A Simple Plan To Achieve Radical Self-Love
In a world where self-hatred is a multibillion-dollar industry, loving yourself is a revolutionary act. Choosing to disconnect from the messaging that tells us we can never be too thin, white, or wealthy can completely change our lives.
Best of all, by making the decision to live as your fully embodied, entirely realized, unapologetic self, you embolden others to do the same. You let other people know that it's safe for them to be who they really are. You don't even know how massive a change this can be. By living as your whole self, you can literally tear the fabric of reality and create a new paradigm for yourself and the people around you.
"Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion." —Rumi
How do we move this theory out of the intellectual and into the practical? It's easier than we think. You don't need to move to Bali and meditate on the meaning of life every day! You can learn to love yourself in the suburbs in Australia, on the gritty streets of New York City, or on a farm in Belgium. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Stop running away from your feelings.
Many of us use sugar, alcohol, drugs, television, or compulsive shopping to suppress any unpleasant emotions that we experience. It works for a little while — there's no denying that the high from sipping hot chocolate or purchasing a new pair of kicks can be thrilling.
But eventually, this temporary ecstasy fades, and we're left alone with our feelings again. After all, whatever we resist persists. Those uncomfortable feelings will keep cropping up until we finally take a deep breath and deal with 'em.
Next time you start to experience the tingling of an unpleasant feeling, pause before indulging in your vice of choice (whether it’s eating a piece of candy, browsing through a gossip magazine, or shopping online).
It only takes a second to disrupt those old habits that don't serve us. Instead, allow your feelings to wash over you. Rather than denying and repressing how you feel, say "yes" in your mind. Surrender to the emotion. This simple act can be massively powerful: when you no longer hide from your feelings and instead greet them at the door, they are much less frightening.
Now play detective with your feelings. Use your intuition and memory to dig out the root cause of your discomfort. Here's a hint: most discomfort or pain is a result of fear. What are you really afraid of? Once you know the answer to that, you can look at the situations in your past that echoed this experience.
For example, perhaps you feel jealous when your lover talks to other women. What is the root of your jealousy? It might be a fear that you're not good enough or that your lover is going to reject you. If this is your fear, it’s likely that you’ve experienced rejection or the feeling of not being good enough in your past.
Knowledge is power. Once you know the root of your feelings, you can deal with them. I love tapping for dismantling old, limiting beliefs and taking the sting out of a story. You could also try journaling, talk therapy, hypnosis, or simply having a frank conversation with your partner about why you feel the way you do.
2. Burn your fears.
An incredibly cathartic way to release negative feelings or obsessive thoughts is to literally set them on fire. In pride of place on my hot pink altar sits a miniature cauldron — I call it my "travel cauldron"— since I have taken it all over the world with me. I buy magic paper which sparkles and sizzles as it burns, tear it into small strips and write down the things I want to release. Then I crumple them up, drop them into my cauldron, and set 'em alight. There's something primal and wonderful about watching your fears literally go up in smoke.
3. Keep your best qualities on file.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget a compliment? On the other hand, that critique you got in 1992 still echoes in your head today. So frustrating, right? It's not your fault: we all have a negativity bias that makes the insults stick out while the praise shrinks into the background. Oh, humans. We're so complicated!
You can get around it, though. When you're just getting started with radical self-love, it can be hard to see yourself as the magnificent, cosmic miracle you are. Sometimes it's easier to see yourself through someone else's eyes.
I want you to start keeping a list of the compliments you receive, and keep the list where you’ll see it every day. Read them aloud to yourself as often as you can. With a little time, you'll start to believe the beautiful things other people say about you, and you'll be able to accept them gracefully.
4. Stop putting off your passions.
Your time on this incredible planet is unbelievably limited. You are going to die one day, and nobody knows how much longer they have. Why waste your time doing things that you don't care about?
You absolutely must carve out time to do the things that light you up from the inside and make your heart chirp like a baby bird. No one else is going to help you make time for these things. Guard your schedule aggressively and make space to write, or dance, or invent, or whatever it is you adore.
Here's the truth: nothing will make you feel better than working on something meaningful. Pouring energy into your passions makes you vibrate at a higher frequency, and it is so life-affirming. When's the last time you spoke to someone who was truly passionate about something? Didn't it make you feel alive? Make it one of your goals to become one of those people.
5. Count your blessings.
There's a lot of chat about the importance of gratitude. It can seem like it couldn't possibly be that easy to be happy, so we overlook it. Ultimately, it's just like anything in life: You can only infer so much from thinking about something. Transformation occurs when we actually TRY things.
If you're unable to appreciate what you have now, it doesn't matter what happens to you in the future: it will never be enough. Cultivating a daily gratitude practice helps you to be in the moment and to see the joy in everything. I'm on Periscope every Monday to Friday at 12.30 p.m. Eastern talking about the things I'm grateful for and inviting my audience to do the same. It's an awesome ritual to help you become a stronger, happier, and more resilient person.
You could also rope your family and friends into it! Every morning and evening, ask the people you're with to list the five things they're most thankful for. Encourage them to be specific. "Having a job" is generic gratitude, but "The coffee shop was playing Al Green this morning" is deep gratitude. That means you have to really think about it. The benefits of being specific are massive and to be encouraged. This extremely simple practice can truly change your life. Try it and see for yourself!
There are so many ways to fall in love with your life — these barely scratch the surface.
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Gala Darling is a speaker and the best-selling author of Radical Self-Love: A Guide to Loving Yourself and Living Your Dreams. She has been teaching radical self-love—a selection of powerful techniques and tools that help women transform their lives—for close to a decade. Her site, galadarling.com, helps women find their voice, live without fear, and fall in love with life.