So far we have talked about two strands in the tapestry of happiness:
Today we are going to look at the role of Self-Love in happiness; a topic that has created a lot of controversy, confusion and ironically, unhappiness! Think about these questions:
• Should you love yourself?
• How much should you love yourself?
• Can you love yourself too much?
Here are my answers: (But first, write down you own answers; go ahead, I’ll wait!)
• Yes, yes and yes
• Fully, completely, unreservedly
• No, there is no such thing as too much self love
My guess is you definitely agree with me on the first answer, probably agree on the second one and quite possibly are conflicted on the last answer.
We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now think about this: Your capacity for happiness (and joy, peace of mind, congruency, personal motivation, drive, persistence, career success or lack thereof, connection with others…and many other important things in life) is directly connected to your ability to fully and unconditionally love yourself.
I’ve done a lot of marital therapy, couples coaching and family therapy and I’m about to tell you something that you intuitively know: To the degree we don’t love, accept and embrace ourselves is the degree of difficulty we will have in loving others and connecting to them. When we don’t get along well with ourselves, it’s hard to get along with anyone else. The reason so much of marital or couples therapy fails is because one of both of the individuals needs to resolve what is going on inside of them first, then address what's going on in the relationship. Thats' how important self-love is.
A lack of self-love, unconditional positive self-regard and self-acceptance can foster:
• Criticism, (towards self and others)
• Fear and Anxiety
• Withdrawal and Isolation
This isn’t a complete and definitive list, but it clearly demonstrates how important self-love is.
By now, you might be wondering, “Okay, enough already! Tell me how I can more fully love, accept and embrace myself!” Fair enough. The reality is, to answer your question would take a book and that’s why so many books have already been written on the topic. If you have read one that has helped you, please let us know by leaving a comment about it.
For now, I’ll give you an important piece of the puzzle for increasing your self-love. It lies in your beliefs about yourself, your worth and your value. That’s where you need to start; your beliefs and assumptions.
Whatever beliefs you hold consciously and subconsciously about yourself determines your ability to love, accept and embrace yourself. So, start there. The secret isn’t in eliminating what some people call negative and limiting beliefs; it’s about taking on and nurturing new and healthier beliefs about yourself. Focus on creating and accepting useful beliefs about loving yourself and there rest will take care of itself; the grip your old and less than useful beliefs about loving yourself will loosen their grip. You can learn and take on new beliefs by reading books, listening to C.D.’s and reading articles online that will begin to “seed your mind’ with healthy beliefs regarding yourself.
Beyond that, here are four things you can focus on:
• Surround yourself with those who will bring out the best in you and reflect back to you what your strengths are. And minimize time with those who do the opposite!
• Keep a daily journal and jot down your strengths, positive traits and behaviors as you notice them throughout the day
• Monitor and manage your self-talk throughout the day
• Get a good therapist or coach to help you discover your real self (versus your imagined self.) Your therapist or coach needs to be someone who likes and respects you and who will help you see yourself more clearly in a “positive” manner and someone who will challenge you and rock your world in a transformative way. An effective therapist or coach is an investment that will affect every area of your life and pay you back a hundredfold. Don’t ask yourself if you can afford it; ask yourself if you are worth it.
I believe we all have a Loving Creator and He/She love us unconditionally and unreservedly and longs for us to learn to do the same thing for ourselves. Any “religious” belief that gets in the way of that (“You need to put others before yourself”) isn’t from Spirit/God/The Universe; it’s from human beings who are misinformed and misguided, even if they have the best intentions in the world.
What’s that old saying we’ve heard often? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” I think too many people have created and are living in their own hell that comes from not loving themselves enough. I like the saying "If you find yourself in hell, keep going!"
The most loving thing you can do for yourself, those you love and the rest of humanity is to keep learning how to support, nurture and love yourself.
Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”
I say, “Everything.”
Let me know what you're thinking: Share your thoughts, questions and comments. I would love to hear from you and you can be sure you’ll get a reply from me.