Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF

Having been in the wellness and healing field for nearly twenty years, I’ve read many self-improvement books and articles, attended many empowerment and enlightenment workshops and facilitated countless healings. I’ve also studied Eastern philosophy extensively, mainly because it offers solutions to the issues most found in Western consciousness. I’ve found that the most central concept to all of what I have studied is self-love, and that it’s mastery is directly connected to our wellbeing and happiness. This begs the question, “do I love myself?” and “how do I love myself?” I share a few suggestions from a book I wrote that explores this important question, entitled, “What is Love?”

When we love ourselves, we don’t criticize, regret our past, or feel inadequate. We do not allow negative feelings to dwell in our hearts nor fear-based thoughts to dwell in our minds. This does not mean that we ignore our feelings, rather that we deal with them. We do not experience fear of the future; we choose to experience excitement about possibilities and stay firmly planted in the present moment as much as possible. We do not blame others for how we feel or what we experience; we acknowledge the truth in every situation and take responsibility for our creations.

We cultivate the mindset that we are good enough. Good enough for our job, relationships, for love and affection, and for abundance. If someone breaks up with us, or we lose our job, do we feel inadequate, scared or ashamed? If we love ourselves, we accept that we’re starting a new chapter in our life and things are changing. Change is natural, suffering is optional. There is no right or wrong, good or bad—just the tag you choose. No one’s to blame or at fault and there’s nothing to fear. When we love our self, change can be fun.

When we love ourselves, we control our thoughts and are mindful of self-talk, doing our best to keep it positive.  The same holds true about others; we do not speak harshly about anyone; we acknowledge the oneness in all and know that how we think about others is a reflection of how we think about ourselves. When we’re not distracted by self-criticism, we can focus on better loving our self and serving others.  I read the other day that we should “always be kind to people, you never know what demons they may be battling.” This holds true with ourselves as well, so be kinder to yourself. We may not be able to control what thoughts go through our subconscious, but we can choose what we focus on. We can focus on positive or negative thoughts/emotions. If we don’t resist the thoughts that go through our minds and remember to focus on the positive ones, we will perceive life as a positive experience. This requires effort and discipline.

Most of us cannot master our thoughts by ourselves. We need teachers or tools to help us focus and train our minds and master our thoughts. We can seek happiness or misery. How we think in every moment determines which one we experience.

Our minds work in predicable ways. We experience an event and then start thinking about it. We’ve been trained to analyze events from our perspective and filter it through our belief systems. Then mental patterns kick in, and we enter into a spiral pattern of thinking, which can either spiral down to depression or spiral up to joy. We control which way we go. If we think positively, that is self-love. If we think critically and negatively, that is self-hate. If you find yourself feeling depressed or unhappy, you are in the downward spiral. Work to shake off depressing thoughts and think positively.

As soon as you notice that you’re behaving in ways that are not in alignment with what you want, change those behaviors. Life can become a game of finding happiness and love—the two most sought after experiences we can have—within yourself. Happiness lies in loving ourselves, accepting what is, and is not dependent on getting “our way”.  Happiness will not be found in someone else—whatever others think is none of our business.

Get there fast by replacing words: Instead of “fear”, think “excitement”. “I am excited” instead of “I am scared”. For “unhappy”, use “happy”. “That makes me happy,” instead of  “That makes me unhappy”. “The Divine” instead of “No One”.  “The Divine loves me,” instead of “No one loves me.” Substitute “for” for “to”, as in, ‘this is happening for me, not to me. Make a list of your own negative vocabulary to change. The effect may be instantaneous or gradual, but I promise that your life will change as a result. Because you’ll be loving yourself more.