For a long time, I didn’t love myself.
I beat myself up for being me.
I hated who I was, and I focussed on all the negative aspects of myself.
I’m not good enough; I’ll never be a success was the general theme of my thinking.
I spent most of my life telling myself in lots of different ways that I was not worthy.
I agonised about my past mistakes and wrong turns I took in my life.
If I had just done this instead of that life would be different.
If this hadn’t happened to me, then life would be better.
And I continuously forgot all the beautiful moments that had happened in my life.
I didn’t forgive myself for being a human being, there was, and there still is, a genuine part of me that yearns to be a perfect spiritual being.
Many times I took the easy path and distracted myself with drugs, alcohol, stress, keeping myself busy, staying in bad relationships, seeking approval and pretending I was ok when I wasn’t.
Doing this doesn’t make you feel alive human being it makes you numb to your experience, unfeeling and a robot.
One of my goals is to help you wake up to the incredible creative force that you are.
I’ve not reached the end of my self-love journey, hell I’ve only just begun in many ways.
But I’ve come a long way in seeing what it means to love myself for who I am, an imperfect human being.
What I’ve started to see is that everything flows from the relationship that you have with yourself.
That once you start to treat yourself as someone worthy of love, respect and compassion, then life gets easier.
You find it easier to exercise.
Easier to eat healthily.
Easier to set boundaries.
Easier to build loving relationships.
Easier to find purpose, meaning and motivation in life.
And easier to ride out the challenging and difficult times.
The sad part is that most people don’t put the effort into loving themselves.
They know it is a good idea, but they think they can leave that for later.
And then they end up drifting through life, being their own worst critic and limiting their potential.
And even if you think that you’ve got this self-love thing down ask yourself this.
Have you ever really felt loved by yourself or by someone else?
Have you ever felt loved and accepted for who you really are?
Most of us say no to that question.
So how do you do it?
First, it starts with seeing how you create your experience of life.
Understand where your experience is coming from
Your experience of life doesn’t come from the circumstances in the world.
Your experience of you doesn’t come from the past or from your mistakes.
Your experience comes from thought in the moment.
You feel your thinking in the moment.
If your thoughts about yourself are ones of contempt, disdain and indifference, then you’ll feel that thinking in the moment.
And this isn’t about changing those thoughts or thinking more positively.
It’s about understanding that in moments of distress my experience isn’t coming from outside of me, it is coming from within.
We only work one way, and that is from the inside out.
Thought is transitory and illusionary
The nature of thought is that it is always changing, it ebbs and flows.
Thinking is something that is continuously happening, and if I let my thought be, it will continue to occur without my intervention.
It’s much like breathing.
Now I’ve brought your awareness to your breath you are probably manually breathing.
Imagine if you had to breath yourself all the time how much energy would that take?
You don’t have to control, manage or activate your breathing; it’s automatic.
Thinking is like that.
We believe that we need to control or change our thinking.
But we can just let our thinking go and not hold on to any one particular thought since there will be another thought along in a moment.
And the more we let our thinking go, the more the mind naturally quietens down.
A quiet mind is your natural state.
When we see this to be true, we free ourselves to experience life in a new way.
You are only ever one thought away from inner peace.
Happiness and love are within you
Just as your experience of life isn’t coming from the world.
Then your experience of love and happiness isn’t coming from the world either.
Love and happiness are feelings that are created from within us.
And the only thing that gets in your way and takes you away from your innate wellbeing is innocently taking your own thinking too seriously.
The three principles behind your experience
Each of us has been gifted with three principles that describe how you create your experience moment-to-moment.
These three principles together create your experiences and allow you to experience life.
Thought – creates your moment-to-moment experience of life and thus your moment-to-moment experience of yourself.
Consciousness – allows you to be aware of your thinking and thus be aware of your experience. What you think you feel, and your relationship with yourself stems from this thinking.
Universal mind – This is the energy behind life, the source of your thinking and the source behind all of life. It’s the intelligence that makes it work, that ensures life begets life, cuts heal, and acorn seeds turn into oak trees.
The principles allow you to have this gift of experiencing life, and it’s how you use this gift that determines the quality of your relationship with yourself.
The more you see through the illusion of thought, the more thinking you can remove from your mind.
And the less thinking you have, the lighter you’ll be, the more in touch with the present moment and the more in touch you’ll be with the truth of you.
The more you experience feelings of love, happiness and wellbeing, allowing these qualities to be who you are more-and-more.
Understanding that you are feeling your thinking in the moment is the first step, and the next step is to start to treat yourself differently each day.
We sometimes forget that we are in our thinking and our thinking can seem very real to us.
It helps then, to treat yourself as if you are the most important person in the world each day.
I don’t mean that you put your wants above other’s needs but do ensure that you put your needs first.
You can’t care for others until you’ve taken care of yourself.
Ask yourself, what do my behaviours say about the relationship that I have with myself?
Look at your actions during the day, do they reflect the actions you would take if you truly loved yourself?
What foods are you putting into your body?
What internal speech are you using when you feel down, depressed and unmotivated?
Are you exercising and moving your body?
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you expressing gratitude for your life and the people around you? Gratitude really is your superpower it will change you faster than anything else.
Can’t find something to be grateful for?
Take a moment to look at the bigger picture.
You’re reading this on an electronic device, probably in a safe environment, you have food, water, shelter to hand.
Life used to be much more complicated than it is right now.
You can always make a case for how others are better off than you but you often fail to recognise how much more you have than others as well.
Be grateful for that.
Are you creating space in your life for spirituality?
Yoga, meditation, prayer, reading and attending talks or services.
You don’t have to believe in a sentient God or intelligent power.
Just recognise that you are part of something bigger than yourself.
That there is a part of your experience that is unknowable, vast, never-ending, infinite…
Are you setting boundaries?
Removing toxic people and relationships from your life and eliminating or reducing toxic habits and behaviours?
If not start removing them today.
No rush start small but work on improving your habits day-by-day.
We forget that we are playful beings you take life seriously at your own risk.
Make room in your life for playfulness and games.
Have fun, enjoy your day.
There is a child in you that wants to have fun, smile, and laugh.
Play with your friends, play games on your own, be a little bit silly from time-to-time.
Accept all of your experience without limits
We have been sold a lie that you can live in a state of continuous happiness and bliss.
It’s just not possible.
Your moment-to-moment experience is always changing, and it isn’t possible to make every day a great day.
I’m not even sure that is a good idea.
I used to hate feeling sad and depressed, and there was a time in my life when I used to wake up and reach for drugs to keep me happy.
I was high at work and high at home.
I was avoiding my emotions and struggling to keep my head above water.
When my failing relationship imploded, I rushed to the doctor to grab more pills and antidepressants.
Picking up my prescription, I sat with the first pill in my hand.
My mind was suddenly quiet, and a small voice said ‘you have to feel this’.
I threw away the pills and spent the next few months in a dark place, struggling to comes to terms with who I was and where I was in my life.
But I got through it rebuilt my life found a new relationship and haven’t looked back.
To be fully human, you must embrace all of your experience darkness and light.
At the highest level, this is coming to terms with your own death and the death of everyone you will ever love.
At the day-to-day level, this means realising that pain and suffering are part of the human experience to deny this means you are denying reality and denying what it means to be human.
You are human, not a perfect spiritual being.
You get angry, sad, jealous, guilty, depressed, disgusted, happy, surprised, amazed, and everything in-between.
Underneath it all, you are well of love, beauty and peace.
Be honest about who you are, embrace all aspects of you and all aspects of life.
Love all of it, including the dark bits.
Because you feel your thinking in the moment, you can only do as good as the thinking you had available to you at the time.
You don’t have a time machine you can’t go back and change the past.
Healing doesn’t start until the beatings stop so stop picking apart past mistakes.
If you could have done it another way you would have done it another way.
Don’t beat yourself up for being human.
Forgive yourself continually in each moment and stop expecting to be perfect.
When I’m in nature, I can step back and look at the wholeness of a tree and up close I’ll find rough edges, cuts, wounds, broken twigs and knots in the bark.
The imperfections in the tree make the whole even more beautiful, not less.
The practice of self-love means working with yourself wherever you are at.
There are going to be times when you are in the flow, everything works, and you fully embrace who you are, flaws and all.
And there are going to be times when you feel overwhelmed, stress catches up with you, and you want to climb back into bed, pull the covers over you and stay there forever.
There will be times when you lose someone you love and be lost for months on end.
And sometimes you won’t want to deal with being human and wish you could run away and hide from it all.
It’s all good.
Self-love is about stepping fully into life, embracing it with your sleeves rolled up, heart open, ready to experience everything life has to offer.
You’ve got this.
Join Gary on a journey to self-love
Gary will be exploring the principles and how they help you become more open, loving and accepting of yourself with Gary’s ‘Journey to self-love’ programme at the Brussels Yoga Loft.
You get 12 hours of instruction over six weeks as you look at how you can fall in love with yourself and fall in love with life.
The programme combines, Yoga, meditation and a teaching of the principles and how they apply to developing a better relationship with yourself.
By the end of the 12 hours, you’ll have all the knowledge and tools you need to radically change your relationship with yourself and change your life.
Learn more and sign up here.