Learning how to First Love Yourself (FLY) can be a lifelong journey. Many of us start life with examples and challenges that are designed by our soul to instigate a search for self-love. For some, this journey takes us through the experience of someone else believing in us before we can realize love for ourselves. Others are born with a sublime clarity when it comes to love. Yet, no matter what your path or level of awareness, loving yourself is the answer.

Ernest Holmes, the author of Science of Mind, once wrote that, “The world has learned all it should through suffering.” Is suffering really about forgetting to love ourselves? If so, then learning how to FLY is an essential part of awakening to your spiritual magnificence.

If you have chosen the life-path of suffering, struggle or dysfunction in your younger years then you will have negative examples of love planted within the subconscious mind. While under the strong influence of powerful feelings it can be easy to underestimate and forget the power of past thoughts. Ernest Holmes clarified this when he said, “A [person] thinks and supposes [they] let go of those thoughts. But such is not the case, for thought becomes [embedded] in [the subconscious] mind, like a seed planted in the soil. And unless neutralized it stays there and determines the attraction, the impulsion and the experience of the one thinking.”

Neutralizing old thoughts planted in our subconscious mind is possible, even though they are the result of our inexperienced minds processing examples of how we should love. The first step is to consciously make a decision and set an intention. One approach to neutralizing old thoughts includes a series of exercises and mental attitudes summarized by the acronym, GRATEFUL.

G – Gentle with yourself

R – Reframe your thinking

A – Affirm positive thoughts

T – Trust yourself

E – Eliminate self-criticism

F – Forgive yourself for past mistakes

U – Unload worry

L – Listen to your feelings

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Gentle with yourself

Being gentle with yourself is about learning how to love all that you are. Falling in love with your flaws or shadow is an opportunity that’s inviting you to awaken to your spiritual magnificence. Loving our shadow–our inner child and those aspects of our personality that are less than our aspirations–is the most effective way to dissolve and integrate it. In addition, wisdom comes from acceptance and integration of all that we are. Loving-kindness really is the answer.

Reframe your Thinking

Reframing your thinking can be as simple as changing how you greet people, or making the conscious choice to think positively. When I greet people I often ask them how they are. When I hear responses such as, “Not bad.” I counter with, “That’s better than bad then?” For many this elicits a smile and a correction of their own thinking. Thinking positively in all areas of your life really is a choice that can transform your life.

Affirm Positive Thoughts

Affirming positive thoughts about yourself daily is a powerful spiritual practice. Some of us make efforts to share our affirmations with others in order that they might be inspired. At www.knowtheflow.ca simple daily affirmations that can easily remembered are published during the week to support this practice. Whether you’ve borrowed the affirmations of others or create your own, repeating affirmations aloud several times per day is a powerful way to reprogram old false beliefs. You can extend this practice by visioning to clarify your heart and soul’s desire, and build your affirmations around this visualization.

Trust yourself

Trusting yourself is really about recognizing that when you put your heart into something, when you claim your deepest conviction of your unlimited potential, there is nothing you cannot do. I can is infinitely more important than IQ. Love is not about how clever you are. Your unlimited potential comes down to how certain you are.

Eliminate Self-Criticism

Eliminating self-criticism is making the decision to stop beating yourself up. You might recall an early scene in The Da Vinci Code. The movie opens with a monk whipping his back to a bloody mess as a way of purging his mistakes. This scene looks painful, but physical scars are not as profound as the metaphysical scarring we imprint upon the subconscious mind through mental self-flagellation. There is a delicate balance. We should not go into denial about our choices or feelings, but neither should we beat ourselves up incessantly either. It is important that we don’t do spiritual bypass, but find a way to compassionately mix self-honesty with spiritual authority.

Forgive yourself for past Mistakes

Forgiving yourself for mistakes of the past is a sibling to eliminating self-criticism. Regret is energy used destructively–a use of our unlimited potential that works against our aspirations. Forgive yourself and let your mistakes go. Give yourself the gift of seeing yourself as before.

Unload Worry

Unloading worry really comes down to surrendering the outcome. When we worry about something we are forgetting to trust that Spirit has the how. Instead, we might opt to think about how we can help ourselves, or others, in our thoughts, words and deeds. Worry takes away our peace. Unloading worry creates an opening for love.

Listen to your Feelings

Listening to your feelings is about being truthful with yourself. Feelings are good, especially those that feel horrible. We might not realize it at the time, but feelings are actually the messenger of beliefs we have and surface from old seeds that have been planted. It is our response to feelings that is the constructive or destructive (wholesome or unwholesome) element. Listen to your sadness as much as your joy. We should listen to all negative feelings. Anger, guilt, grief, boredom, loneliness, frustration or depression are all messengers for the purpose of our awakening. You can adopt a four-step process to listen to your feelings:

  1. Name the feeling: When you listen to your feelings it will be easier to name the feeling. Acknowledge that you are angry.
  2. Identify the cause: Then identify the cause of the feeling. Allow that inner intelligence that is God through you to inspire you as to the false belief. Perhaps your anger is offering you feedback that you’ve perceived something as unfair.
  3. Address the cause: After you have identified the feeling’s cause face it. You might look at what is behind the feeling of unfairness. Has someone acted in unfair way? Have you bought into a story that is not actually truth? Once you’ve identified the cause act on what you’ve realized.
  4. Affirm the spiritual truth: After you’ve acted in a pragmatic way on the cause look to the spiritual ideal and create an affirmation.

Being GRATEFUL

Being GRATEFUL offers a series of reminders and practices you can undertake to cultivate a deeper love for yourself. You already have everything you need. As Ernest Holmes reminds us, “We are dealing with the same power that molds the planets and all that is upon them. Our ability to use this power is not principle, but in our understanding of it.” Claim that power for yourself and remember that your understanding of love for yourself will dictate how love shows up in your life. Before we can experience the love we aspire to in this life we must learn how to FLY.

Carmien's purpose is to inspire people to awaken to their spiritual magnificence. His primary passion is the pursuit of spirituality, and he does that through extensive practice, study, song writing, developing the spiritual vehicle at www.knowtheflow.ca, and working rigorously toward receiving his Ministerial designation with the Centres for Spiritual Living. You can follow @KnowTheFlow on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook. He is also preparing to publish his first book titled, Know the Flow: 180 Blogs to Spiritual Awakening in the fall of 2013.

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