Loving ourselves is the most important aspect of all psychological and physical healing and personal growth. However, remembering/learning to love ourselves can ironically be one of the most difficult things to do in our life. Loving ourselves was intended to be the most natural and easiest thing for us to do and yet our conditioning and culture has taught us otherwise, in fact many believe that it is natural to not love ourselves! Think about how all advertising works, for example, making us feel incomplete and imperfect without whatever it is they’re trying to sell. The consumer culture breeds insecurity and cut throat competition in which ‘I win, you lose’ mentality is promoted along with a deep sense of separation. We are taught that we are never good enough and always need to improve, never be content or satisfied, and always seek for more external things to fill us, but in reality we need nothing external, we have everything we could ever want within us. We have to transcend the pursuit of external gratification if we are ever to find real lasting happiness and fulfillment because with that type of thinking there can never be peace of mind.
The good news is that we can change this, we can remember/learn to truly love ourselves more, or perhaps for the first time, as we start to understand how our mind works and begin to uncover the truth about how we create our unloving attitude towards ourselves. In all forms of healing, we always want to address the cause not the symptom or else we’re not going to get anywhere in the long run, so with that being said remember where unloving behavior comes from… limited ego perceptions. But we have to see that all our unhappiness is created by us, whether consciously or most likely unconsciously, we have to accept this first and foremost. We have to truly see that we are always in control of our state of mind and thus our perception of reality. We always can choose to be conscious (in control) or unconscious (auto pilot) and let negative/destructive thinking govern our mind and life, it’s our choice, it’s our free will.
Our inner world is what dictates our outer world and the two are perfectly matched. What we continuously give our attention to is what we will continually get as a result. Our inner world colors all perception of our outer world, so as we focus on the internal we can change the external, not the other way around. Often we are taught to change and seek after the external but this will never provide us with lasting satisfaction. An easy example is alcohol. We drink, we feel better… that is until we start making destructive decisions or wake up the next day with a hangover and we still have all the same problems if not more so from when we started drinking. Or we want the big promotion and we get it but then later on we want the next one or more money or another job, never satisfied. So if we seek the external we’re going about it backwards and will inevitably always be searching. We have to turn inward first before we can ever change our lives in any true way. We have to be what it is we want. We are the ones that create our reality so the good news is that we can therefore change it. So we can’t get down on ourselves thinking about this fact, instead embrace it as an opportunity to move forward.
For starters lets think about how we have come to not love ourselves in the first place. Everything in our lives can be traced back to a thought, this is an undeniable fact of our physical universe. Nothing exists within the human realm that wasn’t first a thought. As for the negative aspects of our life that means that somewhere along our path we collected thoughts and formed belief systems that reinforced negative thinking. Majority of the time these imprints, shall we call them, can be traced back to one or a few major events that happened in our past related to the subject in question. A belief system will always have a root incidence or many incidences that we developed the belief around. Think about times in our childhood for example, where something someone said or did or some event that happened to us molded and changed us and subsequently led us to be who we are today… I know I can think of hundreds of influential events, people, and situations that molded and changed me to be who I am today, both positively and negatively. Also when I trace the lessons or themes of those influences I can see how my belief systems were formed from what I learned as a child or somewhere along the way in life.
Our parents are the first and usually the most influential role models for us, or whoever we spend the majority of our time with for the first ten years or so of life, because that is when our subconscious is the most susceptible to initial programming. Consciousness is naive and therefore accepts whatever is imprinted onto it. For example, if a child is told that they’re ugly maybe even once, especially if it’s by a parent, they may accept that belief system and live it out always believing that they are ugly and “worse looking” than all the other girls or boys, or it may lead to poor self-esteem in general. Or a common one is if a girl is told she is fat perhaps just even once, if she believes it, can lead to eating disorders and so forth. If you tell a child they are stupid or otherwise incapable often enough they then come to believe it and will live up to the programming. This is especially true for humiliating moments in our lives.
Humiliation and insecurity are absolutely hated by the ego and it will result in a crushed self esteem and depression, a walling off and overcompensating for the insecurity, or the least likely, transcendence of the ego’s attachment. Contrarily, this concept of belief system formation can be applied to positive responses such as compliments from parents or friends. If we have been told repeatedly that we’re good at something or have some wonderful quality about us that we come to believe and accept as true we then incorporate it as a belief system governing our subconscious, thus resulting in increased self-esteem for example. Again, all of these belief systems can be released, erased, and replaced with whatever we want, nothing is permanent in the mind (although plasticity of neurons does decline with age). We must remember we are never trapped by negative/destructive/limiting belief systems and they are not absolute.
What is true is that we are infinitely talented and creative beings that are capable of having, being, and doing anything we desire.
Some ideas for helping us love ourselves more is making a happy journal. I heard of this idea and thought it was really clever. I started thinking about it and it occurred to me that many of us have journals but they are not necessarily “happy” or positive. I know some of my journal entries over the years can actually be very negative based on what was going on in my life at the time. But this concept of writing out our negativity and keeping it doesn’t necessarily always do us any good. It’s never beneficial to dwell of negativity, hurt, pain, and hardship because then you’re just giving it all that energy and time. The more we bring up the past suffering in our lives the more misery, or replication of suffering, we create for ourselves now and in the future. Remember what we focus and give our attention to is what manifests.
I wanted to go over this concept about the possible psychological negative side of effects of a journal. And I’m talking about a “regular” journal where you write whatever you want without any specification as to positive or negative. This can be beneficial when trying to vent frustrations in life or trying to separate yourself from your anger or what have you. But it really doesn’t help in the long run, especially if we keep the journal and read it from time to time. My reasoning for this is that when we’re writing things down we’re most likely reliving the event or pain as we write it. So that’s the first detrimental effect, now we’ve just brought up all that energy again and we’re back in that moment. Now what I do think is beneficial is to get to this point and then crumple it up and say something to the extent of “this is not who I am, it is who I was and I release its power over me” and throw it away. That would be an effective psychological tool since the mind could use the metaphor of throwing the paper away or deleting the entry as a symbol of moving on, progression, forgiveness, and ultimately growth. Moreover, the reason why I discourage the use of a “venting” journal is that if we ever go back and read it again there is a chance we will become angry or negative over the things that were going on when we wrote it. This of course is never going to benefit us because now we just brought all that energy back to the surface yet again. So now we wrote it and brought it all up, then read it again at some future time and are reliving it yet again! When we understand how our mind works and how we create our reality it’s easy to see that it doesn’t do us any good to do this. That’s why I think the ‘happy/gratitude journal’ is really quite genius because every time we add to it or read it, it’s nothing but positivity which obviously is nothing but productive and beneficial to our psychological well-being.
So making a happy journal is a great way to start shifting our belief systems and get us focusing on the positive things in our lives. The idea is that all we write in this happy/gratitude journal is all positive things either going on in our lives, compliments we’ve received, things we’re proud of, etc. This is a journal of only positivity and gratitude so everything in it should make you feel good to write about and read. The other great benefit is as we write in it repeatedly we can enjoy loving ourselves over and over again and realizing all the great things in our life. The more we do this the more we will continuously raise our vibration to that of gratitude, joy, happiness, and love. Going back and rereading compliments that people have given us, or some wonderful things that happened years ago will show us how beautiful our lives really are at times when we forget. Due to our environment and imprinting we are too busy thinking our lives are less than perfect and filled with flaws and disappointments. But if we stopped and looked at all the innumerable positive things we’ve done and have had done to us we might be surprised at how great our lives really are even if it’s the simplest things such as a smile from a stranger, a laugh with a friend, a hug from a parent or spouse, etc.
(No matter what our life is like we can always find positive things if we want to find them, and that is what we are after, we want to shift from seeing the bad to seeing all the good)
I think this is an amazing and simple idea that has huge benefits. First of all we’ll feel better instantly by writing or typing the positive things each time as well as getting the opportunity to go back and remember all those great moments in our life each time we add to it or whenever we want to read it. Another great benefit is that as we continually focus and write out all the positive attributes of ourself or of the positive things happening in our life we will help shift our subconscious programming into thinking that it is normal and thus our life will change in endless ways. This is basically the way affirmations work in reprogramming our subconscious but I find this idea extremely more effective because we’re using our own real events and truths. Starting from where we are with our own experience is much more productive than trying to imprint a standard affirmation. Affirmations of truth and empowerment are helpful however since the mind can’t deny them. Once we shift our subconscious programming into thinking that we are amazing and wonderful, (which we all really are no matter what that voice in our head or others are telling us) that things always work out for us, and always getting better then our lives will match that belief, by law. Also we will feel amazing, have increased self-esteem, and a sense of empowerment. The more we focus on the positive the better.
Learning to love ourselves is about learning to let go of what we hold about ourselves and focusing on the good things about us. It’s about letting go of our negative imprinting that started as a child. As mentioned before, all of our negative thinking towards ourselves was taught to us. Not loving ourselves and having poor self-esteem is completely unnatural and is learned ignorance. Psychologists have shown now how human behavior, especially social, is completely learned through the environment. There is no gene that makes an angry, violent, rude, greedy, or rich or poor person. These things are created as embodiments of consciousness. I think it’s good to know and remember this fact often because it helps us from beating up on ourselves. Too often we think that we intrinsically are flawed but that is an illusion. We are perfect and capable of anything and need nothing for our happiness. All thoughts and feelings contrary are negative imprinting done by culture, parents, friends, religion, etc. These memories or thoughts trigger negative emotions about ourselves and thus make us feel unhappy and unloving towards ourselves. That is why I think it is so important to remember that it is not coming from us. This is something we were taught, that was modeled to us one way or another and thus we replicate it. We have to let go of our judgments and condemnations towards ourselves. That is why I think it is so important to remember this fact so that we can lift the burden of judgment off ourselves and start making real progress towards inner peace and happiness.
Now the first thing we might be tempted to do is blame the others who are responsible for all the self-disapproval but that’s not going to get us anywhere either. Blame will just further the problem and will disempower us. The real power comes from forgiveness, going within, and transcendence of ego thinking(which in this case would be blame). Ego thinking can not be where there is an attitude of forgiveness because it doesn’t want us to let go of our grudges, hurt feelings, pain and suffering, and limiting belief systems. After all those things are who we are right? But this is the illusion of the ego, because we are not those things, we are infinitely greater than just our physical selves and limited beliefs of the primitive ego.
Thus we have a choice, we can remain in a state of negativity and holding on to all our suffering and stay miserable or we can focus solely on all the beauty of ourselves and the world, love ourselves, forgive all, and serve others. This will bring us more joy and fulfillment in life and, as mentioned, our lives will certainly improve by the law and power of the subconscious.
We can start where we are right now and pay attention to how we feel. Start noticing how things around us effect us. Become conscious to the world around us, the thoughts that we’re thinking, but most importantly how we’re feeling inside. When we listen to music, pay attention to how it makes us feel, when we watch movies and other media, pay attention to how we feel, when we are rude or unloving towards someone or when someone behaves that way towards us, pay attention to how we feel. Our feelings are our guide and they are the easiest way to notice what we are thinking because emotions can only come from thoughts first. Remember to feel our life… Pay attention to how we feel when we start writing in our journal of gratitude and positivity and we might be surprised how powerful it is.
Ideas for writing and focusing on are things that we appreciate, things that are good in our life, things we’re grateful for, times when people compliment(ed) us, things we’re proud of, inspirational quotes, poems and lyrics that bring us joy and positivity, things we’ve accomplished, and so forth. Some additional ways to love ourselves and increase our positive feelings are watching funny movies(without crude or destructive humor), doing things that we enjoy and bring us happiness, developing our talents, giving service, and just remember that doing things that bring us true joy is loving ourself. Taking care of ourself is loving ourself. Eating healthy and exercising is loving ourself. Setting apart time to relax is loving ourself. It’s okay, perfectly natural, and most likely needed at this point to take time for ourself and show ourself some love. Otherwise we’re neglecting and being unloving towards ourselves and that doesn’t help us or those around us. So many people get caught up always pleasing others but what about themselves… It’s really simple but we often overlook it and think we’re being selfish for remembering to take care of ourselves. But this is going to lead to contempt, frustration, stress, and burnout.
Sometimes we want to get down on ourselves when something happens to make us vulnerable, but we have so many ways to love ourselves if we remain conscious and pay attention. You can do it! We can love ourselves, we can fill our lives with the joy that was intended no matter how impossible that may seem. Just writing this has been an absolute pleasure and brings me so much joy just thinking about all the things I love in life and the things I enjoy. But the greatest joy is thinking about you reading this and how amazing I think you are and hope that you will take time out of each day to remember to consciously love yourself! We are infinitely glorious, beautiful, creative, and powerful, there is no limit to our greatness. I know that we are great. I know that we are loving. If we have a hard time believing these things then start our gratitude journal right now and begin to see all the great things that we are. Or if we’re already writing a journal just start noticing how it feels to write the positive things versus other things. Start paying attention to what we give our attention to and how it makes us feel. I love you always and forever!