“The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life”Tony Robbins
The collective term relationships include the relationship with yourself, which indirectly impacts your relationship with the natural world and those around you.
Everything in this world is connected, we have seen this over and over again. Abuse of one trickle over into other areas, the current climate crisis is a perfect example of the interconnectedness of all things. Abuse in one country, the ocean, animals in a virus breeding wet market or the rainforest will affect our health, climate, food supply etc on the other side of the planet. To me, this crises is the ultimate reflection of our collective “inner world”. You are not alone we have lost our way, but recognising this means you can return to what is most important. Love.
It’s when we’re fixated on the wrong things and not being mindful, paying attention to our actions and the consequences of them that we hurt ourselves, those around us and the planet.
Have you ever heard the saying, misery loves company? This is so true as like energy attracts like energy, this includes the energy you project onto yourself. So if you’re talking yourself down all the time, chances are you’re attracting hurtful people into your life who will not hesitate to hurt you in an instant. People who are hurting inside will hurt others, it’s just a matter of time.
The change starts with you, and the fact that you’ve stumbled upon this page means that you’re already taking the first steps to a happier, more fulfilled and loving life.
Learning how to love yourself unconditionally, flaws, mistakes and all are essential to your happiness, to your success in relationships and to the way you interact with the world. I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism here, but kindness and unconditional love that transcends past and future mistakes. Let’s look at what this means by identifying your current state.
How to Recognise your Current State and Identify Self Loathing
To understand how to love yourself it’s important to pay close attention to the conversation you’re having inside your head, as self-love does not necessarily start with an affirmation in the mirror every morning. It starts with the general tone of the conversations you are having with yourself throughout the day. An affirmation can set the tone for the day, but you still need to pay attention to the subsequent conversation.
I’m a strong believer that this internal conversation is also where many people’s depression originates from and can be corrected with a change in tone, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Auditing your Internal Conversation
What I’d like you to do, is a little internal audit. Get a notebook and write your internal conversation down on paper a few times a day. Write without judgement, it’s ok if you’re being harsh at this point as that will help you recognise your state of mind. Once recognised you can change it more effectively.
If you’ve made a mistake, what are you saying? Is it A, “How stupid can you be? I can’t believe you’ve done this again? You’re such an idiot/ [insert rude words] and so forth” or are you saying, “That’s ok, you’ve made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, how do we correct this, do damage control or even turn it into a surprise positive? What can I learn here?”
If it’s option A chances are you’ll feel terrible, option B will most likely lead to a more resilient mood and positive outcome instead. Commonly, your go-to and natural state might be option A, that’s ok knowing this will be helpful in future.
I’d like you to do this exercise more diligently on the days that you are feeling miserable. You need to write down exactly how you talked yourself into being that miserable. Once you’ve identified the tone of this conversation you can change it. Also, remember that sometimes outside circumstances such as bereavement are the cause of internal pain, it’s normal to experience loss and ok to take time to grieve, this shouldn’t be confused with self-loathing.
How does your internal conversation sound? Is it loving or harsh? The first time I did this exercise I was quite shocked how terrible my conversation was, filled with self-loathing and snap judgements.
How to Be Kind and Loving to Yourself
I can easily turn this post into an easy five-step plan to self-love. Or give you a list of affirmations that will temporarily change your tone (I have included helpful daily practices below). However, in my experience, it’s not that simple. Self-love is a lifelong process and not necessarily a one-off quick fix that will solve all your problems and you’re done.
Having a system to recognise the root cause of your emotions, however, can help you build resilience in the long term. You’ll perhaps have long periods of self-love and then you’ll potentially fall back into loathing at some point. Again this is ok, as long as you can recognise the process you can change it.
How do you change this conversation, you may ask? I’d like you to take a step back and talk to yourself the way you’d like your best friend in the world to talk to you. What would this friend say? Your friend will most likely start with kindness, I’d like you to start there. Then say those words out loud if you have to. But say them either way. I know my best friend will sometimes be tough, yes, she’s not always cuddly and soft but she’ll always be kind and loving as she cares about my wellbeing.
Her words will most likely be something like, “It’s ok, honey. I’m so sorry that this happened. Let’s go for a walk, and talk about it”. Or something along those lines, you get the picture right? You might have to pretend a little more the first few times you do this, but with more practice, you’ll nail it! Know that not everything in the world is your fault and sometimes you’ll mess up, it’s what makes us all human. Once you’ve accepted this, the process of self-love becomes easier.
The most important thing to recognise is that you’re in control of your internal conversation, turn it into a loving one and you’ll change your life.
Start a Daily Gratitude and Self-Love Practice
A helpful way to be more loving to yourself is to live in gratitude. This can be a daily ritual or affirmation that you can include in your daily practice. There is a reason why so many successful people are advocates of a gratitude practice, they understand the power this has in cultivating success and self-love. And yes, no matter what your circumstances might be there is always something to be grateful for.
So I’d like you to list 3 things you are grateful for about yourself, and 3 things to be grateful for about your life. And repeat this every morning. It doesn’t have to be the same things every day, you can evolve them.
Your points of gratitude can be simple things like being grateful that you’re kind and loving towards yourself or saying thanks for a pet, the sun shining or the rain that is falling and replenishing the earth. The aim is to focus on the blessings you do have and not the things that are lacking. Even in times of crises, there is always something to be grateful for.
A daily meditation practice might also be helpful to you and is worth exploring.
Spending Mindful Time in Nature
The natural world is a wonderful thing. It’s hard not to be inspired by its absolute perfection. If you’re feeling disconnected and isolated, the best place to go is somewhere you can hear the birds sing or the sound or the ocean if you live by the coast. This might be the local park or your garden. Spending time in nature is good for the soul and can instantly clear the mind to help you focus on your internal conversation. Take your daily gratitude practice outside on occasion, feel the energy and vibration of the air around you.
Regularly spending time in nature, even if you live in a city, by taking a mindful walk is a great way to re-set and destress from the madness that goes on around us. Just focus on the sound of your steps, the birds or the wind for a few moments it will clear the air for love to flow in and around you.
Developing Sustainable Connections
Once you’ve progressed in the practice of self-love and kindness you’ll likely start to recognise toxic relationships and damaging practices that you’ll have to let go of. These can include friends that are always involved in some kind of drama etc.
You’re also likely to realise that you don’t need to purchase things to make yourself happy anymore, which might mean that you’ll naturally move to a more minimalistic and sustainable life that makes room for what is really important. True connection with yourself as well as people who have the same motivations and mindset as you.
Once you start to notice that you might not need a toxic friend, the latest and greatest shoes, bags or gadgets to be happy or feel loved you can start to let go and make space for things that nourish you. I’m not saying you should quit your job, sell everything and live off the land (you can if that’s what you’d like to do). But a declutter of your life will create space for more love and joy to flow into your personal space. It’s an exciting journey, it might feel uncomfortable from time to time, but just imagine being surrounded by people and things that bring you joy and love without any drama every day!