The most powerful relationship you will ever have
is the relationship with yourself.
You can be the most amazing human being in the world and everyone sees rays of light, love and genius when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that external admiration doesn’t matter one bit. I know because I used to look at people who were successful and happy, and wonder, “What’s their secret? Why can’t I be that way?”
After a long struggle of dealing with failures, addictions, and self-loathing, I educated myself and came to realize that the reason I couldn’t be happy like the people I envied was that I didn’t love myself the way they loved themselves.
For me, shifting from self-loathing to self-love has been profoundly healing. Now I see happy, successful people and I smile, knowing that their lives are products of a series of decisions that support their well-being.
Truth be told, every second you spend doubting your worth, and every moment you use to criticize yourself, is a tragic loss – a fresh moment of your life thrown away. And it’s not like you have forever either, so don’t waste any more of your seconds; don’t throw even one more of your moments away. Today is the best day to start loving yourself. Here are ten things self-loving people do differently:
1. They tell themselves they’re good enough.
This might seem overly simplistic, but it’s absolutely vital. Tell yourself, “I am ENOUGH!” anytime you begin to feel like you aren’t. Because sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip. And you are! Accept your flaws. Admit your mistakes. Don’t hide and don’t lie. Deal with your truth and grow stronger from it. Your truth won’t penalize you. You are always good enough just the way you are, to grow stronger than you ever have been before. The mistakes you make along the way won’t hurt you. The denial and cover-up will. Flawed people are beautiful, likeable and teachable. Fakes and phonies are not.
You are YOU for a reason. Ignore the distractions. Listen to your own inner voice. Mind your own business. Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day. Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to love it. Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, drama or negativity derail you from your truth, and from loving who you are.
2. They believe they’re capable of overcoming the challenges they face.
Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful. Self-loving people know this and live accordingly. It’s how you deal with life’s challenges that determines your level of success and happiness. Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them. Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.
Will doing so always feel comfortable? Absolutely not. But will it be worth it? You bet ya! Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and necessary. The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you.
3. They choose responsibility over blame.
When something negative happens, self-loving people will look for a way to take responsibility, rather than searching for someone to point a finger at. They know that placing responsibility and blame elsewhere doesn’t solve the problem – it only stirs anxiety and helplessness. By choosing to take full responsibility, self-loving people do themselves the favor of encouraging positive change and acceptance rather than stewing in sorrow and stagnation.
You are the only person responsible for your success and happiness. The best part of your life will start on the day you decide your life is your own – no one to lean on, rely on, or blame. You are in full control of your present life. Believe with all your heart that you can do what you were made to do. It may be tough at times, but refuse to follow some preordained path or look to everyone else for permission. Make your own rules and have your own game plan. There is no happiness and success to be found by playing it safe and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
4. They educate themselves.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Life is a book and those who do not educate themselves read only a few pages. When you know better, you live better and feel better about yourself. Self-loving people are keyed into this. And they know that all education is self-education. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop. We don’t learn anything we don’t want to learn. Those who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own time are the only ones who earn a real education in this world.
Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur, artist or historical figure you can think of. Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education – investing copious amounts of time and energy to improve oneself – which, for obvious reasons, is one of the highest forms of self-love.
5. They feed their passions and talents.
If your life is going to mean anything, you have to live it yourself. You have to choose the path that feels right to YOU, not the one that looks right to everyone else. Every person in this world feels the gentle tug of fascination toward some idea or activity. And sometimes that tug isn’t so gentle.
Self-loving people recognize and respect their inner longings as something important, and they devote their time and energy to nourishing those desires. They know that nourishing their inner hunger is much more important than any fears they might have about what feeding it looks like to others.
So my challenge to you is this: Live your life not as a bystander. Live in this world, on this day, and everyday hereafter as an active participant. Every morning, ask yourself what is really important to you, and then find the courage, wisdom and willpower to build your day around your answer.
6. They teach people how to treat them right.
Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them. You have to figure out who’s worth your attention and who’s just taking advantage of you. If your time and energy is misspent on the wrong relationships, you can end up in a tedious cycle of fleeting friendships, superficial romances that are as thrilling as they are meaningless, and a general sense of wondering why you always seem to be running in place chasing affection.
That’s why self-loving people approach relationships from a place of self-respect and self-sufficiency. They don’t expect everyone to like them and they don’t need everyone to. They know what they need to feel loved and respected and they know what they have to offer others. So they gently teach the people around them about their boundaries and, if these boundaries are crossed repeatedly, they have enough sense to walk the other way. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
7. They uphold their standards.
What’s dreadful is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love and respect when you do. To lie to yourself and say that everything is OK when it isn’t. Or to convince yourself that you like your work when you know darn well you’re capable of much better.
Bottom line: Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for the wrong reasons. It’s about living honorably. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. At the end of the day, your reputation is what other people know about you. Your honor is what you know about yourself.
8. They are present and engaged in the only moment ever guaranteed to them.
Self-loving people value themselves and therefore they value how they spend their time. They realize that the only moment they ever truly have is the present moment, so they occupy it fully.
Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. We need to learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. So much is lost when we don’t.
The inability to focus in the present leads to a lack of awareness, which can lead to major challenges in communication, and therefore trouble in our most important relationships. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are fully engaged. And you can’t be fully engaged when you’re Facebooking or Snapchatting your life away on your phone. You just can’t. If you are constantly attached to your phone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, a missed MEMORY is worse than a missed TEXT! (Read The Power of Now.)
9. They share their abundance.
Self-loving people don’t need to have it all, or even much at all, to feel wealthy enough to share with others. They know they have it good in some way or another, and they aren’t scared to share it.
Maybe you’re feeling a little down and out right now. Maybe money is tight. But I bet if you think long and hard about it, you have some kind of abundance that you could share right now with someone else. Perhaps you have an abundance of patience, so you could be a listening ear. Perhaps you have an abundance of knowledge on a particular niche topic that you could share. Or maybe you have an abundance of strength compared to your elderly neighbor, so you could carry her groceries up the front steps for her. Even an abundance of smiles can go a long way in brightening the day of others along your path.
And as you know, life is a circle. What goes around eventually comes back around.
10. They don’t beat themselves up over the uncontrollable.
Self-loving people know there are times in our lives when we’re meant to sit, stuck in the muck, and fester for a little while. When we need to feel the ache of uncertainty deep in our hearts and minds so that, ultimately, we learn how to surrender to the fact that as much as we might try to plan and control and force an outcome, some things in life don’t happen until they are ready to happen.
And sometimes the good things happening end too soon. But again, self-loving people don’t fight it. They know these endings are the perfect time for self-reflection that can lead to self-renewal, gratitude for our experiences, and a solid start to new chapters of our lives.
Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In one column, write down all the things you like about yourself – your personal strengths, difficult situations you’ve overcome, people whose lives you’ve touched, personal accomplishments, and values that increase your self-respect. On the other side, make a list of your personal weaknesses or issues that you still struggle with – perhaps you’re selfish sometimes, or avoid taking responsibility, or maybe you haven’t followed through with your commitments. Whatever these issues are, bring them out into the light of day to be examined, and they will automatically feel less shameful.
At the end of the exercise, read both the strengths and the weaknesses column aloud. Next, put your hand on your heart and tell yourself, “I am strong. I am weak. I am flawed. I am broken. I am learning. I am vulnerable. I am human. And despite all of this, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being who uses past mistakes as fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the best version of ME.”
Re-read this post and do this exercise often. Spend time meditating on the habits and patterns in your life that serve you and those that hold you back. Connect with the pain that disconnection from yourself has caused, and hold it gently in your awareness. By doing these things, you’ll grow in self-awareness, mindfulness and self-love. And when you learn it is enough to be you, you will also learn to accept and love other people with more compassion and less judgment.
The floor is yours…
Which of the points in this post have you struggled with in the past? How will you love yourself more today? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Loving Earth