Hi! I’m Steven. I’m a professional therapist, coach, trainer & author with over 20 years experience. I teach the latest psychological tools and techniques to help you transform and make a difference.
“Our most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves.”
As far as self-help advice goes this line is about as cheesy and cliched as they come.
But it also happens to be true.
Being able to love yourself for who you are is key when it comes to your own self-worth & self-esteem.
It’s what provides you with the stability and security to go after what you want in life, without being cripplingly fearful about what other people think.
Not having a solid sense of inner self-love can be a bit like building a house on weak foundations: no matter how fancy the house looks on the outside, it’s structurally vulnerable; it could easily crumble if any kind of pressure is applied.
People also respond to you, in accordance with how much you love yourself.
I’m not sure it’s entirely true that, “No-one will love you if you don’t love yourself”, but you’ll certainly have to work harder to get people to value you.
Lack of self-love can often leak out subconsciously within a relationship, giving off a vibe of ‘neediness’, which can then cause people to question your value.
And at the extreme, this neediness can drive people away faster than Lewis Hamilton at the start of a formula one race.
“The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves”.
There is of course, also the opposite problem: loving yourself too much to the point of narcissism.
But, in general, lack of self-love is the more common issue, and one that many people suffer from.
And what can be even more frustrating is that it can feel like it’s buried deep.
Like a wound that doesn’t seem to heal.
Like an invisible bungie chord that keeps pulling you back when you try to make any kind of meaningful progress in life.
So how do we start healing this wound?
How do we turn our attention to the inside and start to like what we see?
How can we love ourselves more?
Let’s take a look.
Step 1: Recognise that Self-Love is a Natural Way of Being
Self love is actually a lot closer than you think.
When going through hard times, or bouts of self-doubt or self-criticism, it can be easy to think that the solution is a million miles away; it can be easy to conclude that loving yourself is an utterly alien concept that would take years of therapy or mental conditioning to actualise.
I’d like you to consider though, that it’s actually a lot closer than you think.
In fact, I’d like you to consider that deep, pure, blissful self-love is part of your natural way fo being.
It’s a default state. It’s innate.
When you look at a baby or a small child they exude bliss and happiness. They positively ooze a sense of inner and outer inhibition. They are, as self-help author Byron Katie says, simply “Loving what is”.
They go through periods of turbulent emotions of course, but they tend to be episodic and easily forgotten. Once they’ve shaken them off they return back to a natural state of wonder, bliss and personal inhibition.
When you came out of your mothers’ womb you weren’t riddled with self-doubt; you didn’t suddenly break down into a psychological mess and demand a series of sessions with a reputable therapist.
This was something that you learned later on through a variety of different experiences.
And when you learned the ability to self-doubt or, at the extreme, perhaps even self-hate, it throttled your innate ability to love and cherish your own existence.
But the key word here is ‘throttled’.
When you throttle something you restrict the flow, but the potential to flow freely is still there.
By simply letting go of the throttle the system can return its natural balance. Your inner flux and flow will slip back into its innate rhythm without you having to do anything other than stop the throttle.
So I’d like to suggest that, in order to re-connect with the feeling of self-love, it’s more about seeing through the illusions of self-doubt – or self-hate – rather than building a new feeling from scratch.
It’s about fully recognising that when you look beyond the outer shell of angst, worry and self-doubt, there’s something pure and blissful within; there’s a strong core containing a form of pure & simple, personal bliss that can bring tears of love to the eye.
And no matter who you are, or what your situation is, it exists right now.
It’s a bit like the sun on a cloudy day. Even though you might not see it because of the clouds, it’s still there. And you can still feel its rays.
So what would it be like if your recognised this and allowed your innate sense of pure self-love to drift more to the forefront of your experience?
What would it be like if looked beyond the clouds of self-doubt and connect fully with your natural self-love?
Recognising that self-love exists within you right now is a bit like acknowledging that the sun is in the sky even when it’s cloudy.
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Step 2: Recognise your value
Another layer to self-love is ‘value’.
In essence, ‘love’ is an expression of extreme value. It’s where we make an assessment about something, and it passes with flying colours.
When we love someone externally it’s usually when they tick so many of our boxes – or value criteria – that we go into ‘value overdrive’.
As a result we get a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside that we then describe as love.
So when it comes to loving ourselves more, as well as acknowledging that it is our natural state, we can intensify it by recognising our own value.
How we perceive our value is subjective, and can change depending on whether we place our focus.
“Love is the ultimate validation of ‘value’; so the pathway to unadulterated self-love is to learn to value yourself more”.
One example of this is when you ‘fall out of love’ with someone.
Perhaps the relationship is suddenly fractured and you start to see them in a completely different light. You go from love to apathy, or perhaps even loathing!
As if by magic, you no longer see the value they had to offer. Perhaps you even said to a friend, “I’ve no idea what I saw in him/her!”
A couple of things can cause this: either what you value has changed from when you first met, or your perception of their value has changed.
When it comes to how we perceive our own value it can also be a subjective experience.
Sometimes we can easily see our talents and potential, whereas other times it’s like they’re locked up in a cave.
Spending time recognising and re-connecting with your value is important though. It’s easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of modern life and forget about all the good you possess.
The more you connect with your value – both what you currently possess and your potential – the more you will intensify your inner sense of self-love.
Here’s a powerful exercise that can help you recognise your own value more:
- Grab a piece of paper – or use a journal – and make two columns: one with the title ‘current value’ and the other with the title ‘future value’.
- In the ‘current value’ column, make a list, using keywords, of all the positive, loveable traits you possess. It can also be a good idea to jot down some past experiences where you demonstrated these traits.
- Then in the ‘future value’ column, write down a list of areas you would like to develop. If you like you can create some goals from these areas.
- Then go back to the ‘current value’ column and spend some time vividly imagining each of the traits. For this, you can go back, inside your mind, and relive the past experiences where you demonstrated them. Send some time reconnecting with the memory and feeling associated with these traits.
- Now go back to the ‘future value’ column, and write down some actions. What could you do in your immediate future that would develop these areas?
By going through this process, you’ll start to recognise your value more.
And of course, more value equals more love.
Step 3: Use 'The Self-Love Technique'.
If you’re looking for a more technique-based approach to loving yourself more, then you can use ‘The Self-Love Technique’.
This powerful imagination technique draws from the teachings of NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) and can be easily learned and put into use.
It involves using your imagination to step into the shoes of someone who loves, respects, or admires you.
And then from there, inside your mind, you look back at yourself through their eyes and notice the qualities that you, most likely, have been taking for granted.
The reason this can be so powerful is because we are often too close to ourselves to properly assess our talents and capabilities.
We need to get out of our own way in order to be objective.
Also, people who love, respect and admire you tend to see things that you don’t, and, in some cases, they value you unconditionally.
By viewing yourself from this perspective, it can create a powerful shift in the way that you feel about yourself. It can give you license to feel the full force of unconditional self-love.
If you’d like a break down of The Self Love Technique, and some more information about it, here’s a short video where I explain it in more depth.
Loving your self is important.
It’s the foundation that props up your self-worth, self-esteem, and ability to hold down fulfilling relationships. And it also affects how you deal with times of adversity.
- It’s time to recognise that self-love is one of your innate, default settings.
- It’s time to build on this strong foundation by recognising your value.
- It’s time to see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you.
Because it’s true:
“Your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.”
All the best