The question “do you love yourself” cannot be answered with a yes or a no. It does not refer to two distinctive poles where you can stand and claim “I don’t” or “I do”. It is rather more possible that at times, you love yourself and feel you are your best friend, and at other times, when fear, shame, blame, guilt, pressure, anxiety and criticism dominate, you feel you do not. Times when you sale short yourself, you put it last on your list, you do not honor or accept it at all. At those times it is difficult to hear your inner voice and follow its advice.
To ability to recognize if you really love yourself, is an evidence of power and a prerequisite for happiness, because only then you can make conscious choices and take simple but transformative action, that will expand the area of self-love that needs your attention the most. Do not forget that wherever you put your focus on, that expands and gets bigger, as we have talked about in previous articles.
So, how can you answer whether you really love yourself?
Let’s discuss some of the basics, referring to Self-Love.
1. Self-love is not something that happens by default. Self-love needs to be a conscious choice at any given time of the day. In your daily choices and thoughts, you can choose fear, guilt, shame, anxiety or criticism, towards yourself or others or you can choose love, compassion, tenderness, respect and acceptance. However, it might seem at first that to turn to the positive, empowering emotions is difficult.
2. The challenge is not to know what to do, but to allow yourself to take action for love. Most of us know the choices that we need to make so as to believe in ourselves, to take care of it, to cultivate relationships of mutual respect, to chase our dreams, just to mention a few examples- but usually we let guilt, fear and shame to stand in the way of self-love.
3. Self-appreciation is not the same with Self-love. You might appreciate yourself, but not love it enough. Self-appreciation is part of Self-love, but only 1/10 of that love. To be able to give to yourself deep and complete love you need to cultivate and grow all 10 expressions of self-love. Because even with high self-appreciation but no compassion for yourself, no caring, no respecting etc., you will be making choices that do not include love, like giving, or doing, or working too much, staying in bad relationships or compromising with less than your true potential.
The 10 expressions of Self-love:
At times self-love might feel as too generic and introvert, so much that you do not know where to start from. So let’s imagine that Self-love is the trunk of a tree, and the tree has 10 branches.
- Consciousness and honesty: You know who you are and who you are not, and you have commitment to the truth and honesty regarding your actions, thoughts, choices, that influence your reality and the world around you.
- You like who you are and you do not compare yourself with others, you do not wish to be somebody else, including a better version of yourself. You love and appreciate who you are and that includes your body. You often recognize you self-value.
- Self-care: You ensure that you are getting everything you need, every day, at all levels – emotional, physical, and spiritual – without guilt, sacrifices, or the need to be a martyr. You do not work too much or do too many things, so as not to exhaust yourself.
- Compassion and Self- forgiveness. You open your heart and become an observer of yourself. Without judging, you send to you waves of goodness, understanding, and forgiveness that touch, heal and transform the “flaws” of your human dimension through unconditional love. You are not obsessed with perfectionism and criticism.
- Self-trust: you hear and follow the guidance that comes from your inner voice, believing that you know what is right for you, even if others think the contrary.
- Self-appreciation: You believe and appreciate yourself, you have great self confidence in your ability to do and to be whatever you decide, and you believe that your contribution is valuable.
- Self-expression: you allow others to see you holistically, truly, without apologizing or containing yourself. You are whole and free in the expression of your heart and soul.
- Self-empowerment: you undertake responsibility for your life when you act to create it the way you want it, without apologizing or asking for validation from others.
- Self-respect and honor: your choices respect and honor your soul, especially in relationships. You have only relations where love and respect prevail.
- Self-gratification: You consistently create, get and live happiness, whatever happens in your surroundings, ensuring that your soul is constantly fed.
Every person will have some branches that need to be developed further, concerning the conscious choice of self-love, so that they can build a relationship with themselves, and make it their best friend.
For instance, it could be the need to become more compassionate when you fail in something. Instead of choosing to punish yourself constantly, you can choose to comfort it. Or it might be that, even if you are great at your job and you have substantial self-appreciation, you are lagging seriously behind with regards to relationships, because you are lacking respect or appreciation. Or you might be one of those people that permanently contain themselves, compress and does not allow themselves to be expressed or expect to evaluate what is going on through the responses of others, as they do not trust their inner voice. You might be lacking self-empowerment, self-expression and self-confidence. Or maybe you are giving, doing, working too much and you exhaust yourself, you suffer of lack of self-care, appreciation and gratification.
You must ask yourself what is the expression of Self-love that needs your attention and focus the most. So that you can develop the skill of taking action to support you to create the life that your heart and soul desires. And that is something that you need to do now, in 2016.
If you are wondering about the root of that tree that supports your All, it is your self-worth or self-esteem, that is, the value that you give to yourself. You appreciate yourself based on what you are inside, not based on what you accomplish or what others say about you. You know what motivates you, and you do not move from the need for external validation, recognition or love. You live your life base on your internal value system, not that of your surroundings.
Make 2016 the year of Self-Love. Give yourself a promise that will allow you to remain focused all year on developing that part of your life. This promise, this statement of Self-Love will act as an anchor that will bring you back in alignment so that you can always choose love, in the moments when fear, guilt, shame, criticism will want to penetrate and guide you towards a road of hurdles, instead of a road of love.
Create this statement using words that you could say to yourself the moment that you need to, like your best friend would do for you. For instance, if the statement you want to work with regards self-gratification, you can promise yourself “no matter how much work there is, I will always keep time for fun”. That is the moment when you are ready to choose too much work, whilst your soul is asking to get some pleasure or joy, your inner self might say, like your best friend would, “you promise that, no matter how much work there is, you will always keep time for some fun”. In such a way you will acquire in that very moment, the power to give to yourself the permission to move to an act of love, that only from your own heart and soul you can receive.