How to Love Yourself the Secret to Happiness
by Debbie Mandel
The source of all health and happiness is a good self-concept. In other words, if you have good self-esteem, you will be a powerful magnet for the good things in life. This is not a fairy tale or some elusive mystical concept.
During the course of our lives others erode us, criticize us and make demands on us, including parents, teachers and friends. We begin to feel as though we don’t quite measure up; we’re not good enough. Our nagging doubts get transmitted to others both consciously and subconsciously. Once we begin to second-guess our competence and lovability, we look to others outside ourselves to validate us on an internal quality. Shouldn’t we be looking within?
We have to find our own way home - back to the self: To take small steps on the journey. If we stray a bit, no recriminations, but instead a pat on the back for the good steps we have already taken. Let us notice what we have done right and how far we have come; in the next moment we can get right back on our inward path. This is the most important journey we will ever take - the route to the self.
Because when we learn to really love ourselves, no one can trivialize us, disturb our inner peace, manipulate us or instill negativity in our hearts. We let all the remarks slide off. We eat right and exercise. We rest when we are tired. We value our time and space. Our bodies reflect our positive attitude by responding with energy and good health.
Often I am challenged during a workshop: “You make it sound very simple. I find it so hard to love myself and have a good self-image.” Here is how to get to the heart of the matter:
- Objectively see the patterns in your life, especially in your relationships. Once you are aware of a negative pattern, work step by step to change it. In other words: Do you always gravitate to an abusive man? Do you attract needy people who vent their troubles to you? Are you always playing the victim? In order to restore the balance, go to the opposite extreme to reach normalcy. Avoid what you cannot handle and move toward what you wish to be. Then act as if…
- Don’t let people talk you down. If someone is draining your spirit or your energy, quietly say, “I don’t want to talk about this now.” Then change the subject to something positive or uplifting. If the person is uncooperative, then leave or hang up the phone. Don’t do this with anger or sarcasm in your voice and body. Just smile, wave your hand and gracefully deflect the negativity. No one can drain your spirit if you don’t let him or her.
- Collect affirmations that touch your heartstrings. Paste them all over the place, especially inside the refrigerator. A friend of mine was able to give birth to a healthy baby even though the doctors said she would never be able to. She pasted affirmations everywhere she went like the bathroom mirror. She believed in herself.
- Have an answer ready when someone asks you, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Work on the answer at this moment and always be ready with your answer. Update when necessary.
- Meditate on expanding your heart to love yourself. Meditation will help you observe yourself and your thoughts with a third-person nonjudgmental awareness. If you love yourself, others will love you. How can you really love another person if you don’t love yourself?
- Objectify the situations that erode you, or people who criticize you with humor. Marie is very funny in the TV show Everyone Loves Raymond. Can you see your own mother-in-law in that light?
- Reinterpret the situation with compassion. For example, the person who manipulated you and accused you of being jealous of her is actually jealous of you. Are you angry at her for being human? How much better to be the object of envy than to be consumed by envy?
- Express your feelings and let them out. Don’t suppress them. If the person you are angry at is dead, write him or her a letter; then tear it up to symbolically liberate yourself.
- Be motivated to develop loving feelings for yourself. Start with volunteer work and feel how you are loved and appreciated.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com