What do you see when you look in the mirror? Or perhaps a more relevant question is, 'who's the most important person in your life?' Some people will regard their boss or work as their top priority, and of course earning money, supporting their family and having something, hopefully fulfilling, with which to occupy themselves is important.
For others relationships are the answer; their children, friends, family or partner top their list every time. Then of course, we all know someone rather smug who says without a second thought that they are the most important person in their life! They'd buy tickets to see themselves in concert!
Today, though, we're reflecting on the type of self-love which recognises that making decisions to look after ourselves means taking responsibility for our own health and happiness. When we do that, everyone in our lives also benefits. I'd like to share some tips to help you manage the negative events, hurts and disappointments that happen in life which impact on our expectations and influence our view of the world.
Here are ten ways to practice self-love.
- Introduce 'reasonable' affirmations. Saying 'I'm gorgeous/beautiful/perfect' is enough to give many people a bad case of indigestion, but being reasonable in our self talk enables us to say something like 'I am taking positive steps everyday', 'I am moving towards my goals and feeling good about myself'. Find something positively phrased, that sits well with you and repeat it daily.This practice can help to change your mindset and overcome years of unfortunate conditioning.
- Do things that you do well. Even, in fact, especially, in a busy life, it's important to schedule time for things that you're good at, so that you remind yourself how capable you are. Playing sport, baking a cake, doing some handiwork, even helping someone out are all ways to boost your self-love and bolster your confidence and self-esteem.
- Encourage others to be appreciative of you. Self-love can benefit when others show that they value you, the help you've given them or the ways you've supported their lives. Be okay about drawing their attention to your endeavours and training them to be appreciative.
- Be gracious in accepting praise. So many of us are embarrassed or uncomfortable about praise or compliments. Instead of shrugging it off smile, be gracious and absorb it. That way everyone concerned feels good.
- Tackle the overwhelm and break tough tasks into bite-sized chunks. Self-love can suffer when we feel swamped or don't know where to start. Could fear or perfectionism play a part in this state of mind and, if so, start to address those issues.
- Build your team. Delegate, even to children at home. Let them feel involved and responsible for chores like setting the table or folding the laundry. At work encourage people to improve their skills - they may even come up with good ideas and better ways of doing things. Consider hiring help so that you get the best person to do the job, like your accounts, social media, PR or marketing. Then you can feel self-love as you do the tasks you're uniquely equipped to do.
- Learn to say 'no' well. No can be the most positive word in your vocabulary when used in the right way, at the right time, with the right person. Without it you can end up running yourself ragged, feeling used, resentful and stressed out.
- Ask for help. Do you expect other people to be psychic and know what's going on in your mind, how you're feeling, what you need? Practice self-love and communicate what you need from others. Communication is also about listening well. So be interested and attentive in your relationships and allow them to thrive.
- Take time out. Breaks are an important part of managing stress and learning to love and respect yourself. Identify the times when you typically start to feel unwell, tense, edgy and find ways to take breaks before this occurs. Go outside for a walk, enjoy some fruit, read a book, listen to music, take a relaxing bath. Maybe even put yourself in your diary like you would an important client, and honour that appointment!
- Learn to say 'yes' too at times. Self-love is about stepping outside your comfort zone and occasionally scaring yourself a little. And often when we say 'yes' to seemingly impossible opportunities it's amazing how doors start to open to support those situations. Keep a 'happy' or 'success' book and record those mini-triumphs. Then you'll have a log which supports you in more difficult times.
Self-love engages all the different elements of your life. When you establish strong roots the tree will grow confident and firm, able to weather the storms that come its way. Then, when you look in the mirror, you'll see a positive reflection that's vibrant, joyous and ready to break out of the limits of its frame.