Everyone knows that self-love is vital to building self-esteem and self-confidence, for setting healthy boundaries and feeling good about yourself. Problem is, if you don’t feel good about yourself to start with, if you don’t like yourself much and you’re feeling pretty depressed and miserable, then trying to love yourself is like holding onto a helium-filled birthday balloon and expecting it can fly you to Mars. Mission Impossible!
(Thanks to Idea go for this evocative image.)
When loving yourself and feeling good about yourself seems impossible, then what you need to do is parent yourself. That’s where you do the things you know you need to do, even when you don’t want to, can’t be bothered, or feel that you don’t deserve to treat yourself well.
Good parents create environments where we can grow, be safe, and learn to get to know ourselves and the world around us. They support us, love us and guide us until we move to a place of maturity where we can do these things for ourselves.
Even when you find it hard to love yourself, there is a wise part of your soul that intuitively knows what you need to get back to a place of balance. Your job is to let that parent part of you – the Wise Soul – make the choices for the part of you that is struggling to get on your feet and feel good again.
Here are five simple things you can do to make a start towards healing your relationship with yourself:
1. Decide to accept yourself right now, as you are and where you are in life. Too often we tell ourselves that we’ll like ourselves better when we’ve lost weight, found a job, left a bad relationship, found a good relationship, stopped smoking, gotten fit, or won lotto. When we put conditions on loving ourselves, we never get to that mysterious just-around-the-corner place that is forever up ahead and out of our reach. Be honest with yourself. If life is painful, admit that. Don’t numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, food or overwork. Reach out for help if you’re having trouble coping, or need some new skills and strategies to make tomorrow look different to today.
2. Create a safe space. Everyone needs a place to call home, where they can relax, be themselves, and surround themselves with things that reflect their sense of self. Music, plants, posters or paintings, colours and fragrances – all of these things can help ground you and give you a sense of belonging and security. It’s not about the objects as much as the energy they create. Start by making sure your space is clean. Dirt, mess and clutter drain you and create stagnant energy. Clear the clutter, and then begin to make your space somewhere that is inviting, uplifting and positive.
3. Practice respect. Respect yourself enough to avoid, minimise your exposure to or end toxic relationships and to stop toxic behavours. Respect your body by eating well, and by exercising daily – even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard and you don’t want to. That’s what parents do. They make sure we drink enough water, eat our greens, get enough sleep, and get out of bed in the morning. In everything that you do, ask yourself “Does this action or choice honour me?” When we suffer from a lack of self-love it’s easy to make choices that don’t do the best by us. In some cases we even choose things that sabotage our well-being. Once again, if you’re really struggling here, ask for help, whether it’s a counsellor, personal trainer, rehab facility or a good friend who has your back.
4. Find something to look forward to and work towards it, or include it in your life. Whether it’s an overseas holiday, salsa dancing lessons, art classes or writing a best-seller, everyone needs to have a sense of purpose, and that purpose doesn’t have to be career related. Don’t be afraid to dream big, even if you have to start small. (image by Simon Howden)
5. Spend some time in nature each day. Fresh air and sunshine has been used as a remedy for depression and to heal all manner of ills for centuries. Watching animals in nature has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase endorphins and relax tension in our muscles. Having contact with pets also helps us heal and feel better about ourselves, and teaches us responsibility for others.
Don’t give up. Be the parent you need for yourself. There is strength and wisdom within you. Trust!
Love and Light, Nicole ♥ xx