According to Webster’s Dictionary, love is a (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests b : an assurance of affection 2: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
From these definitions, it is difficult to understand what is meant by the term self-love? Many individuals believe that when a person declares love for self it is an ego-centered statement. A declaration which means the individual is conceited or egotistical, even Webster’s Dictionary defines it this way. When I refer to self-love, I’m meaning a regard for one’s own happiness not in an “I don’t care about anyone else” sort of way, but in the sense that “I recognize my God-given right to be worthy and accepting of happiness by pursuing the activities I enjoy and surrounding myself with people who treat me with love and respect.”
When used in this context, self-love becomes a cornerstone to loving your life, living out your purpose, and even having the ability to love someone else. Many of the individuals I treat are suffering from a lack of self-love. They have no idea how wonderful they are, and how much they have to offer the world. They come to me feeling broken and beat down by life. They believe they are victims of their circumstances, upbringings, economic status and environments. I can easily see this in them because for many years, I too believed I was a victim of circumstance rather than the creator of my life. I began to wake-up to my harming self-talk. I would observe myself saying, “If only I was born into a family of higher economic status.” “If only my family lived somewhere else.” “If only I hadn’t been abused or this or that trauma hadn’t happened to me.” The list of if only’s can go on and on forever leaving you feeling more and more helpless.
We all have a tendency, at times, to feel like victims especially when something painful happens. We have a habit of wanting to blame someone else for life's difficulties. This way we do not have to take responsibility for our feelings, actions, thoughts, or the state of our lives. We can make excuses for why we are unhappy, unlovable, and/or unsuccessful. Developing self-love is vital to becoming the creator in your life rather than a victim of your life. You need to get to know who you really are without others telling you who you should be or what you should be doing. You need to become your own best friend.
Many people have asked me, “How do I become my own best friend and learn to love myself?” You can begin by creating a physical list of the activities you enjoy. If you do not know what activities you take pleasure in, look through magazines, surf the web, go to the library or department stores and notice which sections and subject areas you are drawn too. Then commit to trying one new activity each week. You can also make a list of the things you have always wanted to do but have put off doing because you didn't want to do them alone. Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and choose to do an activity from that list alone. Once you make friends with yourself, you will no longer feel the stabbing pains of loneliness. You may, from time to time, still feel lonely, but the deep hollow pain of being alone will dissipate.
Another exercise in developing self-love is to write down 10 qualities you love about yourself. If you struggle with identifying these qualities, ask a trusted friend, teacher, counselor, or family member for help. Read the list out loud to yourself daily while paying attention to the physical sensations in your body as you read each quality. Do you notice any tension anywhere? Is there a feeling of resistance or one of openness? What does the space feel like around your heart? When you read one of the qualities do you feel tightness in your chest? Does your body move forward, backward or stay in the same position?
Many individuals find a feeling of disbelief and physical resistance appears when they begin verbalizing the qualities. This is often a sign that this person does not believe that they are worthy of love. Believing that you are not worthy of love will keep love away. We are all worthy of receiving love. Denying yourself love is equivalent to telling God he made a mistake in creating you. God does not make mistakes and the best way to show gratitude to God is to love who you are and acknowledge your self-worth.
Here are some affirmations that you can say at the beginning and ending of your day to help challenge the belief that you are unworthy of love.
I am worthy of being loved.
I am gaining confidence in myself each day.
I am free to accept myself completely as I am.
I am free to make mistakes and learn from them.
I am a divine spirit having a human experience.
I am proud of the person I am now and the person I am becoming.
I am a unique and wonderful human being.
I am doing the best I know how to do in this moment.
I am challenging myself each day to see the good in me.
I am able to freely give and receive love.
Catrina Stiller is an Intuitive Counselor and Healer. She holds a license as a Practical Counselor and is a National Certified Counselor. She is also level II Reiki certified. Catrina offers intuitive readings, counseling, and energy healing. She also facilitates healing circles and other workshops. Visit her website at www.catrinastiller.com to learn more.