By Rena Greenberg
Tending to your soul and honoring your spirit is ultimately the only way to truly love yourself.
Most people would agree that self-love is essential for happiness. But what does that really mean? The problem with these well-advised words of advice is that often the recipient has no idea how to give self-love.
The advice, “Love yourself” has become as cliché as, “Just say no to drugs.”
How do you love yourself? I have pondered this question my whole life—for myself, for my loved ones and my clients. What I came to realize is that it can be more beneficial to examine the ways we, unknowingly, aren’t loving ourselves, rather than “trying hard” to conjure up love for ourselves.
I came to see, over time, that one of the greatest myths about loving ourselves is the notion that indulging is a way to love ourselves. That self-indulgence may take the form of overeating, emotional eating or consuming the wrong foods. It may be abusing sex, alcohol, drugs or spending too much money.
There was a time when I thought that if I bought myself clothes or jewelry I was giving myself love. Or, if I had that extra piece of cake, it was a gift to myself—an act of kindness. In reality, these activities were a form of self-abuse. They certainly never led to a sense of long-term fulfillment or happiness. They always left me feeling empty and wanting more.
In fact, clients have come to me, often in misery, because their over-indulgence led them to feelings of self-disgust, isolation, desperation and low self-esteem. Trying to “love themselves” unsuccessfully resulted in being overweight, feeling out of control with a sense of self-hatred and shame that at times felt unbearable.
Of course, consciously, we want to feel healthy, happy and whole. So why is the result so often the opposite of that? When we explore the inner voices that can lead us astray, we often discover thoughts like, “You only live once…Why not have that extra glass of wine tonight?” or, “I help people all day long. I’m such a good person. Why shouldn’t I order dessert? It’s the one thing I enjoy.”
The reality is that most often these feeble attempts to find happiness are, at best, a form of temporary distraction. It’s even more likely that “loving yourself” in this way will ultimately lead to feeling worse than you did before trying to practice self-love. Over indulging in a weak effort to feel loved is like giving too much candy or toys to a spoiled child. It backfires.
So what’s the solution?
The key to truly loving yourself is to give yourself that which uplifts you, not just for the moment, but long-term.
What is it that you really want?
The key to answering that question is to go past the clamoring desires of your ego and personality, which are never going to be satisfied. Instead, the secret to your ultimate happiness is to travel to your soul. Your ego personality is always going to want more. As soon as you give it the donut, it wants the chocolate. When you buy it the shoes, it begs for boots. Sadly, the ego always wants “the next thing.”
But your soul can be satisfied.
Tending to your soul and honoring your spirit is ultimately the only way to truly love yourself. How do you honor your spirit? By listening to it. What is your heart’s desire? It’s amazing how the simplest things can bring you the greatest and deepest happiness.
Spending time with a child or a friend you truly love can make your heart swell with delight. Snuggling with a dog, cat or horse that’s dear to you can fill your essence with a sense of deep peace and calm. Hiking on a wooded trail, while taking in the magnificent colors and smells of nature, can delight your inner self. Holding a newborn baby, or feeling the gentle breeze against your skin as you stroll along the oceanside, can uplift you like nothing else. And then there’s music, which is truly the language of the soul and a way to connect with your deeper self and others. Closing your eyes and listening to music can elevate your being to new heights.
Ultimately, what your heart desires more than anything is to feel your connection with all of life. To give and receive love…to share your passion with others…to inspire and share your gifts—this is what it means to love yourself.
Loving yourself isn’t as simple as stuffing something into your mouth or pulling out your credit card. It’s holding your own heart as you challenge yourself to step into your dream.
Loving yourself is going beyond all the fears that have held you back up until this point. Self-love means asking yourself, “Why not?” when it comes to going for your dream and encouraging yourself every step of the way. That dream may be having children, opening to a relationship or repairing an existing friendship or marriage. It might be taking the first step towards creating your own business, starting a nonprofit, or trying out for a Broadway show.
Loving yourself is having the courage to feel your feelings—even the ones that aren’t so pretty—without judging them. It’s holding yourself when you are feeling sad, angry or lonely with the utmost love and respect.
Loving yourself takes practice and a strong resolution. It’s the willingness to pick yourself up when life throws you a curveball. Even when you’re hurting—lift yourself up as if you truly were your own best friend. It will remind you how strong you are. Look up to the heavens for support and knowledge that you are never alone. Breathe and sit patiently instead of raiding the refrigerator.
To love yourself is to whisper into your heart, “I love you always,” as you gently coax yourself to take the next right action in the mystery of your precious life.
Rena Greenberg, a Hay House author, can be reached at http://www.EasyWillpower.com. Her weight loss and gastric bypass hypnosis success has been featured in 150-plus news stories including USA Today, Woman’s World, The Doctor’s, CNN, Good Morning America and Nightline. PBS stations nationally aired Rena’s show, “Easy Willpower,” in August 2015. Her wellness program is sponsored in 75 hospitals and 100-plus corporations. She conducts hypnotherapy sessions with people all over the world on Skype.