How to fall in love with being good to yourself
By Astrid Longhurst
A lovely lady that I coached many years ago once said to me that she didn’t know how to love herself. She went on to say that she was quite critical about herself and barely made time to do the things in life that gave her joy.
I asked her if there were people in her life that she loved and cared about. She said that there were. I invited her to tell me how she showed these people that she loved them.
She replied in an instant, “Oh, that’s easy, I spend time with them. I listen to what they say. I am kind and compassionate when they are hurting or upset. I do lovely things for them to make them smile. I don’t judge them. I support and encourage their dreams and believe in them wholeheartedly.”
I asked her if she did these things for herself and she shook her head. She said that she didn’t. I wondered what it might be like for her if she simply applied everything she did for the people she loved to herself. She smiled and said that she thought she might feel better about herself. I nodded in agreement. The key was that she knew exactly how to love herself. It was the very same way that she loved others in her life. The only thing she needed to do was to direct her focus and awareness back towards herself and apply the same things she was doing for others to her.
It takes time to know how to truly love and care about who we are.
Early messages in childhood about what we should or shouldn’t do can leave us feeling on the back foot in our own lives. Few of us were ever taught how to value our own intuition and follow a path that made us feel wonderful. Sometimes it can feel challenging to truly love and be kind to ourselves simply because we have not been used to doing it.
When I was growing up there really wasn’t a concept of having a positive or loving relationship with ourselves. In my own household, the focus was more about doing the “right” thing in accordance with what society might expect or indeed, the neighbours down the road. I remember my own mother being highly anxious about what the neighbours might think of us and this instilled a sense within me of always trying to be “perfect.” Of course, this was an impossible goal, however, for many years my focus was always on needing to make sure that I pleased other people even if it was at a cost to myself.
However, our life journeys are there to teach us how to become more of the people we are. Every trial and tribulation bring with them an opportunity for growth and learning, if we can look for the message hidden within the mess. And so, at sixty-three, I can happily say that I absolutely know how to fall in love with being good to myself and to top it all, this is one of the things that I teach in my books, coaching and workshops.
The relationship with yourself is what you project into your life
We didn’t understand or know back then the impact that loving ourselves can make. We didn’t understand that the relationship with ourselves is fundamental to every other relationship we will have in our life. It also has a direct impact on our health and wellbeing. There was a sense that loving yourself was a selfish thing to do, however, as we now understand, loving yourself is the most self-caring thing you can do for you and others. When we are in a good place and feel happy in our body, mind and spirit, we are more able to be there for the people we love and care about. It’s rather like that old saying of putting your own oxygen mask on first in a plane before you help someone else. You have to be okay first before you can help others.
Like every other relationship in our life, the one we have with ourselves is constantly evolving and is a work in progress. If you are too tired or feeling unhappy, then this is what you project outwards as well as inwards. When you are feeling in a good place, this is also communicated to others, the world and most importantly, YOU!
Enjoy my top five tips of how to fall in love with being good to yourself
#1. Find your still point
If we allow it, life will engage us, distract us and occupy us until we realise that we really haven’t been present for the moments of our life that are unfolding.
Being good to yourself means that you take time to come “home” to you so that you are more in touch with what you may need or how you feel.
Finding your still point or quiet inner space may mean that you set aside just a few minutes each day to simply sit with yourself. This means no watching television, listening to the radio or reading. Just “BE” with you.
As you sit, become aware of your breathing. Focus on how your body feels as you simply inhale and exhale. Do this with no judgements - just notice your breath enter and leave your body.
When your mind wanders, just notice where it has gone to and gently return your awareness to your breathing.
Take time to find your still point throughout your day. A great time to do this is in the morning as you begin your day and also at night before you settle down to sleep.
#2. Let life be as it is & re-ignite your joy
Stop trying to force things to happen. Let go of the need to control and relax into letting go. We may not be able to control certain events or situations in our life. However, we can choose what and where we will put our focus and attention. Today, make a conscious choice to dwell on what is good in your life. Actively look for what is working for you. Notice the people that make you smile. Choose to read something that inspires you. Focus on how blessed you are. Delight in the small sweet moments – the warming cup of tea or coffee, the dew on the morning grass, the daffodils, the birds singing, the food that you love. Reignite your joy every single day by actively creating it!
#3. Turn worry into wonder.
Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles – it takes away today’s peace. The act of worrying doesn’t do anything to calm our minds or soothe our hearts. It also doesn’t change what may or may not happen. It also raises our stress response which has a direct impact on how we feel, our health and our mental cognition.
The key is to be able to turn the thoughts we worry about into thoughts that we wonder about.
Whenever you catch yourself worrying about something, stop and reframe your worry by choosing to wonder about it. Worrying always has a negative connotation to it as we usually worry about the worst that could happen. However, Wonder has a positive and more uplifting feeling which is full of possibilities. For example, if you are worrying about finances, you might catch yourself saying that you don’t have enough money or that you worried you won’t be able to manage. Turn this thought into wonder by saying, I wonder what or who might be able to help me with this? I wonder what I could do to manage this situation better? I wonder if there is anything I have overlooked here? I wonder how I can make this okay?
Just the act of wondering invites your mind to become more expansive and become better at looking for positive solutions and possibilities. You move out of the stress response and into a solution based response which helps you to feel calmer and make the decisions you need to make.
#4. Love your body
When we don’t take care of ourselves or appreciate our body, we become disconnected from ourselves. Since our body is the place where all of our feelings, experiences, thoughts and creativity is felt and embodied, it is vital that we make the relationship that we have with our body the happiest one that we can. The relationship we have with our body is the longest one we will ever have. It makes sense to make your body your ally and friend.
Loving your body means that you take time to listen to what your body needs. Choose foods that make you feel energised, healthy and full of vitality. Prioritise your rest and say “No thank you” to activities or people that drain your energy. Choose movement that you love and always speak well of your own body and others. Our body is our home throughout this lifetime. Focus on making your body the happiest and most comfortable place to live.
#5. Live in gratitude and appreciation
Gratitude is a game-changer. When we are feeling grateful or in appreciation of something or someone, we communicate to our nervous system that all is well in our world. We cannot be in fear and gratitude at the same time. Just cultivating a feeling of gratitude helps us to focus on what is good and to appreciate what we have rather than be upset about what we don’t have.
Gratitude affirmations are a great way to help you to stay focused on all of the good things in life. Affirmations involve repeating a positive statement several times through the day to help focus the mind. The key is to connect the words with your emotions. Really tap into the feeling behind the words for the greatest impact. Do these at the start of the day to help you begin your day with a positive outlook.
Here are 7 top gratitude affirmations to get you started.
1. I am grateful to open my eyes today.
2. I am grateful for another chance to live my life – for a new start.
3. I take a moment to remember all the great and small things done for me.
4. There is so much to be grateful for – whether it’s a door held open, a smile from a stranger or the gift of time and attention from another.
5. I am grateful for any discomfort or pain that has come my way because I know that it will help me to grow, change and become more of the person I truly am.
6. I am grateful for my body and vow to treat it well. To eat well, to nourish myself well, to hydrate my body, to stretch it, move it, relax it and love my body wholeheartedly, because this is where I live – my home.
7. Today is all I have and I promise to use my time well.
I would love to connect with you. Do join me on Instagram for more ways on loving yourself and being the best we can be at every stage of our lives.
What are the ways in which you are good to yourself and show you that you love and care about you?
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First published on Sixty and me. www.sixtyandme.com