How to Create a Path Towards Greater Self-Acceptance
What does it mean to embrace self-love? For some of us, it can seem like an impossible task. Patterns of negative self-talk, shame, and fear can prevent us from showing ourselves compassion, even when we have the capacity to love and accept our friends and family members for who they are. We are able to love other people when they aren’t at their best, so why do we have such unreasonably high expectations of ourselves?
First, it is important to know that there’s nothing “wrong” with you. When you’re feeling down and out about who you are, the thoughts that create a story around your sense of worth are not a mirror of reality ー they are simply faulty wiring in your neural pathways, created due to the experiences you have had from the moment you were born (and even before that). The connection between the mind and the body’s safety sensors is a powerful one, and many of the issues that we tend to beat ourselves up for often come down to a dysregulated nervous system. Knowing this may not stop the damaging thoughts and self-criticisms from flooding into your head, but it does mean that you can help to change them, by reaching for the right tools to begin healing your mind-body connection and reprogramming your brain.
Even the decision of making your healing a priority is an act of self-love, so if you have begun a quest to develop more of it, you’re already going in the right direction through your desire to learn how to get there. Here are some steps to keep you moving forward, until you can say a wholehearted YES to who you are and what you truly deserve.
Respond to your inner critic
Write down all of your self-criticisms ー all of the mean things your inner monologue says about why you aren’t enough ー and respond with a big old SO WHAT? Then write a compassionate reply, as if a dear friend was coming to you with this problem. You can also respond as if a stranger was saying these things to you. Embrace that indignation! Remind your inner critic that you are doing your best. Keep up this practice with everything that comes up – whether it happens internally or as a journaling practice. Even when you disappoint yourself, which we all do sometimes, you can simply say to yourself: “I know you’re trying. It’s ok. I trust you to do better next time.”
Give yourself an embrace. Literally. Wrap your arms around yourself, kiss them, and use the Hawaiian forgiveness practice of Ho’oponopono by saying “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Forgiving ourselves for all of the poor choices we made out of fear or shame, the things we have done to others, and the way we have treated ourselves in this one precious life, is a crucial step on the path to self-love. Forgiveness is a powerful process that releases us from negative emotions, patterns, and circumstances, and we can only move forward when we have cut that cord.
Audit your social media feeds
Make sure the accounts you are following on social media are of people showing up authentically in their own life. Unfollow the accounts that leave you feeling icky and lacking. Follow people that you feel accurately represent you, and who are doing amazing things. Follow people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and who aren’t afraid to keep it real by posting with no makeup on and in their grubbiest sweats, for the sake of showing up authentically rather than performatively. Follow people that spread good vibes while caring about what’s going on in the world. Follow the people that show themselves love and compassion every day, learn from them, and get comfortable in this space of self-respect and self-acceptance. You are just as deserving as all of these people online to be at ease with yourself. If the word “follow” makes you uncomfortable for any reason, replace it with the phrase “expose yourself to” ー when you think of it this way, it can help to clarify to yourself that anyone you allow into that sphere, digitally or otherwise, is someone that has the ability to influence and affect the energy you’re being subjected to on a regular basis.
Find a loving community
Trying to love yourself in isolation is not easy, and it can be difficult to break negative patterns when many of the people in your life also struggle with self-acceptance. Join a group, club, or sports team where you can engage in the positive emotions of being part of a supportive community. It could be anything from a local knitting group, choir, or rugby team to an engaged online community of motorbike enthusiasts. Whatever you’re interested in, you will find a tribe somewhere.
Find your movement medicine
Finding a movement practice that feels good is a great step towards getting to know your body – not for how it looks, but for what it can do. Everyone is unique in how they like to move, so try out different sports, exercises, gyms, running routes, yoga teachers, or music genres to dance to, until you find that thing that makes it feel like you have come home to your body. And then keep doing it. This will help you to start listening to your body, teaching you what feels good and what it needs ー and from this your relationship with yourself will open up with more love, nurture, and self-esteem. Remember that the more love you direct towards yourself, the more love you will be pumping into the planet as a whole. The path to self-love is not linear, but as long as you are offering yourself as much compassion as you can, every day, and whatever is going on, your self-love will only grow – and so much good stuff will follow.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: What Is Self-Love?; Changing Brains, Changing Lives; Neuroplasticity And Clinical Practice.
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