We are born with an instinctual understanding of some of the most important basics of life. We’re born knowing how to trust our instincts, how to breathe deeply, how to eat only when we’re hungry, how to not care about what anyone thinks of our singing voices, dance moves or hair-dos, we know how to play, create and love without holding back. Then, as we grow and learn from the people around us, we replace many of these primal understandings with negative false beliefs, fear, shame and self-doubt.
We arrive here as perfect little bundles of joy and then set about the task of learning to un-love ourselves! How unbelievably ridiculous is that?! Self-love, the simplest yet most powerful thing ever, flies right out the window when we start taking in outside information.
Imagine what our world would be like if everyone loved themselves so much that they weren’t threatened by other people’s opinions or skin colors or sexual preferences or talents or education or possessions or lack of possessions or religious beliefs or customs or their general tendency to just be whoever the hell they are. Imagine how different your reality would be if you woke up every morning certain of your own lovability and your critically important role on this planet. And if you poo-pooed shame, guilt, self-doubt and self-loathing and allowed yourself to be, do and have everything your little heart desired.
THAT’S the kind of world I want to live in.
In the interest of perpetuating such radical, reality-altering self-love, here are some of the best ways to win yourself over again:
1. APPRECIATE HOW SPECIAL YOU ARE
There will never be anyone exactly like you. You were given special gifts and talents to share with the world, and even though everybody has special gifts and talents, nobody will use theirs quite the same way you do. You have a way of being in the world and a perspective that’s unique to you. You are the only one who thinks your thoughts the way you think them. You have created your own unique reality and are living your life according to your own unique path. You are the only you that will ever be. You are kind of a big deal.
2. DROWN YOURSELF IN AFFIRMATIONS
Trust me, I wouldn’t do this to you unless I had to, but affirmations work. If you want to turn the ship around, you need to rewire your brain and train it to think differently. And this is what affirmations can do for you.
Figure out which affirmations you need to hear the most and repeat them all day long in your head, in the car, while you’re walking down the street pretending to be on the phone, under your breath in line at the DMV. Write them on Post-it notes and stick them around your house, on your mirrors, in your refrigerator, in your car. Write down your favorite affirmations ten times every morning and ten times every night before you go to bed and say them out loud.
The more emotion you feel around what you’re saying, the more power it will have to bring about positive change. And yes, at the beginning it may feel like you’re lying to yourself, but the truth is, you’re living the lie, so the affirmations get you back to truth.
3. DO THINGS YOU LOVE
When you constantly deny yourself the people, food, things and experiences that make you feel the most alive, that sends a pretty lousy message home. If you hear yourself saying things like “I love going out to see live music! I can’t remember the last time I did it,” make time.
We’re all busy, but it’s the people who make enjoying their lives a priority who enjoy their lives. It’s about being proactive about creating a life you love instead of meekly living the one you think you’re stuck with. Give yourself the gift of a joyous life while you’re still among the living.
Also, if you’re the kind of person who puts everyone else’s needs first, start putting yours up front. Take care of yourself as if you’re the most awesome person you’ve ever met.
4. FIND A REPLACEMENT
We’ve gotten so used to our negative knee-jerk reactions to ourselves that we never think to question them—we simply take them as the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But once we become aware of our thought patterns and behaviors, we can consciously change them. So start paying attention.
For example, if every time you look in the mirror, your first thought is yikes, make a conscious effort to change it to hi, gorgeous!
If your standard response to screwing something up is ugh, Her Royal Clumsiness strikes again, replace it with what can I learn from this?
The most important thing is to free yourself from the drama and the conviction that your current version of yourself is the truth.
Do not spend your life clinging to the insulting decisions you’ve made about yourself. Instead, make the conscious choice to replace them with new and improved ones.
5. DITCH THE SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOR
Incessant self-deprecating humor is for losers. I get it—it can be hilariously funny and I’m totally guilty of it from time to time. If you’re one of those people who falls back on making fun of yourself, every hour on the hour, not only are you basically begging people to think you’re a loser, but you’re begging yourself to think you’re a loser. Why on earth would you do that to your awesome self?
What you tell yourself on a daily basis is more powerful than you know. Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits and our habits become our realities.
Push yourself to come up with a new script. Your confidence will thank you.
6. LET THE LOVE IN
Receive compliments gracefully instead of countering with a disclaimer such as, “Oh, this ratty old thing?” Try this instead: “Thank you.” Period.
Take care of your body, too. During our little sojourn here on earth, we need our bodies more than they need us. Say nice things about your body, dress it up and take it out. Give it hot sex, luxurious baths and massages. Move it, stretch it, nourish it, hydrate it, pay attention to it—The better our bodies feel, the happier and more productive we are.
7. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Have you ever done something that you’re so proud of and feel all on top of the world about until you see that someone else has done something similar that, in your mind, is better, and all of a sudden you feel sad?
It’s none of your business what other people are doing. All that matters is that you’re enjoying yourself and pleased with what you’re creating. It’s precisely your uniqueness that makes you awesome— deciding that someone else’s uniqueness is better than your own isn’t exactly being your own best buddy about things.
You are more than enough. Avoid comparison like the plague.
8. FORGIVE YOURSELF (LISTEN UP! THIS ONE’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.)
You have screwed up in the past. You will screw up again. Every human is born with the ability to make spectacular mistakes. Get over it. Dragging around guilt and self-criticism is beyond unhealthy and is utterly pointless, not to mention boring. Here’s an excellent way to do it:
Think of a specific thing that you did that you feel badly about. Call it up in your mind and feel it in your body. Repeat the following over and over while thinking of it and really feel what you’re saying to yourself:
Holding on to my bad feelings about this is doing nothing but harming me, and everyone else, and preventing me from enjoying my life fully. I am an awesome person. I choose to enjoy my life. I choose to let this go.
Repeat this until you feel a sense of freedom and lightness around your issue. It may take a day or a week or several months or it could happen right away. Do it, because if you want to be free, you have to put in the time. And if you need to apologize to someone, pick up the phone.
9. LOVE YOURSELF
Because it’s the Holy Grail of happiness.