Today’s guest blog is from author and psychologist Dr. Lynda Klau, who brings up something I am certain many of us don’t think about doing — but really should! I will certainly add it to my personal mantra list.
When was the last time you said “I love you” to yourself? Now that’s an unusual question, isn’t it? When is the last time you served as your own personal development coach? I’m curious about your answer. Embrace your answer without judging yourself; whatever it is, accept it solely as information.
An Exercise for You:
Here’s an exercise that may help. Sit down in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Breathe in and out three times. Close your eyes and see yourself standing in front of a mirror. Now, be there in front of that mirror. Say to yourself, either silently or out loud, “(Your name), I Love You.” How does it feel to the part of you who is saying it? Why are you saying it? And for the part of you who is hearing and receiving it, can you let it in? Does it feel good or not? What are you feeling in your body? Do you feel worthy of such self-love? Do you deserve it? If you do really feel loved — wonderful.
If you can’t say it, or if it’s too hard to let the love in, then you may want to start saying “I love you” to others more often and see what happens. By doing so, you’re working on strengthening your love for yourself. It’s impossible to not feel positive when you’re actively engaging in loving behaviors!
What did you discover in this exercise? When was the last time you said “I love you” to yourself? Before going to sleep last evening? A month ago? You can’t remember? Ever? Or are you much more accustomed to hear yourself saying, “I hate this wrinkle,” or “Look at those extra five pounds!”?
It was Carl Rogers, the psychologist, who said the hardest thing for people to say to each other are the very positive things. That is true for ourselves as well. In fact, I’m remembering both loving and hating myself. They are two different worlds. I recall one morning, years ago, around Halloween when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and felt such hatred for myself and the way I looked — even with makeup on. I was devastated. At the time, I had no voice to respond to this hateful voice to say something like, “Excuse me, but you don’t get to talk to me that. For any reason!” So I too know what it feels like to not love yourself.
After awakening to and transcending my early inner world, I now know love in addition to hate. I hear a voice from within say “I so love you” many times a day. And I hear another voice say, “I love you, too.” This happens when I feel sad, lonely, when I’m trying something new, and sometimes just because. That kind of unconditional love is good for all of us. It is our birthright.
You don’t actually have to say the words out loud or even silently; what’s important is having the feeling of self-love.
If you say “I love you” to yourself several times a day or a week, then I dance with you. But before we get too celebratory, I wonder if you know where your “I love you” comes from. You see, we can feel pride for achievement, accomplishment, or what we might call conditional “love” — which is not really love at all. Do you love yourself today because the number on your scale is low enough? Or did you just get engaged and are proving you are lovable? These are external factors. My dear friends, those are accomplishments or achievements. I wouldn’t call those unconditional love. Those are examples of truly good things — don’t get me wrong, but they are based on external factors: “Self, if you achieve this or that, then I will love you.” I’m sorry to say, but that is not real love. It’s not the love you deserve.
I’ve watched many clients be gravely disappointed because they finished a degree, had a huge business success and they still don’t feel lovable. They held the belief that an outside success would create an inside feeling. They were caught in the “conditional love hope world.”
Happily there is also unconditional love. Unconditional love is not about being worthy or deserving. It is a love without condition: “I love you because I love you — no need to prove it. I love you because you are. Not because of any condition, and even without accomplishment. I love you for being you.” You still may not like that wrinkle or extra 5 pounds, but that doesn’t destroy your love for yourself.
If you feel such a love without condition for yourself, you are there. Don’t take it for granted. Whether you grew up this way or you’ve worked to arrive at this place, let it guide you to the life you were meant to live. Did you know that the more we love ourselves, the more we can love others — and they, in turn, us? And if we don’t love ourselves, it doesn’t matter how loving your partner or family may be; you won’t be able to receive the love.
Self-love leads to self-care. Loving yourself inspires you to care for yourself the way you would care for anyone you deeply love. Self-love and self-care lead to a well being. This is interesting because self-love and self-care also lead to a life you love entirely. Are you afraid that if you love yourself then you’ll be alone because no one else will love you? Hogwash!
The world of unconditional self-love helps us go forward into the unknown, fail and feel loved, experiment, and follow our passion not knowing where that will lead us. There is a power to unconditional self-love that you don’t want to miss. It’s life changing!
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This article was originally posted on YourTango: Be Your Own Personal Development Coach With Three Simple Words