Begin to see yourself as you truly are: infinitely lovable and infinitely worthy of love.
This is an excerpt from my book, Little Guide to Love Magic.
The time to begin loving yourself (or to begin loving yourself even more) is…wait for it…now.
There are no conditions you need to meet or hoops you need to jump through first. You are just as lovable now as you’ll ever be – no more, no less.
As legendary spiritual author Louise Hay wrote in her book You Can Heal Your Life, “What is important in this moment is what you are choosing to think and believe and say right now. For these thoughts and words will create your future. Your point of power is in the present moment and is forming the experience of tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and so on.”
With that in mind, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to do the following exercise than now.
Self-Love Attunement Practice
Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your lower belly, or place both hands on your heart (whichever feels more loving to you). Take a deep inhale and intentionally breathe love into your body. As you exhale, breathe love into your spirit and aura. (Your aura is your energy field that fills and surrounds your body.) Do this a few more times until you feel the energy in your heart expand and your body relax.
Now lovingly assess the ways you have been speaking to and treating yourself lately. Have you been critical of your body or consistently insulted your appearance in some way? Have you been telling yourself you should be further along in your career by now, or that you’re not very smart, or that you shouldn’t even consider trying something you want to do because you’re so sure you’ll be bad at it? In some areas, you may have been neglecting things that support you and bring you joy, and in others, you may have been overly harsh or rigid with the rules you have set for yourself.
Allow yourself to feel the pain and suffering that results from these insults, mistreatments, and not-so-constructive criticisms. Instead of tensing up and trying to avoid feeling these feelings, breathe into them. Shine the light of compassionate awareness into them. Feel your breath expanding your chest area and bringing a sense of open spaciousness to your heart. This will begin to unstick old energy and clear it out of your heart center and emotional body.
Remember, we can all be unkind to ourselves, and considering the culture we were all raised in, it’s a natural habit to adopt. So with as little judgment as possible, continue to explore and connect with the damage and diminishment that has come from not being kind to yourself. Can you see how it hasn’t helped you? Can you detect the ways it has paralyzed you, limited you, and closed your heart to life?
Now, this next part is going to feel awkward for sure, especially when you first begin, but please bear with me and give it a try. With your hands still on your heart (or one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly), speak (or whisper) aloud an apology to yourself from your heart, along with a promise that it’s your intention to treat yourself with more love and compassion starting now. (It’s okay if you need to wait until you’re alone to do this.)
Your apology to yourself should be in your own words, but just to give you an idea, it might. sound a little something like this:
[Your name], I can see that I haven’t been giving you the loving support lately that will help you to thrive. I’m so sorry that I’ve been so harsh with your about making mistakes and being forgetful. I’m so sorry that I’ve criticized you for the way you look, and that I’ve actually believed that your self-worth should be based on your appearance in any way. I’m sorry for the ways I’ve neglected to treasure your uniqueness and to support you in shining your light. I’m sorry I’ve ignored your cries for more sleep and rest, and that I’ve pushed you to work more than felt authentic to you. I do love and treasure you, and I promise I will do my best to show that from now on. I can see that I’ve adopted these unloving habits because of the way I was raised and the norms in my culture, so there’s no need to be angry with myself about it, but I can and will do my best to change, starting now. I will love you fully and completely, exactly as you are now, unconditionally. You don’t need to look, act, or be any certain way to be worthy of love. You are already worthy of love. Of course, all people change throughout their lives, so if you want to change, I will love you then too, but I will not see you as intrinsically more worthy of love if you do change. I will listen to your needs and take care of you as best as I can, because I know that is what will help you thrive. I may not always do this perfectly, but I will keep showing up and doing my best, and I know that my self-loving habits will improve over time.
Finish by literally giving yourself a hug. Please don’t skip the hug – I’m asking politely! Wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze. Even if you just rolled your eyes and thought, “Now that’s going too far,” or “It won’t really matter if I don’t hug myself,” or “I’m hugging myself in my mind,” give yourself a real hug anyway. And don’t just go through the motions, but actually send love to yourself as you hug yourself, as if you were hugging someone you really, really love – because you are.
You’ve been through a lot with yourself. You know yourself pretty darn well, so you know you’re actually really sweet and that you’ve run into some rough patches along the way. So what have you got to lose? Give yourself a hug!
Next, in a notebook or journal, make two columns: “Things That Nourish Me” and “Things That Diminish Me.” Under each heading, brainstorm everything you can think of that fits in the category. So, for example, things that nourish you might include, among other things, “Loving my body as it is now, taking baths, meditating, being in nature, laughing, spending time with my cat.” Things that diminish you might include, “Being critical of my body, checking my phone too much, spending time with ____(someone who doesn’t listen to you or takes advantage of you), working too much, not getting enough sleep, not taking action on my dreams.”
Be aware that this exercise isn’t all or nothing, and remember to take moderation into consideration. For example, having an occasional cocktail or two to relax and socialize might nourish you, while having too many cocktails too many days in a row would diminish you. Taking action toward your goals will nourish you, while working toward your goals without taking any downtime would diminish you. Loving self-care isn’t a paint-by-numbers endeavor. It requires subtlety and attention.
Let this journaling exercise be a method of getting curious about, and clear on, how you can best take care of yourself. Do it as a natural expression of your love for yourself, and as a concrete action toward your intention of loving yourself more.
When your list feels complete for now (it can always be a work in progress), look it over and commit yourself to take three concrete actions to express your love for yourself. For example, as you consider what you wrote, you might commit to reading a book on body positivity, turning your phone off or putting in airplane mode at a certain time each day, and clearing clutter out of your bedroom so it feels more restful and uplifting. Whatever three actions you choose, make sure that they feel energizing and that you can honestly commit to getting started on them within the next week.
And now the self-love snowball has begun.
If you liked this post, you will love the book it’s excerpted from: Little Guide to Love Magic.
Did this post inspire you to love yourself more? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Lauren @ Heal Your BFRB says
Hey Tess, I’m a fan of yours and also a freelance editor, so I couldn’t help but notice the typo “asses” in this line: “Now lovingly asses the ways you have been speaking to and treating yourself lately.” (Should be “assess.”)
Not the first time I’ve caught this particular typo, but it always makes me smile. 😛
Tess Whitehurst says
Lauren, I am so grateful! I was in a hurry when I was typing. Haha. I’ll fix it right now. Thank you!