Take the self-love challenge and discover the beauty within.
By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway"
1. Create a Self-Love "Curriculum"
Lack of self-esteem can grab hold in times of stress and challenge, and self-loathing is fueled by exhaustion and hopelessness. Self-love can be reborn by making a commitment to add life-affirming activities to daily life. It is crucial that we nourish ourselves--body, mind, and spirit. This does not mean going to a spa every few years. It has to be blended into our lifestyles and treated with as much importance as a doctor's appointment or worship service. Many of us are very generous with those around us.
2. Replace Self-Defeat with Self-Love
Being kind to yourself is a healthy habit to get into. Work to release feelings of regret, angst, fear, and anxiety, and instead fill up with love, joy, possibility, and spirit. For example, does your current morning meditation include sipping coffee while berating yourself for a goof-up at work, worrying about something that happened between you and a friend, or giving yourself guilt because of that chocolate cake you ate? If someone else were beating up on you the way you beat up on yourself, you'd fight back. In this case, you have to learn to fight the urge to defeat your own purpose in life and replace repetitive, negative thinking with that which uplifts you heart and soul. The First Step: Begin with a prayer to be filled with Divine Presence and possibility--positive, hopeful thoughts and ideas. Create a new intention that if you slip into negative self-talk you will switch your focus. Try a special mantra or affirmation that can redirect your energy. Some possibilities to get you started: I am one with God. I am a good person. Light fills my being. I radiate good energy and thoughts.
3. Open Your Heart
We may say we want love, success, and happiness, but we don't always back up our dreams with self-honoring actions. Without self-love, we have no foundation to uphold or contain love, self-esteem, and true potential. Someone can love you with more heart than you ever imagined, but where will it go if you have no internal mechanism for recognizing pure love? The universe can shower you with opportunities, but you will miss the best plums on the tree because you won't think you deserve to reach for them.The First Step: Take 10 to 20 minutes every morning to meditate to a piece of music that feels heart-opening to you. One that I like is this moving and soul-stirring chant, "Open My Heart," by Ana Hernandez and Ruth Cunningham, from their CD HARC: Inside Chants. Hear more at http://www.myspace.com/anahermusic.
4. Write a New Mission Statement
Loving ourselves can be a learning process for some of us, and we all learn best when the topic we are dealing with is presented to us in plain language. The First Step: Craft a "Self-Nurturing Mission Statement" for your life. The statement should put forth the intention and vision for a fulfilling life in which honoring yourself is key. Your mission statement might look like this: I am a beautiful person, and I have so much to share with the world. Honoring myself and my needs is my first priority. My life is enhanced daily by simple acts of self-nurturing, and my world is in balance. I have excellent boundaries, and I wake up each morning with a deep sense of self-love, self-esteem, and the knowledge that I deserve good things in my life. It is my birthright to be happy, successful, and loved.
5. Redefine the Word 'Selfish'
What if Selfish became self-ish? Try taking this word, which has a negative connotation, and giving it a positive spin. It is time to be a little more self-ish! The First Step: There is a kabblistic tradition taught by Rabbi Joseph Gelberman that tells us to take each word and imbue each letter with a new, fuller meaning. Try this on for size:S Nurture your SPIRIT.E ENJOY moments alone.L LOVE yourself.F Keep FIT and FEEL good.I Make your unique needs IMPORTANT.S SHOWER yourself with gifts.H Be HAPPY and open-HEARTED.
6. Email Yourself Love Notes
Send yourself an email every day (for at least 30 days) with a new message of encouragement and love. Think it's goofy? Think again. If you were falling in love with another person, how would you feel if he or she emailed you some loving words of encouragement every day, just because they care? You would feel high on life, happy, whole, and thrilled. You would feel like something magical is happening. You would be uplifted and empowered because someone had chosen you and was honoring you by constantly letting you know how they feel about you. In this case, you are creating all the same feelings--by yourself, for yourself.The First Step: You can write anything you choose. Some examples to get you started: Tell yourself how beautiful you looked today; give yourself laurels for any job well done; thank yourself for all the good things you do for others in a day; write yourself a romantic note extolling the virtues of...you!
7. Literally Bathe in Self-Love
We all need to recharge and regenerate ourselves. And there is nothing like giving yourself some "me time" in a warm, wonderful bath. Use it as a way to clear your mind, reclaim yourself, heal, and transmute blues and blahs. The First Step: Draw a bath. Play relaxing and sensual music. Slip into the warm water, daydream, and allow yourself to bask in the energy of love. It truly creates an impression in your own mind and spirit that you are someone who deserves royal treatment and who is willing to receive it! You can power your bath with your own special salts and scents, or use these special formulas:1. Basil Bath--Just a tablespoon or two boiled in a tea holder and poured into the bath promises a sense of well-being. Studies show that basil relieves stress, and the Hindu culture used basil to stimulate fertility and good fortune.2. Rose Bath--Using rosewater and fresh rose petals, this is a bath the ancient Romans used to evoke the love goddess, Venus.3. Salty Sea Bath--Conjure the healing of the ocean with one or two cups of coarse sea salt, which will restore your electrolytes. Feeling achy? Use some Epsom salts too.Fully immerse yourself to clear your energy field. Dunk nine times and say a prayer with each. At the most primal human level, a nice warm bath gives you a chance to get a new perspective on life.
8. Put Healthy Things into Your Body
We all know by now that certain foods, chemicals, and substances like alcohol can work against us in all areas of life. It is time to truly acknowledge that your body is your temple and treat it as sacred. If you are having any kind of imbalance or dis-ease--depression, illness, self-hating blues--see if you can find an external "chemical" cause for it. Start with what you are eating. Then look at what you are drinking, as well as chemicals you are taking in. For example, sugar, wheat, yeast, processed foods, certain carbs, and alcohol can all add together to make an I-Don't-Feel-Great stew and a grumpy you. The First Step: There are many things we can do to lighten up and alleviate the cause and effect of the things that may make us cranky, ill, and feeling hopeless--which can all add to lack of self-love and self-esteem. Experiment with eliminating different potential trigger substances from your life. Delete things from your general diet that cause you to turn on yourself. Make a choice to find out what foods empower your well-being--perhaps more fruits and veggies, or your body might need more lean meat to keep your head clear--and add in the things that help you feel great.
9. Perform a Self-Love Ceremony
When I teach relationship readiness seminars, I have people look into a mirror into their own eyes and recite vows to themselves. The First Step: The following is an abbreviated sample ceremony, just to get you started:
10. Choose a Personal Theme Song
We all need a self-love anthem, a song that makes us feel good about ourselves and snaps us into a state of higher self-esteem and hopefulness immediately.Some people come alive when they hear Frank Sinatra. Some relate to an awesome gospel song or religious hymn. Others connect to anything by Natasha Beddingfield, such as the song "Unwritten."