Hey you! Did you know that you’re very special? There are over seven billion people on earth and there is not one other person like you. You are awesome. You deserve to be loved — BY YOU. Your emotions are a choice, created by you, what you believe, what you think. But you can be pretty good at telling yourself three lies that block the flow of love into your life.

  1. I’m not good enough
  2. I can’t handle it
  3. I have no value

What’s the secret to loving yourself?

Here’s my story. My husband passed away six years ago from lymphoma cancer after a 15-year battle. My any-love bucket was empty, putting myself last in every way. Many of us are taught from childhood to put others first. Certainly, I was. Would you dish out 5 meals to everyone else and not for yourself? Of course not. It’s wrong. There are many childhood experiences and beliefs that impact how you love yourself as an adult.

At first, I gave myself permission to be empty, to grieve. Then I got tired of that and hired a life coach for guidance. Going back to the pages in my journal, we first assessed all areas of my life, which ones needed the most work, others not so much. I was shocked to see where I had been.

It was suggested that I visualize a black cord between myself and those from my past that I needed to forgive and clip that cord with Roger Rabbit sized scissors. I forgave them. I forgave myself. We can be so hard on ourselves.

Letting go of past trauma and wounds can be a tough one and may be one of those things you need to turn to others for support. The truth is though, when you examine your life and let go of things that have happened to you, it’s almost like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. The downside of facing your life issues is punishing yourself too much. You don’t have to carry it around with you anymore. Look at them as learning experiences and believe in your ability to change. You really need to accept the fact that you are not perfect before you can truly love yourself. There are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes. Your mistakes don’t make you unlovable. You can’t change the things you have done in the past but you can control tomorrow.

For me, darkness turned to brightness. I started to do deep breathing, meditation, feeling self-worth and envisioning a fresh start. I began feeling surrounded by love and wanting to float. My home was decluttered until it sparkled. I began to spoil myself with dance lessons, listening to music and painting, choosing to do something special for me every day, changing my attitude about… a lot of things.  Spoonful by spoonful I dug out the inner me and actually enjoyed my own company.

Whatever you have to think to create love for another, turn it on yourself. Crowd out habits that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past. Focus on what you need rather than what you want. You will know you love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. You need to love yourself so you can love others. It’s all about flow, like breast feeding a child. A mother thinks about nurturing herself so she can nurture her child. The more you nurture yourself, the more you can nurture others.

You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do.

Then you can teach your children how to love themselves by example. Start each day by finding something positive about yourself. How well you handled a situation, how good you look today. Embrace what makes you unique. Take better care of your basic needs. Get creative. Do things you love, bubble baths, yoga, walks, gardening. Put wonderful music on or an interesting podcast while doing chores. Nourish yourself daily through healthy nutrition, exercise, proper sleep and fun social interactions. It’s not selfish and benefits everyone around you. Treat others with love and respect. Practice gratitude. It makes us feel better about ourselves.

Self-love is a state of appreciation and respect for oneself that grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.

Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. The more love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relating. Even further, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.