be VERY negative

In our society “Negativity” is so pervasive because are taught to be competitive and judgemental. We are supposed to be “someone” at a certain age and earn a “certain amount of money”. We’re supposed to have a successful marriage and play the part with a nice house and two kids who are runners and have “proper” educations. We’re supposed to be at the top of our fields and have all the things we want. We’re supposed to be “healthy” but at the same time wealthy. The list goes on, you get the idea.

When these things are not achieved (and usually they’re not, OR if they are, they DON’T give us the state of peace of mind we’re all searching for – which is the same as Self-Love), the negative thinking can get like a monster and beat us up day in, day out. Understanding that the attention we pay to “the voice in the head” is the problem takes time to master, but once we do, it can change your life in ways you can’t even imagine.

INFO: It happened to me. I live a very self-loving and wonderful life nowadays because my head is not my master any longer. I know it can be achieved with persistence. That’s all you need.

Yes, this is not something we can just regain in 15 minutes a day, it takes a lifetime of work, but you can spend only 15 minutes every day trying to follow one of the suggestions before. Over time, these 15 minutes become a good habit, a daily step towards self-love. And eventually, it turns into a full day where you become aware and practice continuously without realising.

Your “inner” voice tells you what to think

Most of us have the “inner” voice telling us what to do or what we should do. It is usually a HORRIBLE voice. A monster at times if I may say. The problem is when we can’t see that voice and we just get lost in it. That is the worse slavery possible when your negative thinking becomes your total master.

Let’s break down the different aspects of Negative thinking:

  1. The Negative “stories”
    These stories have usually been there since we were kids and somehow solidified into our thinking (beliefs that are not necessarily Truth, but just a subjective perspective). These stories are our “normal” thinking which we learn to treat as right and true because our parents, family and friends taught us they were. This is not only limited to these smaller groups but also society in general.
  2. The Negative Self-image
    The way we look at ourselves is often from the perspective of the negative stories mentioned above and because our brain cannot differentiate between what is real and what it produces, we end up believing that WHO WE ARE is defined by all these stories.
  3. The Habit of Judgementalism
    What happens then is that the brain starts to build a “set of rules” called Judgements which are simply more negative thoughts. If a person looks different from us or makes different decisions than we do or we simply don’t understand their behaviour we easily go into fear mode and start judging them. They become the bad person, while we are their victims. This is just one example. Living in the world and being disconnected from the Self also produces fear (the body is an animal trying to defend itself, always in survival mode) and fear produces Judgement. They become a self-defence mechanism. The more we judge the other, the more we feel protected. But this is an illusion. When judgements go, we are at peace and very safe. Any “opinion” I call an unsafe judgement because we’re not able to live in the present, with our Self. Negative thinking and judgements are very common in our society overall.

NOTE: It is important to get clarity on the root of negative thoughts. The first step in cultivating self-love is to acknowledge your negativity.

Self Love begins with self-worth

Self-love begins with self-worth! Identify when the thinking is beating you up and do something to change it. The more attention you give to your negative thoughts the more you empower them. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much a negative thought has taken over our lives until we start looking at how it is affecting our health and our happiness. Suffering, unfortunately, is a very good teacher. The more time you spend unhappily and thinking negatively, the more you will be able to see how it is hurting you.

INFO: We can use the analogy of the “shopping cart”. When people get caught up in negative thinking, they usually start buying things that are not necessary or are counter-productive to their health in one way or another.

Self Love is a journey and although it may be painful at times, it is a lifelong one. It takes time, effort, and practice to cultivate.

What does healthy self-esteem look like?

Ah, this is a very good question. The best way I can answer it is by explaining what it feels like to have healthy self-esteem. It is not something you can fabricate or put on like a “superhero cape” – it is an internal experience. It requires an open mind to see beyond the stories we have been told – and a willingness to work hard to cultivate something that is still new, difficult, and challenging. We need to dig deep and face our demons – to be able to look at who we really are.

Healthy self-esteem develops from being able to:

  1. Listen to your internal voice without judgement;
  2. Get in touch with your values and priorities;
  3. Be okay with making mistakes when you are trying something new; it’s a process of learning;
  4. Do things that you really love doing, even if they are not always successful;
  5. Get in touch with your creative side and enjoy what you do;
  6. Develop a sense of community and support;
  7. Get in touch with who you are as a spiritual being;
  8. Develop a sense of humour and a creative spirit.

NOTE: A common misconception is that if we stop judging and negative thinking, the magic will happen instantly. This might not be true in all cases. It took me 3 months to overcome my negative thinking (by not paying attention to it, it is a skill!) but 12 years on, I’m still growing and developing. Again, it is a lifetime process but the benefits can be experienced very soon.

INFO: Healthy self-esteem means a head that has speaks lower and lower over time because no attention is being paid to it. It dies over time. Don’t be afraid of this. You are NOT your thinking.

How to Cultivate Self-Love in Your Daily Life

I can assure you if you do these 7 Steps to Cultivating Self Love, you will be amazed at the difference a simple shift of perspective can make in your life. It will change the way you see yourself and others and this will soon have a huge difference in how you feel about yourself.

It is not as hard as you might expect if you can “come back” to yourself often enough.

1. Don’t be your own enemy and get rid of self-loathing

Try to stop beating yourself up. Flushing out negative thoughts is not possible, but identifying them and ignoring them IS. Putting yourself in a “loving state of mind” by telling yourself nice things is a beginning but if you can’t, then simply try to “forget” your negative thoughts by innocently detaching from them.

2. Giving yourself credit

We give credit to others if they have something nice to say (you do it all the time…think about it! :)), why wouldn’t you be able to give yourself credit? There is no need to feel you have to be perfect, look after yourself and love yourself enough to give yourself credit for your accomplishments. When something does not go as planned, simply ignore it and remember to focus on the positive things instead.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

Stop comparing yourself to others and start appreciating who you are. If we compare ourselves to others, the thought process usually goes like this: “I am not as good as “X” is. I am bad. I am not enough”. We are not responsible for the attitude of others and how they feel about us. But we can try to be kind to ourselves by understanding that nobody is perfect. We are enough right now.

NOTE: The more we learn to love ourselves and focus on our own goals in life, the less bothered we will be by what other people think of us. We have to remember that we are responsible for our own lives, our attitude and for being kind to ourselves first.

INFO: We constantly compare ourselves to others, it is a survival technique we use, like a computer and its hard drive. It is called “mind” and it is memory.

4. Do something kind for someone else

Each time you have the urge to criticize yourself or someone for something, STOP and do something nice for someone else instead. This will take your mind off the self-critic.

5. Focus on the good things

What are your favourite things about yourself? Start there and add more things
to the list as time goes by. You might find it difficult at first because you might not be used to praising yourself. If so, ask others. What do they like about you? You can get started with your list that way 🙂

HELPFUL: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Say this to yourself every time you have a negative thought… even if you don’t believe it, keep saying it.

6. Stop Looking for external validation

Anytime you start looking for external validation, you are letting others define your reality. So, when you feel you are not good enough, it is time to stop looking for external validation. Others won’t tell you the truth if they are also listening to their inner voice. They will tell you what THEIR inner voice is telling them… See the fallacy? The only person who can confirm or deny your worth is you.

NOTE: This is a very powerful step although it might be hard for a while. Just keep working at it. Eventually, you WILL NOT look for external validation. I stopped looking for it a long time ago.

INFO: We often look for external validation to make us feel better when we feel we are not good enough. That way we can forget about feeling bad about ourselves.

7. Spend time with those you love

Spend time with those you love and who love you. Share precious time with them

  • talk about the things that are important to you and ask them about theirs too. Share time together as a family. Connection is an important building block of self-esteem.

NOTE: It is okay to have a calm, peaceful and loving time alone but if you have time to share with others, do so and cherish it. Spot when you’re isolating in a negative or self-harmful way.

Use meditation to develop an awareness of self-love & start a gratitude journal

These two wonderful practices can help you to naturally develop inner peace, confidence and self-love.

Meditation is one of the most powerful practices you can use to access the part of your brain that allows you to feel safe and confident about yourself. It is also very good for stress management and for feeling calmer. Eventually, you will always live in a state of meditation. It took me years to accept I didn’t “know” how to meditate. But I kept trying. Eventually, it is something I do without realising. Whether I’m watching a movie or watching a fight take place in front of me, I’m always in a meditative state. That is, I’m connected with a calm and loving inner centre that doesn’t move when things are going “wrong” in the outer world.

In addition to meditation, I highly recommend that you start a gratitude journal. It is very easy. Writing a list of all the things you’re grateful for each day can change your life. If you think that you will run out of things very quickly…. well, that’s just a thought 🙂 Get it started and watch how your inner self will guide you to write what you are grateful for. It’s amazing!

HELPFUL: You can start by writing about your favourite things from that very day, you can do this for a month. Each day, write down the 3 things you’re most grateful for. Then, keep on going…and going…

Tips on how to reduce self-doubt

Here are some tips on how to reduce self-doubt and self-loathing:

  1. Find your values and live in alignment with them as and when you can (if not possible for a long time, don’t worry. The fact that you’re trying is MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH).
  2. Forgive yourself when you’re unsure about something. Usually, it is the guilt that makes it worse.
  3. Be kind to yourself because IT IS ok to be imperfect.
  4. Give yourself credit for all your accomplishments and learn from failures too if you can see that.
  5. Learn to accept that you are in control of your feelings and thoughts every single moment that you are living.

Ways to be your best self

Often it is through creativity that we are able to access parts of our mind that feel blocked or inaccessible. Creativity provides a way for us to connect with our sense of self. Some of the benefits of creativity are:

  1. It is a healing therapy. It helps to release emotions when you feel stuck and soothe you to sleep at night with meditation.
  2. It helps you to express your feelings.
  3. It can help in discovering who you are through visual arts or writing poetry and songs etc.
  4. It is a great way to connect with others if you can share your work with them.
  5. It makes you feel alive and it can be so much fun.

Take care of yourself by eating enough, drinking water, and resting

I don’t always drink as much water as I think I need, but I DON’T beat myself up about this. When I remember, I drink water. If I don’t, well, I didn’t remember. That’s the end of it. I try to go to bed early at times, but do not always succeed. This is ok too. I’m growing my own vegs and fruits so I also try to eat very healthily on a daily basis (but I do have my naughties more often than I should). The point is that I TRY. And that’s more than good enough. In general, I sleep well, I hydrate myself and on average I eat healthily. It’s not about “never ever”. It’s about doing your best today. That’s all.

NOTE: Often when we take care of ourselves, we actually improve our health and deepen our relationships.

So often we don’t even realize that we are drained. Get enough rest and eat nourishing, healthy food to keep your energy high and replenish.

Self-love is the foundation for all other aspects of life

Self-Love is important because it is the foundation for our health and well-being. It is the basis for all other aspects of life. Without self-love, you can’t really connect with the outside world, you are living in constant fear. Constant self-beating up. Constant pain and suffering. You will see this more clearly when self-love is your foundation. So, I urge you to start here today and not delay any further.

Self-love is a state of being that we build each day. We can only be loved by others if we are accepting of ourselves at a core level. In fact, here’s a little secret: are actually LOVE itself, but we need to actualise this in order to live this wonderful, wonderful truth.

Remember Self-love is NOT selfish

Self-love is NOT selfish. It means we treat ourselves with loving-kindness, respect and value. Think of yourself when you were a child… How would you treat this child? That’s how we need to treat ourselves today, as adults. With the same kindness and love. It is not selfish. It is compassionate and respectful to treat yourself with loving-kindness.

Live for today because it’s all we have!

The only life we get is the one we have today. The past, the future, and everything that happened – are all gone. Only the present moment exists for us now.

It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling unloved or unimportant. So take some time for yourself this week and try one of the tips mentioned above. It will be a good enough start 🙂

LOVE,

Patri ❤️💕

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