Your relationship with yourself is not all that different from your relationship with other people. In fact, what kind of relationship you have with yourself will influence your existing relationships with others.

One of the most important things you can do in life is have a loving relationship with yourself, like any relationship, relationships take work on an ongoing basis. Even if you do feel you love yourself, never take yourself for-granted, maintain that loving relationship with self. If you don't feel you love yourself, it's about time to focus on perhaps one of the most important things you can do.

You may have heard that you can't truly love another person unless you love yourself. While technically I don't believe that to be entirely true, certainly we can feel mixed feelings toward both self and other, and emotions are far from black and white. However, we cannot allow ourselves to truly -feel- loved by another person fully until we can love ourselves fully enough to feel worthy enough to allow ourselves to receive that love. We may feel desperate for love, but if a part of us feels unworthy it doesn't matter how much we love our partner or our partner loves us, we will feel that something is missing, a void inside... that is the void that can only be filled from the well of one's own soul, and is that of self love.

Like all relationships, learning to communicate with yourself is key. Patience is key.

It can be helpful to acknowledge right away that there is a part of yourself that loves you. You may have a lot of self love, or you may have so little that you're skeptical as you're reading this when I say there IS a part of yourself that loves you. It's the part that's interested in reading this here now, it's the part that is hopeful.

Let yourself as best you can, feel that part of you, that cares about you, what does that part of you feel like? The loving part of you that loves yourself? Get to know that part of yourself, try to listen to that part of yourself.

The first steps to loving yourself, are getting to know yourself, and accepting yourself. That doesn't just mean focusing on the parts of yourself you like, it means facing your demons. It means getting honest with yourself about the parts of yourself you don't like and accepting those too. Just because you accept parts of yourself and love them, doesn't mean you can't work toward changing them, in fact, we often cannot change what we cannot fully acknowledge and accept. Acceptance doesn't mean condoning current harmful behaviors toward yourself and others that you might have, it simply means acknowledging they are a facet of who you are now as a whole person who is deserving of love.

Sometimes it can be helpful to think of yourself as two parts, the parenting part that is going to love and take care of yourself, and then the part of you that needs to learn to love and be loved. If the loving part of you was going to take care of someone they loved and adored, how would you treat them, how would you talk to them, how would you treat yourself if you were your own soul mate? your own baby/toddler/child? your own ailing grandparent? Would your self talk be the same?

Listen to how you talk to yourself in your head, and try to encourage and remind that loving part of you to take over more, and quiet the negative voices. Do your best to listen to and encourage that part of you that does care about you to let you take care of yourself.

Being honest with yourself is a big part of that. Listening to what your feeling, recognizing your own feelings and thoughts, figuring out where they're coming from and why, whether they're ultimately serving the purpose of making you a happier more loving compassionate person, or whether you're getting in your own way.

Being patient and gentle with yourself when you're less than perfect, and to just keep doing the best you can day by day, moment by moment, and trying not to beat yourself up when you feel you've failed, but learn from it and grow from it instead.

It gets easier, with practice, like anything else.

Where do you begin to love yourself... start with a hello, strike up a conversation with yourself, don't be afraid to talk to yourself, don't be afraid to listen... and it doesn't hurt if you take yourself out to dinner and a movie or buy yourself flowers now and then...


Leila Raven

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Comment by Leila Raven on July 23, 2011 at 9:51am
Thanks Stuart, and as Linda says, you can undo the behaviors that are holding you back. Be gentle and patient with self, we'll never be 'perfect' but it's our imperfections that make us wonderfully and uniquely us, so do your best to love who you are as you move onward towards the you you'd love to be.
Comment by Leila Raven on July 4, 2011 at 8:15am

I'm glad you found it helpful Robert, I think many of us internalized similar messages as children leading to guilt and shame around some of our feelings. We feel what we feel and how we feel is always legitimate. What is important is how we choose to act on and/or express those feelings.

Any emotions can be catalysts for positive creation... some of the most amazing creations, art, music, literature, etc, may have been born primarily out of strong sadness/depression, anger, etc, or have fueled acts of activism that have changed the world.

Raging or despairing are not negative in and of themselves, they are negative if we allow them to be a destructive force, however we need not apply them in a destructive fashion, learning to channel strong emotions of sadness or anger into positive creative channels can be very productive, and liberating. Paint it out on a canvas, write it out in a story, bang it out on a drum or a keyboard, or lead a protest march... anger becomes a positive emotion for positive change and creation/growth.

The key is to channel our emotions and control where we apply their 'energy' instead of letting them control us.

When we start to accept them as not necessarily 'negative'  emotions and feelings we are entitled to that are natural and a part of who we are, and eliminate shame and guilt around them, we can utilize them as positive catalysts in our life.

It is amazing yes, how those early messages can become so strongly ingrained, that even if logically we know better, they seem to take over. We can fight back and make change to overcome early 'programming' it takes effort... emotional effort, that is often hard to do that emotional work needed to confront ourselves and our feelings, but it's well worth the effort as even small changes and improvements can be extremely emotionally liberating and lead to big changes in self-actualization and true happiness that comes with greater self acceptance.

Comment by Leila Raven on May 31, 2011 at 8:26pm

Linda, I think it really is human nature, when tragedies hit, to try to rack our minds as to how they may have been prevented, to go through the what if's and the should have or could have... the reality is we don't know how the universe works with these things.

To take responsibility and blame self to some degree is a tendency for many of us. Letting go and surrendering and learning to forgive and love self is a good place to get to... I don't know if it's possible as a human to be fully there, I suspect it's part of journey to do our best though.

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