Take a moment and close your eyes, and think of five things or people you love. Go ahead, play along, I will wait.
What came to mind? Did you say, “I love my pet, my wife, my child, my home, ice cream”? On your list did you include yourself? When we look at all the things we love, we often fail to love ourselves.
Right now if you were to say out loud “I love myself”, how would it make you feel? Would discomfort rise; would you laugh, thinking it was silly to say; or would it sit comfortably with you and bring a smile to your face.
Where we might find it easy to love others, it is often most difficult to love ourselves. We are quick to see our faults, and fail to see our own beauty and value. Our inner critic can speak loudly, cutting us down, versus building us up.
Too often our inner critic speaks to us in ways we would never to a friend, for it would be too harsh, too critical. So in loving ourselves, we must focus on work on raising our consciousness of what we can appreciate about ourselves. This may take deep practice to make, because it can make us uncomfortable.
Take a moment and close your eyes. As you place your hands on your heart, take a deep breath in and gently let it out. Begin to repeat to yourself, “I love myself.” Go ahead and repeat it ten times. When done sit with your eyes close, take in another deep breath, and let it go. As you open eyes, notice how it made you feel.
You may feel uneasy, and that is okay. You may have said it, but did not truly believe it, and maybe it brought tears to your eyes as emotions began to rise. Any reaction you have, just witness without judging it. Invite yourself to visit with this practice three times a day.
For those who would like a deeper practice, look in the mirror and tell your reflection you love yourself.
Each time your inner critic begins to speak, replace it with “I love myself.” Over time it will get easier and you will begin to feel it and speak it with more confidence. Next time you make the list of the things and people you love, I hope you find yourself at the top of the list.