Updated: Mar 30, 2019
1) Acceptance: This is often easier said than done. Just keep in mind that acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting yourself the way you are does not mean that you cannot or should not have future goals for yourself. It simply means that you give yourself the same courtesy that you give your loved ones; you accept and love yourself, flaws included. Let’s just say we modify the “golden rule”, and you treat yourself the way you would like to treat others whom you love. If you find yourself being particularly self-critical, take a moment to imagine if a loved one were saying about themselves what you are saying to yourself. Then give yourself the same advice you would give them and deliver it with the same compassion.
2) Forgiveness: Forgiving others can be an important step in your own healing process. However, just as importantly is the willingness and ability to forgive yourself. This can go hand in hand with acceptance. When you can accept that you are human, and to error is human, then you can begin learning to forgive yourself. I see troubles with forgiveness a lot with people who are striving towards a goal and have a setback. They tell themselves that because they didn’t complete what they were hoping to that day or that week that they will not be able to reach their long-term goal and they feel like giving up. I’m going to let you in on a not so little secret, you’re not perfect. None of us are. Do yourself a favor and don’t hold yourself to an unreasonable standard. It’s okay to mess up, and it’s okay to feel badly about it, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. Forgive yourself. Show yourself some patience and compassion. Show yourself some love and let part of that be continuing on your journey towards growth.
3) Self-Care: It’s no secret that many people in the work force prioritize long work hours. It’s also no secret that those long hours can be taxing on our health and well-being. Fortunately, the general public’s acknowledgment of the need for self-care is growing. Unfortunately, with our already busy and fast-paced lives, the thought of adding another to do box to our list can seem overwhelming. One of the keys to successful self-care is the importance of not adding but subtracting. For example, take a look at you schedule and if you don’t have a chunk of time available for your choice of self-care, look to see what you can take out of your schedule so that you can prioritize self-care. Also, don’t forget that self-care looks different for everyone. So, whether you’re looking for intense physical exercise, a quiet moment alone with a good book, some time to meditate, or lunch with a good friend, don’t forget to show yourself the love you deserve and make self-care a priority.
4) Gratitude: “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy” -Unknown. Gratitude can help improve our happiness and general well-being (Peterson, 2006). When we take steps towards focusing on what we are grateful for, as opposed to our daily hassles, we can increase our positive affect, our optimism, our pro-social motivation, well-being, connectedness to others, and sleep, while decreasing our negative affect and symptoms of physical illness (2003 by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E McCullough. What a wonderful and accessible way to show yourself some love.
A few simple yet powerful ways to practice gratitude include: gratitude journaling, random acts of kindness, and gratitude letters. Gratitude journalingis writing down a few things each day for which you are grateful. It’s important to note that what your grateful for can be anything from hearing birds singing in the morning, to landing a fantastic new job. Don’t pressure yourself to come up with a list that seems impressive. Journaling can be done however you’d like to do it however, the benefits come from journaling daily. Random acts of kindness can be as easy as holding the door open for someone or giving a stranger a compliment. There are mutual benefits to acts of kindness when the recipient knows the kindness came from you and also when they don’t know. You can make your random act of kindness a secret good deed :) So, have fun with it! Gratitude lettersare a written testimonial for a person who has made an impact in your life who has not been properly thanked. These can be to friends, family members, teachers, your favorite waiter, anyone! If you can, it is most beneficial if you deliver the letter in person and even better if they are willing to let you stay while they read the letter (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson 2005).
5) Let it Go: It’s not just a popular Disney theme song. Letting go can be one of the most powerful acts of self-love you can demonstrate. By now it should come as no surprise to you that life is full of uncontrollables. In fact, most often one of the only things we have control over is how we chose to respond to any given situation. My advice to you is to learn when to let go. Learn what is within your control and what is not. The situation may not be in our control, our thoughts or emotional responses to the situation may not be in our control, but how we behave and react to the situation can be in our control. Try not to give your time and energy to things you cannot control. Give more of your time and energy to things that deserve it, such as yourself. One of my favorite zen proverbs states “Let go or be dragged”. Once you’ve given this some thought, it can feel rather liberating to let go.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1997
Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical