If you haven’t yet, please be sure to read Part 1 as this picks up where that one left off.
Exploring who you are is a critical step in learning to love yourself. This exercise of self-exploration will open to door to understanding what is stopping you from pure self-love. After you feel like you have a deep and intimate understanding of who you are, work through the below steps to start uncovering the multiple layers of unconditional love.
Be grateful for the flaws – It is important that you are completely honest with yourself and find what aspects that you tend to hide. What things cause you to cringe a little? Where does shame creep up? Once you identify these items, begin to truly accept all aspects of yourself by affirming that your “flaws” are what makes you unique and ultimately perfect. Often, we would easily love others with the same “flaws” and recognizing that helps in finding this love for ourselves. Allow the labels to fade away and just be with the reality of all the beautiful aspects of who you are. Daily, take a moment to be grateful for these “flaws” as they give you an opportunity to experience unconditional love.
Respecting yourself – We tend to treat ourselves with significantly less respect than we do others. Respecting yourself includes speaking to ourselves with kindness as well as requiring others to do the same. Anytime you make a comment about yourself that is negative, even joking, it chips away at your self-esteem and gives fuel to your inner critic. Unfortunately our habits of negative self-talk can run deep and took years to build so it takes time to change. This is one that requires a high level of awareness. Spend a day watching all your thoughts and comments about yourself. Are there themes when you talk about yourself negatively? Many people do when they speak about things like needing to lose weight or a goal they aren’t hitting as quickly as they would like. Ask others to support you in letting you know when you have made a comment about yourself that is negative. Once you see when you tend to bring in negative self-talk, you can begin to catch it and change the dialogue you have about yourself. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. Add in a consistent practice of looking in the mirror and telling yourself “I love you”. It may feel odd and funny at first, but it will help grow a habit of positive self-talk while you are eliminating the negative.
Have compassion – We are incredibly hard on ourselves. Our high standards for achievement that we put on ourselves are often impossible. We fill ourselves with “shoulds” and “need to’s” that wreak havoc on our self worth. Cultivating compassion for ourselves, providing understanding and love, will create a feeling of fulfillment that we dream of. Let go of the things that you regret and haven’t forgiven yourself for. You are human and will make mistakes and fail. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, those mistakes and failures are gifts for growth so be grateful for them instead of holding a grudge against yourself. For more support read my post on Tips to Living Self Compassion.
Ultimately, you will never have complete and unconditional love in your life if you don’t have it for yourself. Nothing external will fill that void and you will always have a feeling of discontentment if you are lacking any bit of self-love. You deserve better than that. You deserve complete love and happiness. Start right now, healing any wounds and changing any perceptions that are keeping you for unconditional love.