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Extra Lessons: 5
2. Cultivate Self-love
Transcript of the video lesson:
Why is self-love important?
You’re probably taking this course because you want to find that sweet love sensation in relationships, so why a lesson on self-love? Because most relationship problems wouldn’t exist if you would love yourself deeply and unconditionally. Consider the following:
If you love yourself, you are enough for you, and so you don’t have to be afraid of being alone or afraid of being abandoned. The love you give yourself will be enough. All the other love you’ll get will just feel like very welcome extra love. If self-love is that delicious dessert, love from others is the cherry on top.
If you love yourself, you’re not afraid of being rejected, and thus you don’t have to act in any other way than being fully you. This will result in you being loved for who you truly are.
If you love yourself, you enjoy your own company so much that you can still love spending time with others, but you will never be needy for their company. And so you won’t push people away with any neediness.
The more you love yourself unconditionally, the easier it will be to love every other person unconditionally. Instead of trying to change yourself and others, you’ll find yourself more and more in a state of peaceful, loving acceptance. (A little extra note here: self-acceptance does not result in apathy, because there will still be self-love motivated actions to make your life even more enjoyable for yourself, without feeling unhappy about your status quo.)
These are all benefits for your relationships with others. The biggest benefit of cultivating self-love, however, will be that, even when you’re going through rough times in your life, you will always feel happy to spend every minute of your life with none other than YOU.
In this lesson you will learn:
- To let go of any possible fear of starting the self-love journey
- How to cultivate self-love
- 3 Tips that will make that easy for you
- How to continue being available for your own heart
Is it hard to learn to love yourself? Is it even possible to love yourself unconditionally? Yes, it is possible, and it doesn’t need to be hard. Whether it will be just one easy step for you or years of practice, depends on where you are on your journey. The only two things I can really say about this is: 1) Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it “right” within a certain time span, you’re awesome and capable of learning, practice makes perfect. And 2) the practice will probably be joyful from beginning to end!
Are you scared to love yourself?
Before we start with learning how to love ourselves, I want to address the fear that some have to go on this journey. One of the test users of this course explained it this way:
‘I am scared to start loving myself as I don’t trust it will really give me what I am looking for: love! What you say is that you don’t need others when you love yourself but there is no trust I can love myself and when I try that I have to go through more pain and loneliness and maybe end up living the rest of my life in pain and alone. How can I get over my fear?’
To get over this fear, please see that there is nothing for you to lose. It might seem as if you would miss out on love from others when you start focusing on learning to love yourself, but this really doesn’t need to be that way. Learning to love yourself does not mean that you have to say no to love from others. If you have a desire to be loved by others, saying no to love that comes your way, or stopping to reach out to others, would actually be the opposite of self-loving. So you can remain open to love from others while practicing self-love. Moreover, when you learn to love yourself, you will become so much more attractive for others, and thus you will have less chance of being alone.
Loneliness can seem scary. Especially when you, like many, have been co-dependent for virtually all of your life. Have you always had someone to lean on?
Arial: “I did, for the first part of my life. For me, my parents first had this role, then my sister, then various monogamous love relationships that quickly followed each other up. I remember the first moment of my life where I was completely single and moving into a house where I would live all by myself. I was scared. Family and friends had helped me move and my whole house was ready for me to live in, but I stayed hanging around in my ex boyfriend’s house for days, – to his delight – until I finally became aware enough of my fear to be ready to face it. And when I did, within a day of being alone in that house, I started loving it so much. I thought: Why didn’t I do this earlier?! I never knew how wonderful it felt to have my own little palace and have every little thing in the house keeping my way. And even more wonderful: I never knew how out of my own center I had been all the time from always relying on others. I very easily moved into a more balanced and graceful state just by finally landing in my own vibration.”
So yes, loneliness can be scary, but is such a wonderful gift as well!
Is the journey itself, of learning to love yourself painful? I don’t think so. If there is self-hate or self-loathing inside of you, it might be triggered by starting the journey of self-love, but it was already there, and you just started healing it. So if you do come across some pain when you try to love yourself for the first time, this pain is similar to the pain you feel when you drop some disinfectant into a wound. This wound, equal to the absence of self-love, was already there and is the real cause of your pain, not the disinfectant. Self-love is here to heal you. You do not need to be afraid of healing.
How to cultivate self-love?
We will cultivate self-love by talking to ourselves in the most loving way we can.
Aren’t we talking to ourselves all the time? Inside our minds we say things to ourselves like: ‘I lost my wallet, how stupid of me!’ or ‘I should get better at this.’ or maybe we tell ourselves: ‘I hate you.’ Let’s make these conversations with ourselves more loving!
Start out with: “I want to learn how to love you!”
You have made the decision that you want to learn how to love yourself more, for otherwise, you wouldn’t be taking this lesson. Great! Why not put a hand on your heart and find your own way of saying to yourself something along the lines of: “I have decided I want to love you more than I have ever done before. I don’t know yet exactly how to do that, but I’m willing to learn. I want to make you feel loved, I want to make you feel happy. I care about you.” The exact words don’t matter, just get the message across in a loving and genuine way. Pause the video for this right now and return when your heart has received the message that you want to learn how to love it.
Keep sending that love!
And just as lovers like to tell each other sometimes even multiple times a day how much they love each other, even so, it does not hurt to keep sending yourself love by telling yourself multiple times a day that you want to love yourself even more. Your heart will be happy to receive your loving messages time and time again. There is no limit to the amount of “I love you’s”.
Love can be expressed in an infinite amount of ways. Your heart will love it if you find more and more ways to express your love. Here’s a little list of loving things I would like you to say to yourself. Please repeat after me:
– I love you exactly as you are.
– You are beautiful.
– You are so sweet.
– I want to be as sweet to you as I can.
– I love spending every minute of this life with you.
– Thank you for everything.
– I forgive you for everything of the past, the present and the future. You are now forgiven already.
– My heart is open for you.
– My heart is your home.
– I love all of you.
– You are the best.
– You melt me.
– I am here for you.
– Whatever happens, whoever you will become, whatever you will do, I love you.
– My love for you is unconditional.
– You are welcome.
– You are perfect the way you are.
– I accept you.
– I will love you through every hardship
– I am here to see all of you.
– I am not afraid of your shadow side, I want to know you as deeply as possible. I embrace the dark within you.
– You light up my heart.
– Thank you.
– I love you.
– I want to tell you whatever you want to hear.
– I am looking for more ways to express my love to you, and I am open to know your every desire so that I can give you even more love.
– I give you my heart.
– I surrender to loving you.
– I dedicate myself to you.
– I want you to feel loved always, and I will tell you “I love you” as many times as needed for you to feel my love every second of your life deeply anchored in your heart.
– You are important to me.
– I will always love you.
I encourage you to use these loving sentences as inspiration to also find your own creative ways. Take this moment to come up with a minimum of 3 other ways to express love to yourself. Put your awareness in your heart space and say those things to yourself. Allow yourself the time to feel what is does to you. Pause the video here and take you time.
We’ll now look into three tips to find even more ways to express love to yourself.
Tip 1: Learn from how you treat others
Many people are able to treat others in a more loving way than they treat themselves. If you are among those people, there is a great opportunity here to start loving yourself in the same ways.
- How would you treat a small child? Don’t you comfort a little boy when he’s scared? Don’t you forgive a little girl for every mistake she makes, maybe even before she makes the mistake? Aren’t you indulgent with every expression of mischievousness? Don’t you want to make the child smile? Treat yourself at least as sweetly as you would treat a small child.
- How do you treat cute animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits? Don’t you like to cuddle them for no reason at all? Don’t you like to take care of them without asking for anything in return? They are allowed to just be themselves and be loved for whom they are. Are you?
- How do you treat your best friend, lover or a loved family member? Don’t you like to listen to their stories, whether they are of joy or of sorrow? Don’t you like to let them know how much you appreciate them? Do you treat yourself in the same way? Do you listen to yourself, whether your current story is one of joy or of sorrow? Do you let yourself know how much you appreciate them?
Tip 2: Learn from how others treat you
Arial: “In 2016 I was with a lover on Maui who used to tell me often that he would always love me. I could not even imagine that. Isn’t the future a mystery? Isn’t it unrealistic to say “I will always love you”? And yet, he seemed totally genuine. It made me realize that in many ways he loved me more than I loved myself. I decided to learn from that and start to love myself at least as much as he did. I started saying to myself “I will always love you”, and soon it started making sense to me. Why would I ever love myself less than before? Because my ability to love is growing all the time! Moreover, unconditional love is indestructible, and thus forever.”
Jordan: “Whenever I receive a compliment that I can’t fully embrace, that doesn’t fully resonate and feel true to me, I stop and ask myself “What is that about?”. Someone recently told me “I love every part of your body”. My reaction was like “whoa, hold up, I’m not sure I can fully receive that compliment”. I asked myself, what parts of myself do I not yet love? Why don’t I love those parts of myself? Can I learn to love those parts of myself? Listening to the way other people compliment you can be extremely eye opening in regards to what is easy for you to hear and what is difficult.”
So besides learning from how you treat others, the other way around is also possible: if others treat you in some aspect more loving than you treat you, that’s a great opportunity to receive that love and learn to give it to yourself as well.
- Sometimes a lover may say things to you, you have never said to yourself. Take those expressions as gifts and practice saying them to yourself.
- Another time you may notice that a good friend accepts you more fully than you accept yourself. Take that acceptance as a gift, and start accepting yourself just as much.
- Do you notice how dogs can express happiness when they see you, every single time? Let’s start saying to yourself ‘I’m happy to see you!’ every time you see yourself in the mirror, and every morning you wake up with yourself.
- Ever gotten compliments that you were not able to receive because they seemed to outrageously flattering? Next time, just say thanks, and let it in. If that’s hard, just suspend your disbelief and let the new information soak for a little bit in your being. And next time someone gives you that same compliment, you might even be able to reply a happy ‘I know!’
Tip 3: Learn from how others love each other
And finally, we can take from how others express their love for each other. If you hear a couple saying something sweet to each other, practice saying that to yourself. If you hear a love song on the radio, imagine yourself singing those words to yourself.
If watching couples act lovingly towards each other causes you to feel envy, lack or some other kind of pain, hang in for the next section:
Unconditional Love: Embrace whatever you encounter
There are certain challenging situations which can make it more difficult for you to love yourself. Such as when dealing with feelings of insecurity, shame or unhappiness. Ideally, self-love is unconditional, and thus you can tell yourself: “I want to love you in whatever situation. Whatever happens, I will love you.” To lovingly allow your heart to feel whatever emotion comes up, without suppressing or judging, is to set your heart truly free.
Different situations ask for different ways to hold the space for yourself. Here are a few examples how you can love yourself in a challenging situation, to give you the right taste of how to do that. The clue, however, is simple: love is always the answer to every situation.
- If you did something embarrassing in a social situation and you’re feeling shame: Allow that emotion, and hold the space for yourself while the storm rages in your heart. Tell yourself: “It’s okay that you feel shame. Take whatever time you need. I am here for you. And I will love you all the way through it. Whatever other people might think of you, I love you deeply. You’re awesome. I love the hell out of every embarrassing part of you. You’re sweet, you’re cute, you’re perfect for me, you will always be enough for me.” You might even play a little bit with the situation and tell yourself: “At least I’m not ashamed of loving you recklessly!”
- If you treated someone badly and you’re feeling guilt: Again allow that emotion to be felt in your heart as much as is needed for the emotion to go away by itself. While you’re feeling the pain in your heart, put a hand on your heart. Say to yourself: “I know you’re feeling bad and I want to be here for you. You know I love you regardless of what you do. I wish only the best, loving relationships for you. And whenever something else than love occurs in your relations with others, I will just try to send you all the love that your broken heart needs. I forgive you for hurting someone else, I see your innocence. I see your side of the story and I know you did the best you could at that moment. I accept all of you.”
- If you made a mistake at work that cost you your job: You might feel strong emotions here. Softly say to yourself: “I don’t blame you, mistakes are human. You are human and I accept every single part of you. Even when others tell you you’re not good enough, you are good enough for me. Always. You don’t even have to ask for forgiveness, you’re already forgiven. If even there is anything to forgive since this is you and I love all of you. You making mistakes just makes you real, and vulnerable, and that’s amazingly beautiful. Whatever hardship happens, I believe in you.”
You see: love is always the answer to every situation. Especially the last two examples may trigger you to feel as if it’s appropriate to be hard on yourself, to blame yourself or to punish yourself. In the next section, you’ll find out more on how to love yourself in those challenging situations.
What if I believe I should be hard on myself?
Honestly, there is no situation ever in which you should be hard on yourself. Maybe the Christian church taught you that you are sinful and that you cannot forgive yourself. Here’s news for you: You are not sinful. And you are always able to forgive yourself fully. Maybe your parents gave you the impression that punishment is the right follow-up to “bad behavior”, whatever that may be. You don’t ever have to be punished. Ever. If you believe you did something wrong, please give yourself all the love that is needed to heal that wound. And maybe the school system taught you that you should be hard on yourself so that you would have the discipline to make yourself learn things that you were not even interested in. You deserved more love than that. You deserve nothing less than love, ever. There is never a reason to be hard on yourself, blame yourself or punish yourself. Everything is a reason to love yourself more.
Validate your emotions
A little side note on the last paragraph: Although beliefs like ‘I have to punish myself when I behave badly’ might not be real, emotions are always real. It is loving to validate whatever emotion you have and hold the space for that for yourself. So if you feel angry at yourself, let yourself be angry at yourself. Feel it, surrender to it. And love yourself as much as possible at the same time. Negative emotions will always go away by themselves, you don’t have to suppress or invalidate them. Acceptance is actually much easier and more effortless, just give up on the fight with these negative emotions. Allow what is to be. And love yourself as best as you can while you’re going through these emotions.
Pitfall: judging (your judgments of) “not enough progress”
A pitfall many people encounter on their journey towards more self-love (or whatever kind of personal or spiritual growth) can be negative judgments about the learning progress. It’s normal that growth can be erratic. Sometimes it seems as if you learned something, but in another moment the same problem reappears. You might feel deeply in love with yourself this week, but maybe next week you will feel like you have fallen out of love. Setbacks happen. It’s not unusual to blame ourselves for that, to be disappointed in ourselves. So what to do with these negative self-judgements?
If you hear yourself judging, try first to not judge that. And if you did judge your judgment, don’t worry, just don’t judge that. And so forth… If this confuses you a bit, that’s fine, just tell yourself: “You can judge, you have full permission always, and I won’t judge you for judging. Because I love you no matter what.”
Here’s some more on learning to love the unloving part of yourself:
Love the unloving you
For most people, the so-called negative self-talk soundtrack inside their heads is a daily reality. You might feel you’re hating yourself in different ways as well. A powerful and beautiful image to use here is that of a white flag. When there’s a war raging within you, and you notice beating yourself up again, picture yourself standing tall with a white flag in your hand and tell yourself: “You may not love me, and that’s okay, I will love you unconditionally anyway.” While you approach ‘the enemy within’ with the white flag in your hands, be willing to be shot dead and heart-broken. Fighting back will only prolong the war, possibly up until the moment you die. Instead, surrender to love, it’s the most powerful thing you can do.
Here’s a little poem Arial wrote on surrendering to love:
I give my gun away to you
With white flag I stand
Open heart, open hands
This is the war I end
Shoot your bullets right through my heart
And I’ll have nothing left to do
Than just love you
What about my least favorite parts of me?
Are you up for a challenge? Let’s try to love the parts of ourselves that we love the least. Those are often the parts that we either try to change or actually make worse because we’re rebelling against our own self-hate.
Example: say you don’t like your belly because you think it’s too fat. You might try diets to ‘get rid of it’, and you might at the same time feel pressured by yourself which makes you want to eat all that is unhealthy even more. I’m not encouraging you to go to the gym. I’m not discouraging it either because it might be a great experience. The point is to start accepting and loving that part of yourself in this moment, whether you’re in the gym or eating chips.
Forgive this part of yourself, forgive yourself for hating it, forgive all that needs forgiveness. How do you forgive? Simply by saying: ‘I forgive you (for …). I love you. I really love you.’ And you can, for example, add: ‘I understand if you feel afraid of the hate that was previously there, but you’re safe now.’’ The next thing you might like to say to yourself is: ‘You’re already forgiven. I still love you, and I will always love you. And I’m willing to tell you that over and over again.’ If you’re eating chips, tell yourself: ‘I love you when you’re eating chips.’ If you’re exercising, tell yourself: ‘I love you when you’re exercising’.
If you practice this enough, you will find yourself at a point where there’s nothing left to forgive, there are only things to love. Nothing about you needs to change for that, just your perspective. So there are no prerequisites to loving yourself. You don’t need to lose weight or look differently, you don’t need to start exercising, overcome your addictions, be more productive, make more money, do more voluntary work, or start treating others more nicely, nothing of all of that. You might feel inspired to do these things, but you don’t need to in order to be able to love yourself. The only thing you need to do to love yourself is to start loving whoever you are in every moment.
Surround yourself with loving people
We saved this advice for almost the end of the lesson because it’s the most powerful to find self-love within, regardless of how others treat you. It does make sense, however, to ask yourself: Do the people that are in my life make it harder or easier for me to love myself?
Avoid having people in your life who judge you, who don’t accept you, who give you only conditional love or who don’t respect you. And do surround yourself with people who love you a lot, accept you and love you as you are. The least you can do, if you find it hard to ban certain people out of your life, is ask them to not share their judgments with you, and to just accept you as you are.
Surrounding yourself with the right people, or asking others to treat you in an accepting manner, is a self-loving thing to do.
Ask your heart what more it needs
Although I hope to have given you enough information, instructions, and examples to sky-rocket your level of self-love, there might still be very personal needs left that are not covered in this lesson. A powerful gift to yourself is to ask your heart right now: “What more can I do for you to make you feel as loved as possible?” Pause right now and see what comes up. Very good. Another great question, that I learned from Matt Kahn, and you’ll definitely find some video’s of his in the resources section, is: “What words have not been said to you by others that you have always wanted to hear?” Again, pause here to say the things to yourself that you have always wanted to hear.
And more often than not there are still wounds in our hearts from being treated badly, or from heartbreaks. You can heal your own heart by becoming aware of what is in there. Put a hand on your heart and ask your heart: “I will do my very best to be lovingly present with whatever wants to arise. Is there anything that wants to be felt right now?” If something comes up, hold the space for that and the loving energy of just being present for yourself will heal your wounds. Pause here again and take your time.
For the sake of keeping things short, we have mainly focused on how to talk lovingly to ourselves but there are of course also self-loving behaviors. Like nurturing yourself with a warm bath, eating well, resting, or taking yourself on a date. When you ask your heart what more it needs, it might give you some inspiration for something it would like you to do. Listen to that too. Pause now to ask yourself: “Is there something you would like me to do?”
And so we have asked our heart what more you can do to make it feel loved, what it wants to hear, what wants to be felt, and what it wants you to do. If you have listened carefully and nothing more came up, for now, end this lesson with saying to your heart: “You are always welcome to let me know what more you need. I love to hear your desires, and I love to hear what you struggle with. I am here to listen to you, to feel you, and I’m always available for you. I love you deeply.”
In this lesson you learned:
- That self-love is important for your relationships as it frees you from neediness, fear of loneliness or lack of self-worth. So that you can be more relaxed when relating to others.
- That you don’t need to be afraid of starting the self-love journey, as you have nothing to lose by doing so, and it will bring you healing.
- To cultivate self-love by talking to yourself in the most loving way you can.
- To get creative with the way you express love to yourself, and to find inspiration in how you treat others, how others treat you, and how others love each other.
- Unconditional love: to embrace whatever you encounter
- To not be hard on yourself
- To validate your emotions and love yourself while in emotional turmoil
- To also love yourself when you’re judging or unloving, by being the first one to give up the fight within your mind and surrendering to love
- To make loving yourself easier by surrounding yourself with loving people
- To ask your heart what more it needs, and to tell it you are always willing to listen to whatever comes up. So that you feel safe and carried by yourself
Before we go to a really juicy lesson that will immediately kickstart clear communication in your relationships, we have one other lesson coming up that will lay the necessary fundamentals for great relationship skills: the next lesson will show you how to build confidence.
Transcript of the exercise video:
In this exercise, you’ll cultivate self-love. You can do this exercise as often as you want to. Since it’s a mental exercise, I suggest to do it with your eyes closed and in a relaxed meditative state. Let’s start. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably in a place where you won’t get disturbed. Then take a deep breath in. Close your eyes. Slowly breath out and relax.
Can you imagine a version of yourself that is very self-loving? What would you be like? … How would your life be different? … How would you feel? … Imagine that you’re never afraid of being alone, abandoned or rejected because you’re always happy to spend time with yourself.
Now put a hand on your heart and state the intention, by repeating out loud or silently within your own mind the following: I want to learn how to love you more.
Think of how you treat small children. Are you in some ways more loving to them than to yourself? Maybe sweeter, more indulgent, more generous, more playful? … Choose one of the ways in which you’re more loving to children than to yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
Think of how you treat animals that you like. Are you in some ways more loving towards cats, dogs or other animals than to yourself? Maybe you accept them more the way they are? Maybe you take better care of their health than of your own health? … Choose one of the ways in which you’re more loving to animals than to yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
Think of how you treat your loved ones, like friends and family. Are you in some ways more loving towards them than to yourself? Maybe more encouraging, more forgiving, more grateful, more appreciative? … Choose one of the ways in which you’re more loving towards your loved ones than to yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
Now think of how others who love you treat you. Are there ways in which they treat you more lovingly than you treat yourself? Maybe they express more love, more appreciation, more encouragement? … Choose one of the ways in which others are more loving towards you than you to yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
Now think of a very loving couple that you know well. Are there ways in which they treat each other more lovingly than you treat yourself? Maybe they give each other a lot of compliments? Or gifts? Or cuddles? … Choose one of the ways in which they treat each other more lovingly than you treat yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
Now think of a very loving family that you know well. Are there ways in which they treat each other more lovingly than you treat yourself? Maybe they are very accepting of each other? Or always willing to listen to each other’s stories or sorrows? … Choose one of the ways in which they treat each other more lovingly than you treat yourself, and set the intention to start treating yourself in that same loving way.
We’ll now go into unconditional love, embracing everything we encounter in ourselves. Think of a situation you have encountered in the past in which it was hard to love yourself. Maybe because you were disappointed or angry with yourself. … First, validate the emotions you had in that situation. What were you feeling? And even if it’s sadness or self-hate, let every feeling just be felt right now, welcome it into your heart. … Put a hand on your heart and say to yourself that you want to be there for yourself during every difficult situation.
Think of a part of yourself that you really don’t love. Maybe a self-destructive habit, or a body part or characteristic that you believe is unacceptable. Choose one to work with. … Forgive yourself for not loving it. Have compassion with your own judgments and self-hate. Whatever is you, is okay. Whatever is you, is welcome. … Now forgive this part of you that you don’t love. Even if you still want to change it, accept that it exists right now, welcome it in the reality of the now moment. … You don’t have to be perfect to love yourself. Again put a hand on your heart and then tell yourself: ‘I love you, regardless of…. Fill in the blank’.
Now end the exercise by taking a deep breath into your heart center, open your eyes while you slowly breathe out.
Transcript of the affirmations video:
- I love myself
- I am beautiful
- I am so sweet
- I want to be as sweet to myself as I can
- I love spending every minute of this life with myself
- I thank myself for everything
- I forgive myself for everything of the past, the present and the future. I am now forgiven already.
- My heart is open for myself
- I love all of me
- Whatever happens, whoever I will become, and whatever I will do, I love myself.
- My self-love is unconditional
- I am welcome within myself
- I am perfect the way I am
- I accept myself
- I will love myself through every hardship
- I am here to see all of me
- I am not afraid of my shadow side, I want to know myself as deeply as possible. I embrace the dark within myself.
- I am the one lighting up my own heart
- I speak lovingly to myself
- I look for ways to express love to myself and I am open to know my every heart’s desire so that I can give myself love by fulfilling those
- My heart is my home
- I surrender to loving myself
- I dedicate myself to me
- I tell myself that I love myself as many times as needed for me to feel my own love deeply anchored in my heart
- I will always love myself