Since time immemorial, poets, gurus, and philosophers have toiled to define the most potent and indispensable word in the human language—LOVE. Some have heralded it as the force that makes the world go ’round. Others have described it in terms of the pain it can cause when it’s not returned. It’s been used to denote the feeling a parent has for their child and that a lover has for their beloved. In truth, we hear about love all the time but don’t discuss as often as we should how important SELF-LOVE is—and more importantly, how it is the foundation for a healthy life, full of self-compassion. When we can establish habits, practices, and routines of self-love, we will find ourselves to be more authentic and honest, we will tend to enforce healthy boundaries in relationships, and we will be more grateful and compassionate.
To begin the journey of self-love, begin by implementing healthy routines for yourself. Be consistent! Go to bed at a decent hour and get six to eight hours of sleep every night. Establish a physical commitment, like walking 30 minutes a day, signing up for a workout class three days a week, or stretching and practicing breathwork when you wake up. Go grocery shopping and make healthy food choices every Sunday for the week ahead!
Create a routine that works for you and that you will be proud of. And when your head hits the pillow every night, congratulate yourself on how you honored yourself that day, that week, and that month, and see how much better you feel.
LEARNING COMPASSION THROUGH AFFIRMATIONS
One of the best methods for silencing the negative voices in our heads is to work with affirmations, especially guided meditations that can be listened to aloud. The gentle words of a healer can land deeply within our consciousness and replace the voices of those who damaged us. Over time, we can’t help but believe the new messages we are absorbing. There are many free apps on our phones. Or go online and Google “guided meditations”—YouTube has tons, and there is plenty of literature out there you can use too!
Looking into the mirror and reciting affirmations is likewise highly effective. Making eye contact with yourself and expressing love, appreciation, and respect may strike some as corny or over the top, but if that is your reaction, perhaps it’s time to give it a try. People who love themselves unconditionally can express self-love without making a joke out of it.
– You are strong and capable.
– You are a lovable person.
– You deserve self-care and self-respect.
– You are beautiful inside and out.
I have lists of affirmations plus more information on self-love, self-compassion, and how to create healthy habits in my book, The Rewired Life.
Another extremely useful exercise I developed to help clients is called the Compliment Log. It’s a small journal you carry with you to record every nice thing that others say about you or you catch yourself saying to yourself. Being smiled at, invited out, hugged, or otherwise included/embraced also counts. If you do this consistently, you will be amazed by the changes in your perception. Suddenly, you may find the world full of benevolence rather than hostility. You will begin to accept your own wonderfulness and own it, no longer able to deny the evidence before you, all of which is attesting to your true value.
Erica Spiegelman is a wellness specialist, recovery counselor, and author of the new book The Rewired Life (2018) as well as Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction & Recovery(2015), the Rewired Workbook (2017), the Rewired Coloring Book (2017), all published by Hatherleigh Press. Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Arizona and is a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC)-II from UCLA. For more information, visit Erica’s website or follow @espiegelman on Instagram.