May 2019: A Guide to Self-Love

I sit here in my flat, on a peaceful, sunny morning, feeling very optimistic and excited about life as I work on my personal development. In terms of writing, work on YouTube and self education, I have several tasks for today, but generally I am feeling very happy about what I’ve achieved. I have learnt to become very content with myself.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA and the upcoming Mental Awareness Week in the UK later in May, I felt that it was the right time to talk about self-love, my own experiences and what I have learnt from it. Self-love is something with which many, many people struggle, and this can especially have a huge impact on mental health. I hope what I write today on self-love provides a useful guide, so that people think in a different way, leading to them having happier, more fulfilling and purposeful lives.

“Not good enough!”

“I’m pathetic”

“Come on!”

Recognise some of these terms? It’s very likely you have said such things to yourself. I know that I certainly have!

 

The voice in our heads

There is a voice in our heads that comes at us when things don’t go the way we want them to, and immediately we feel down. It’s the voice that tells us we need to be doing better and we are not worthy as we are. This is the voice that is very aggressive and domineering.

In fact, it’s not until the last year or so that I’ve begun to get to grips with the skill of self-love.  Like a lot of things that I talk about, self-love requires practice.  Again, it’s like exercising a muscle in the gym, where you learn what to do and then practise. I’ve spent many years reading books but only in the past year, have I been reading specifically about self-love. I still have a long way to go and there are days when it’s harder than others, but when I feel real love for myself, those days are so fulfilling and happy.

 

The importance of self-love

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self one thing, it would be to really focus on loving myself. When I say self-love, I do not mean trying to appear confident or cocky in front of people, I mean a genuine sense of acceptance, appreciation, respect and value of yourself. It is so important to love yourself as YOU ARE YOU; there’s no escaping that. It’s not like a horrible ‘friend’, who is treating you badly and from whom you just walk away.

On that note, people will often try and seek happiness from others; now, it is important to note that self-love IS NOT SELFISH, it’s about allowing yourself to be who you really want to be. When we seek happiness from an external source, this can be a very dangerous game to play. This is because we can’t control others, but we can control our own thoughts, decisions and actions. Please also note that self-love is not about being alone either, although I have found that it is about being comfortable when you are alone. When you love yourself, you will want to spend time with the right people and give something to others. You will not tolerate people who don’t respect you, as you know you deserve better.

 

Top tips for self-love:

As I have mentioned, self-love is a skill that you can develop. Don’t try to force it, just try and work towards it and naturally it will come. This is what I’ve found. Here are some top tips that I have found have helped me to increase my self-love:

 

Praise yourself when you achieve something

When we achieve something, we feel great and can see that progress has been made. As human beings though, we are often so quick to dismiss this. Try, instead, to let the achievement or progress sink in. My suggestion is to note down the good points from each day, on a daily basis, no matter how small you think the achievement may be.

 

 

Not dismissing compliments or praise

When someone compliments us, there is often a response from ourselves, such as ‘Yeah but it wasn’t me it was more…’, ‘I didn’t do that great, but thanks’ or ‘Ah, thanks but I don’t think so’

NO!

You are getting a compliment or some praise for a reason! Let that sink in and say thank you.

 

When things go wrong, comfort yourself as you would a friend

Life will inevitably throw up challenges and setbacks, but don’t put that frustration on to yourself. Chances are that it is not your fault (even if you think it is), and even if it is, don’t worry about it! You can only learn. You are a human being (nobody is perfect).

In these instances, think of how you would comfort an upset friend or an upset child. You wouldn’t shout ‘COME ON, YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER, YOU LOSER!’…. well I hope you wouldn’t, anyway. So why shout these things to yourself? Instead, be kinder and say things, such as ‘Don’t worry about it, it will get better next time. You are doing great as you are’.

 

 

Listen to your body and emotions

If your body is screaming out that it is tired, or that you feel frustrated / annoyed / overwhelmed etc, don’t ignore it! It’s a message from yourself to indicate that something isn’t right. By ignoring these calls, you are not looking after yourself or giving yourself any love. When a family member is sick or very tired, you would tell them to rest, so do this for yourself.

 

Find time to relax and to have fun

This is probably still my greatest challenge; I have to admit! When I do find time for a little bit more ‘me’ time, I find myself feeling happier after all the work I do. Yes, we have to put in effort to achieve our goals and dreams, but you also need to reward yourself. By scheduling in time to chill out, you are rewarding yourself and treating yourself with the self-love that you deserve. You may argue ‘I don’t have time’. I would respond that by saying that there is always time for the most important things ,and one of the most important things you should give yourself is the time to relax.

 

 

Love letters!

No, I don’t mean writing to somebody you fancy, I mean writing to yourself. When we put into words how much we love ourselves, we are consciously picking out the great things about ourselves, in turn allowing us to love ourselves that little bit more. If you make a regular habit of writing a short letter to yourself (perhaps as part of your daily journal) then you will be able to identify more great things about yourself and more reasons for self-love.

 

 

You need to continue to practise such things, even when you think that you’ve reached a high level of self-love. Like any skill, you need to keep practising in order to both maintain and increase that love for yourself. This is just as the world’s top athletes would do in their field.

 

 

In summary

Self-love is one of the most essential things to focus on in life. You are you, so why try and run away from that? Self-love will help you to live a happier life. It’s not something that will happen naturally overnight but with practice, your skills will grow. Find time to really work on self-love as a priority in your life. I wish you all the best self-love and happiness that you can find.

 

Jonny Pardoe

 

Jonny Pardoe © May 2019

 

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