Sometimes, persistent suffering leaves you feeling and believing that you do not deserve happiness or the good things in life. For instance, a person may get the job they've always wanted, the relationship they prayed for and are healthy, happy and feeling as if the world is as it should be, and then discomfort starts creeping into their brain. They begin to feel uncomfortable, almost to the point of seeking trouble and waiting for something awful to happen. This is because, in their minds, they are convinced that the joy they have now cannot possibly last and that it is too good to be true.
This kind of thinking can be crippling enough to deny all evidence to the contrary in their lives. As a result, their good life ceases to make sense, for, in their minds, it is only fleeting. And that's when self-sabotage happens as a way of ending the misery of waiting for something awful to happen.
Often, this happens because something has conditioned us to believe that we do not deserve happiness. Our experiences have caused us to think that joy and peace are not for us and that we must always be watching and admiring others from the sidelines and not participating. As sad as this sounds, this way of thinking is common.
But, self-love requires you to:
1. Change your mindset
Understand and believe, with your whole heart, that you deserve to be happy, just like the next person. You deserve the good things that this life has to offer. Happiness is not just for other people; you, too, can have it. But it is only within your reach if you believe we deserve it and want to have it. Self-love is about a change of mindset. Believe that you deserve the good things in this life. Believing and living in hope and expectation is the key to attracting abundance.
2. Set healthy boundaries
There was a time in my life when I was willing to accept anything and everything on offer because I didn't think I was good enough to deserve more. I didn't see myself as a woman who deserved better than was already offered. But as my mindset shifted and my confidence and self-esteem increased, I started setting better standards and expectations for myself. Not only did I expect these high standards from the people in my circles, I expected them from myself.
So, if you want better, then be better. When you begin to understand who you are and how valuable you are as a woman and as a man and hold yourself in high esteem, you set better standards for yourself and develop the courage to remove yourself from that environment that no longer serves you. You no longer compromise and understand that it is OK to let those who cannot live up to your standards go. You will not tolerate disrespect or shrink yourself to make other people comfortable. Instead, you will aim to surround yourself with people suitable for your mental health.
3. Have courage
Self-love will have you develop the courage to go after what you want in life and believe that it is OK to want more to aspire to be something more significant. Courage also allows you to take chances and necessary risks, try something new, get out of your comfort zone, and ask. Doing all these things demonstrates that you love yourself enough to believe that you deserve to want what you want and can have it. So, develop the courage, faith and self-belief to follow your heart's desires because that is what self-love does.
4. Forgive yourself
Another aspect of demonstrating self-love is being able to forgive yourself for your mistakes. Because, let's face it, no one is perfect. We misjudge situations and people; therefore, we should be able to forgive ourselves when that happens. If our friends and family members can forgive us, why can't we forgive ourselves? It is through our mistakes that we attain growth and wisdom. Our errors and experiences shape us, for better or worse. But when we practise true self-love, the mistakes can only be for the better.
5. Embrace your vulnerability
You do not have to be perfect. You do not have superman or superman.
I've realised that we are the masters of pretence as human beings. We walk with wide grins on our faces, pretending that everything in our universe is OK or indeed perfect. We laugh loudly at lousy jokes, choose words carefully, are afraid to upset anybody, wear nice clothes, and spend hours fixing our hair and having our nails polished- all the time.
Sometimes we go to these lengths because we want to appear perfect, and the thought of not being perfect terrifies us. So we succumb to societal pressure. Even though our worlds are falling apart, we walk with our heads held high, looking people in the eye and convincing them we have everything under control. But inside, we are like a volcano, waiting to erupt.
A little prod on the right spot is all it will take for us to explode, destroying everything in our path. When this happens, those around us turn in awe, wondering what happened.
Self-love is permitting yourself to feel what you feel without worrying if someone will think less of you. It's being able to turn to someone and admit that you are hurting, need help, can't cope, and have had enough. It's letting others care for you as much as you.
6. Own your space
Believe with your whole heart that you deserve a space in this world. And that you are as important and deserving as the next person. You, too, should have the chance and opportunity to experience peace, your definition of happiness, respect and dignity. Do not accept circumstances and situations that demean you as a human being because nobody is better than the other. For example, someone might have more money than you do and be in a position of privilege, but that does not make you a lesser being. Self-love demonstrates this understanding and belief in how it treats itself, talks and responds to others and situations daily.
All these things start with the inner work of believing that you deserve to give yourself your absolute best in life - unconditional self-love.
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