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Thoughts from Vintage Yoga...

Cultivating Self-Love

Yes, it’s been a few weeks since I posted, and the last time I talked about why self-love is so important. In quick summary, it’s important because if you don’t love yourself, you’re likely to have a difficult time in other relationships in your life. When you don’t value yourself, you put yourself down, you put other people first, and you reach a point where you become resentful of others in your life simply because you have trained them to take advantage of you.

There are many things you can do to cultivate self-love so I’m only going to touch on a few. One of the very first things you can do to begin your self-love journey is become aware of your true feelings about yourself. It’s hard to change, if you don’t know that you need to. Begin with awareness – Becoming aware is an important first step for beginning to change. Right now, if I told you not to think about a big black dog, you’re going to have a hard time not thinking about a big black dog. Until you read those words, you weren’t thinking of a big black dog, right? I created the awareness of the big black dog. Don’t worry, you’ll stop thinking about the big black dog in a little while.

It works kind of the same way when you’re embarking upon a journey of cultivating self-love. Once you become aware of the need for self-love, you can no longer not see the need. So perhaps, after reading some of the indicators of lack of self-love, you have become AWARE that self-love is something you want to work on. Now that you know you need to work on self-love, you can’t unknow it.

If you aren’t sure, become aware of how you think and speak about yourself. If you are super critical about yourself, then this is something you’ll want to start paying attention to. Begin noticing when you are being critical of yourself and then become curious about why you feel that way. Then, show yourself some love with reassuring self-talk that encourages you to be kinder to yourself. That’s it! Just be kinder to yourself. Simple, but not always easy.

Another way to love yourself is to take care of yourself first. Yes, I said take care of yourself FIRST. We’ve been trained to always put others first to the point that we don’t take care of ourselves or we feel guilty when we do. Something you must know is that it is OK to take care of yourself. Think about it, how can you effectively care for others when you are exhausted, depleted, and maybe even unhappy?

Speaking of taking care of yourself, self-care is another way to show yourself some love. When I say self-care, I’m not just talking about pampering yourself with a manicure once or twice a year, going shopping (especially if that shopping is going to leave you with feelings of guilt), or getting a massage. I’m talking about the day to day things that will lift your spirits. Things like taking a walk outdoors, preparing and eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting proper rest. While these things may seem like one more thing I have to do, they go a long way in helping you feel better and feel better about yourself.

And finally, how about giving perfectionism a good swift kick in the ism! How much time and energy do you waste trying to get things “perfect”? And then, when things aren’t “perfect” what do you do? Beat yourself up? Beat yourself down? Be honest with yourself here. The truth about perfectionism is that there’s really no such thing as “perfect.” Come on, deep down inside, you know that. So why sacrifice your self-love over this illusion of perfection?

These are just a few ideas to help you get started on your self-love journey. Please don’t feel like you have to do all of these suggestions. Just choose one that feels doable for you and give it a try. Put it on your calendar or on a sticky note somewhere to help you remember to do it. If you do really well for a week or so and then stop doing it, try not to be critical of yourself, just start over. That’s the beauty of life, everyday we get to start over. Keep starting over, be patient with yourself, and before you know it, your new practice will be come a HABIT. Please feel free to share which strategy you choose and let me know how it goes for you.

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