Mind & Spirit

6 ways to love yourself

By: Mila Kadelkova

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

6 ways to love yourself

By: Mila Kadelkova
Most of us consider the idea of "loving ourselves" a little cheesy, but if you're resisting you're just putting the brakes on personal growth. Everyone's got emotional baggage – but not all of us are conscious of how it's holding us back. If you're a compulsive worrier, a perfectionist or simply feel like you're in a rut then read on. We've put together a list of easy ways to help you stand tall and proud. There's also some juicy advice from Kimberly Moffit, a Toronto-based psychotherapist and life coach, on how you can improve the quality of your life.

6 ways to love yourself
1. Support yourself

Stand behind the good and bad choices you make. "Own your choices and realize you weren't necessarily in the wrong when you made the bad decision," says Moffit. "Everybody makes bad choices and it's unlikely it was a bad decision at the time. Mistakes often end up making you stronger in the end and the best thing you can do is go forward."

Exuding confidence can do wonders for your self-esteem. Be proud of your choices because it's impossible to make the right one every time – but it's possible to listen to and believe in yourself. Just as you would with your partner, stick by yourself in good times and bad. Be lenient with yourself and learn from your mistakes.

2. Live in the present
People tend to get so overwhelmed with work, family and responsibility that they rarely live in the moment. Have you ever found yourself planning what you need to get done next week, next month or even next year? You're not the only one, says Moffit. Instead of trying to control the future, try to focus on what you have accomplished thus far. Find satisfaction in your achievements and stop moving robotically from one goal onto the next.

"In our society we get bogged down and start to live in our heads instead of our bodies," says Moffit. "Activities like deep breathing and meditation can help us get in touch with our bodies and will actually increase our self-esteem."

Moreover, stop dwelling on what should have been and be the first to acknowledge your efforts.

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3. Pamper yourself
Physical pleasure goes a long way when you're feeling down on yourself. Life is so busy you may not even be aware that you're neglecting your own needs. Moffit says that every person needs a good amount of time on his or her own to reflect and relax. Awareness of repressed needs and desires is the first step towards truly learning to appreciate what you need from you. "Going to the spa or even taking a bath at home will make you feel good about yourself. You're telling your body 'I need to tend to me' and when the body gets the message, so does your mind," advises Moffit.

So do yourself a favor and take one afternoon a week to yourself. Indulge in a massage or manicure, or better yet, ground yourself at home and take a long candlelit bubble bath with your book. You'll be surprised at how calm and content you feel afterward.

4. Exercise on your terms
It's time to kick the exercise blues to the curb. Ongoing exercise is crucial for overall well-being. Fitness supports the body physically and mentally, yet most of us struggle to hit the gym regularly, which results in feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Set realistic fitness goals involving an activity you love, whether it’s dance class or Pilates, and you'll find yourself much more interested in meeting them.

Also, do yourself a favor and get off that scale once and for all. Your self-esteem does not need to be measured by numbers on a scale. It's hardly accurate if you're building muscle, and all it does is hold you back by making you feel like a failure when you're not achieving your goal weight.

And don't focus so much on toning your abs and working on your glutes: Moffit recommends activities like yoga, which focus more on the body-mind-spirit connection. "To reconnect with ourselves, we need to get in touch with our body for what it is: a miracle, a living, breathing machine," she says. Setting weekly goals instead of one long-term goal will also help you stay on track, because it can be hard to keep consistent when your objective seems so far away.

5. Offer help
While this sounds so cliché, the simple act of helping someone makes us feel good about ourselves. This doesn't have to mean donating hundreds of dollars to charity – acts of kindness come in all shapes and sizes. Offer your seat on the bus to someone who looks tired, help shovel your neighbour’s driveway or donate clothes you don't wear to a local charity. The opportunities are endless, and not only will you feel fulfilled and good about yourself, you'll also make new friends who will respect and cherish you. When you feel supported by those around you, it's hard not to appreciate yourself.

6. Express yourself
Repressed emotions have the power to hold you back from seeing yourself for what you really are. Moffit often recommends her clients keep a journal. "A journal allows you to work through the problems you face on an everyday basis," she says. "It helps increase your self-worth and you may be surprised to find out that what you were blaming yourself for was not your fault at all."

Keeping a diary, or even painting, signing or playing an instrument will help you hash out bottled-up emotions. It's important to bring these feelings to the surface so you can work through them and eliminate negative ones.

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Mind & Spirit

6 ways to love yourself