Valentine’s Day is a wonderful reminder to reassess the quality of your relationships with others. But when was the last time you assessed your relationship with yourself? Are you able to love yourself unconditionally?
Your gut reaction may be: “Wait a minute, Maria and Nando! Isn’t ‘loving yourself’ selfish or being self-centered? I’ve always been taught to put others first!”
When you love yourself unconditionally, you’re recognizing and honoring your own worth. And there’s nothing selfish about that. In reality, you can’t love anyone else if you don’t love yourself first.
Over the decades, we’ve seen in our private practices so many good people crippled by their lack of self-compassion and internally directed negativity. Some experience a self-critical internal dialogue while others feel physically bad about themselves.
We’ve found that this negative mindset resolves into two related but distinct patterns…one we call “Inner Critic” (the part of you that reviews your past performance and judges what you do as “not good enough”) and the other we call “Core Shame” (the part of you that has experienced deep pain in the past and it convinces you that you as a person are worthless).
Often this negativity stems from learning to control emotions, feelings, and actions through a punishment-based motivational strategy. (You can learn more about this from Nando’s Self-Motivation video.) However, there’s a better way to motivate yourself. That’s by developing an “Inner Coach”. You can retrain your brain to analyze your feelings, sort out what’s true and what’s not, and focus on the positive in everything you experience.
Learning to love yourself unconditionally is a process. But it’s a process you can master with practice. Just realize that it’s taken you a lifetime to arrive at where you are today. And it will take some time to retrain yourself to come from a place of self-compassion and love.
However, when you do learn to love yourself unconditionally you can:
- Be the real you and feel comfortable in your own skin.
- Be proud of yourself for the amazing gifts you have to offer.
- Feel more empowered and energized to take advantage of new opportunities.
- Find more inner strength to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
- Be more focused and productive because you’re able to ask for what you want and need.
- Be more resilient in the face of challenge and persist despite obstacles.
- Bounce back from failure and suffer less from stress.
- Find your best sense of wellbeing and happiness.
- Connect with others and build warm, positive relationships.
To develop the ability to love yourself unconditionally, you will need to start with understanding yourself better. And that’s going to be a process of peeling back the layers. You’ll have to be willing to experience pain and accept, but not judge, your emotions and feelings. This will take some practice, but with persistence it will get easier. And you’ll find it greatly diminishes the pain over time.
Be happy and proud that you’re an emotional being with values, needs and wants. Learn to honor these so you can feel whole. Explore and identify how your “Inner Critic” is trying to protect you from pain, and then accept its direction as it motivates you toward excellence.
No one can expect immediate change. But we promise you, that with consistent practice you can change! Be patient. Persevere and trust the process. Persistent intelligent effort will yield successful results.
This process has a definite order for promoting self-understanding and learning how to change yourself at your core level using the six sources of influence we all have, but often forget to use.
Self-care and self-love don’t always look like pampering. Sometimes it is about updating the way you think about yourself and talk to yourself. And if you want to deepen your relationship skills with yourself and other, our online Life in Balance course will allow you to begin this transformation from the comfort of your own home. Please contact us if you have any questions about this or any of our trainings. We would love the opportunity to speak with you!