Standing up to yourself, looking in the mirror and saying ‘I love you’ isn’t particularly challenging. It’s believing those words and feeling them resonate on a gut level that can be tough.
Self love is like a mountain we have to climb: boots, rope and pick ax not included.Each arduous step we take up the mountain feels like an accomplishment. But sometimes, it’s all too easy to fall down and hit rock bottom. So many of us go through life giving all of our love to everyone but ourselves, and very often we don’t even realize how much this damages our ability to harmoniously relate to others. As you begin to explore your needs, you’ll start to discover where you’ve neglected to love yourself and how you can start showing yourself compassion.
The powerful effects of childhood conditioning on your self love
At a young age, you may have been taught or led to believe that some part of you is damaged or unlovable. You were too young to understand that no one deserves being made to feel like they’re worthy of neglect, abandonment or mistreatment. You were too young to realize that you weren’t at fault for the bad behavior of the authority figures who hurt you in your life. You internalized your negative experiences and the harmful actions of others; over time, you began to believe that it was all your fault. That you despite how innocent you were caused your mother’s unstable moods, your classmates’ bullying, your father’s sexually abusive behavior or your older sibling’s emotional or verbal abuse.
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If you can identify with this, you aren’t alone. My own fragile relationship with myself was burdened for years by the incorrect idea that somehow, I was partially to blame for the emotional, verbal and sexual trauma I endured as a child at the hands of my relatives. I internalized the cruelty and harsh words from family I was supposed to be able to trust. I heard negative things about me so often that I was conditioned to believe that they were true! As an adult, I slowly but surely chipped away at the childhood conditioning that held me back from loving myself and having healthy relationships. It was only when my marriage completely dissipated at age 40 that I had a wake up call from the Universe it suddenly clicked that my broken marriage, along with all of the rocky relationships that preceded it, were a result of my inability to love and honor myself. I was giving all of my energy to my partner and hoping he would love me for me. That was where it all went wrong.
Loving relationships begin by loving yourself
Loving relationships begin by loving yourself first, flaws and all. If you’re loving and accepting of others but hateful toward yourself, it’s time to re-balance where your energy is going. Your love should be equally distributed among others and yourself. Typically, those of us who unconditionally love others without loving ourselves first tend to attract users and people who don’t honor us. When we love ourselves first, we energetically attract people and situations that harmoniously align with our dreams and needs. We magnetize relationships with healthy give and take.
The vibrations we emit attract better opportunities in our lives. At least once each day, make it a point to prove to your inner skeptic just how lovable you are. Look back on cards, letters, comments and text messages from people in your life who love you. Think about joyful memories you’ve shared with your loved ones and just how happy you’ve made them. Consider all the ways you’ve shown others your love, forgiveness and acceptance, and remind yourself that you deserve the same energy in return. With these simple techniques, you can reshape your behavior and begin to strip away harmful conditioning that has led you to falsely believe that you are undeserving of love.
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