Put a Little (Self) Love in Your Heart

In the 2007 Disney film, “Enchanted,” the character Nathaniel sincerely asks Prince Edward the question “Sire, do you ever not like yourself?” to which the prince responds frankly, “What’s not to like?” We find this response humorous, but it makes me ponder over this question, “How is each of our relationships with ourselves?” My guess is that when it comes to self-love, the automatic thought that may come to our minds is, “Are you talking about being conceded?”  We do live in a world often emphasizing self over others, but it is possible and vital to love one’s self as much as we love others.

In my experience working with individuals in a therapeutic setting, it can be much easier to love, respect, show compassion toward, give the benefit of the doubt to others, and much harder to feel these things for ourselves. In most cases, how we feel about ourselves may be in direct correlation to how we feel about others. How we perceive ourself affects how we function, whether it be in our interactions with others (externally) or how we respond to ourselves (internally). As such, it is in our best interest to improve the quality or our relationship with self. Here are three ways to accomplish such a goal.

1.       Practice Setting Realistic Expectations for Yourself

Some women have a tendency struggle in this area. Acknowledging there is typically an endless list of things to accomplish in a day, there is also only so much time to accomplish such a list. We’ve all likely had days (perhaps every day) we wish there were either multiple copies of ourselves or we had super human speed and agility. Since neither of these is humanly possible (at least not to my knowledge), why not take deep breaths and practice acknowledging we are doing all we can with some room to improve. If your habit is to self-scrutinize, I pose these questions: How’s that working for ya? Does it motive you to do better? To be better?

2.       Accept Compliments from Others with Grace

Ask yourself, what is your initial reaction when given a compliment? Is it to dispute it, minimize it, or completely dismiss it? If that same individual who gave you the compliment were to compliment someone else, would you react by thinking “Well, they’re really not that great. I mean, anyone could do what they are doing”? If so, practice noticing this reaction and stop, think about the compliment, and drink it in a little. “You know, I’m not really a bad mom” or “I actually am pretty good at my career… at least that’s what my clients tell me”.

3.       If You Can get #2 Down, Try Complimenting Yourself!

At the end of your day, try writing down a few things in which you succeeded. It doesn’t have to be huge. I mean really, it can be as simple as “I did awesome at keeping my kids alive.” If your automatic thoughts are ready to oppose your self-compliments, it’s okay! You’re probably not used to thinking in those terms, but your brain will adjust. New neuropathways will be formed for self-sustaining thoughts rather than self-deprecating.

A hard and slow process? You bet! But keep at it! I guarantee with consistency, you will start to see results.

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