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How to love yourself

We hear a lot about self love these days, but what exactly is it and more to the point, how to we actually do it? Because let’s be honest, for most of us loving ourselves doesn’t come easily and it feels a bit cringe sometimes to even talk about it!

For me, when I think about self love, these are the kinds of things that come to mind:

     

      • Self love is relating to myself in a loving and kind way, rather than being judgemental or overly critical. 

       

        • It’s the way I talk to myself in my own mind.

         

          • It’s the way I show up for myself when I’m feeling upset, disappointed, angry or afraid. 

           

            • It’s the understanding I have about why I do the things I do and why I am the way I am.

             

              • It’s what I will and won’t accept in terms of treatment from others. 

               

                • It’s how I set boundaries and take my own needs into account.

                 

                  • It’s my ability to stand up for myself and believe in my inherent goodness and innocence. 

                   

                    • It’s how quickly I can forgive myself when I fall short of my own expectations.

                     

                      • It’s appreciating my uniqueness, my quirks, my faults, my specialness, my differences – and accepting it all as part of my wonderful messy experience in this crazy human life!

                    Phew! That sounds like a lot. And it is. 

                    Self love is definitely a journey, not somewhere you one day arrive and then stay evermore. 

                    Self love is an internal experience, which then gets reflected back out into the outside world. It forms the very basis from which you operate in the world. It determines how you show up, both inside and outside.

                    Self love is worth cultivating, because it feels so darn good! 

                    Imagine having a best friend by your side day in day out, loving, supporting you, encouraging you,  listening to you, keeping you company – wouldn’t that be amazing? Well that’s what self love feels like. 

                    So how do we get there?

                    Little kids are brilliant at loving themselves. It comes so naturally. Love is everywhere and is our natural original state. So if that’s the case, what’s gets in the way? What happens as we grow up to cause us to lose this natural connection with love?

                    In a word, conditioning. 

                    From a very young age we are conditioned away from self love. We are taught in many different ways to look outside of ourselves for love and acceptance. We are taught that there are authority figures who know more than you and you should listen to them rather than your own internal knowings. 

                    This is survival in a very real way – we need our parents/care givers approval for survival so will sacrifice our authenticity for sake of the attachment. (Which is not to blame our parents – they are also conditioned in the same way, and it’s conditioning that runs very deep).

                    We learn there are parts of us that are acceptable (when we’re being pleasant and happy and doing what our parents want), and there are parts of us that are unacceptable (when we’re emotional, tired, cranky etc). So we start to disown certain aspects of ourselves.  

                    And when those aspects show up, we judge them, just like our parents/care givers/authority figures did. This forms what’s commonly known as the “shadow” self.

                    We are also conditioned towards comparison and competition – this often starts at school, with sporting competitions, academic testing, prize givings and so on. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, but generally they don’t celebrate people’s individuality, but rather only recognise certain things as valuable and worthy of celebration. If you don’t fit in to this category, it can really affect the view you have of yourself. Even those who are very successful at school, can find themselves under incredible pressure to continue to perform and please their parents and teachers. 

                    Then as we get older we are exposed to media, advertising, social media – comparison gets even stronger!

                    We internalise all these messages, and the overall effect is “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy unless I’m a particular way” and we think the way to change that is to hate and judge the parts of us that we have decided aren’t good enough. 

                    So, many of us are very hard on ourselves. The internal voice is highly critical, we are trained to see our faults, we didn’t necessarily get the love and nurturing that we needed growing up, so we think we aren’t worthy of love, respect and kindness.

                    Underlying beliefs such as: I don’t deserve love. I need to earn love. There’s something wrong with me. I’l love myself once I lose weight, once I have a partner, when I’ve grown my business, when I’ve got x amount of money etc – are all the result of wounding and conditioning in childhood. 

                    This may all sound a bit overwhelming, sorry! But we need to see the conditioning for what it is, so we can unpack it, understand where it came from, and begin to challenge it, and move on from the past.

                    The real key to self love is to understand that you don’t need to earn it! You are worthy of love. Period.

                    It’s about having COMPASSION for yourself. 

                    Staying PRESENT with whatever is going on for you. 

                    FEELING your emotions and meeting them with understanding.

                    Talking to yourself with KINDNESS.

                    Cultivating an attitude of CURIOSITY not judgement about your behaviour. 

                    APPRECIATING all the different parts of you. 

                    It is possible, I promise. 🙂

                    If you would like some help learning how to love yourself, please reach out to info@alarnacarlsson.com.

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