How Would You Answer This Question?

What exactly is self-love? I remember hearing the suggestion to love myself when I was dating and felt ready to meet my life partner. Wise friends would say, “don’t expect to find your soulmate until you truly love yourself first.” OK…this sounded reasonable, but I don’t think I really grasped the concept until I recently found this quote:

“And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?

Wow. This blew my mind. It would not occur to me to put myself on a list of things I love. It would be my friends, family, dancing and hiking. It would be music and dinners out and the occasional trashy television show. But myself, no way!

We really are not taught the ways to love ourselves. We are shown what it means to play nicely with others, to be a compassionate friend and a dedicated student. I was taught to respect other people and be a steward of nature. I was shown what good manners look like. But to love myself and say it out loud? Not really.

So with this challenge in mind, I took some time to brainstorm the ways I love myself. Why? Because at the end of the day, LOVE plumps everything up. It infuses all living beings with radiant, confident, kind energy. Love is the most magical of medicines. It can transform us into something whole and strong. Even my cat demands his daily love sessions. I tell him how magnificent he is while stroking his gorgeous orange fur, and he melts!

Just think what could happen if we oozed that kind of love towards ourselves each day. Imagine how differently we would thrive in our work and connect with our family and friends. We have the power to fill ourselves up with the magical medicine of love and when we feel full, our ability to give to others grows. Even more powerful, self-love fortifies against caring about what others think.

So, despite how vulnerable this feels, I am determined to share the TOP ways that I love myself. I do this in spite of my inner critic telling me not to “brag” about myself. The doubter inside who asks, “who am I to think of myself in this way?” This is the kind of resistance we all feel when we turn to love ourselves. So, with the disclaimer that I often slip into self-doubt and regularly fail to remember these, here goes:

I LOVE MY BODY: I look in the mirror and say thank you for everything I have been given.

I PRAISE MYSELF: I thank myself for all that I do each day instead of beating myself up for what was left undone. 

I RESIST COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS: I remember that no one else on this planet is exactly like me.

I PLAY: I sing in the car, I dance for my kids at breakfast, and I let my goofy self out with clients and friends. This is an important act of self-love because it honors the parts of me that are not “all buttoned up” and perfect.

I STAND UP FOR MYSELF: When I hear my inner truth, I love myself enough to back it up with action. I say “no” when I do not want to do something even when people are disappointed. I want my kids to be in their truth and set boundaries, so I must also.

I hope this list helps to inspire one in you. If you felt skeptical while reading my acts of self-love, PAUSE and notice how easy it is to be hard on yourself. Little by little, this will change.

Start small with your new self-love regime. Have an infectious laugh? Make a great cup of coffee? Good recall for names? Pick one thing you love about yourself and make it your mantra. The ideas will grow from there. This is my challenge and invitation to you. Email me and let me know how it feels to be the kindest and most loving friend in the world to the person who you’ll spend more time with than anyone else in this life: YOU!

Johanna Beyer

Johanna Beyer is the founder and principal of On Your Path Consulting. Since 2002 she has been working one on one with people who feel that they are at a crossroads in life. She specializes in supporting individuals who feel unfulfilled with their current careers and are ready to create their next stage of work that is challenging and purposeful.