In my book, Kensho, A Modern Awakening, I interviewed Dr. Marsha Lucas about self-love and she had this to say, "When you have a greater capacity for healthy self-love -- and self-understanding is a necessary ingredient for this -- you have the authentic capacity to love others and to more deeply experience the reality that we're all in this together. You make better decisions and choices about how to engage with the people around you, both locally and globally."
Self-love is a topic that is not often openly discussed. Perhaps self-acceptance is mistakenly viewed as "navel-gazing" or narcissistic. However, many experts and psychologists affirm it is only as we begin to look in the mirror and take ownership of who we are while upholding empathy for ourselves, that we are able to have a propensity for love and compassion. It's a straightforward balance; when you love and accept yourself you become more lovable.
The secret to forming meaningful connections starts as an "inside job." In order to come to alignment with others, you must be willing to do some soul-searching. The late author and publishing entrepreneur, Louise Hay, summarized it this way, "I find that when we really love and accept, and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works." In other words, the depth and quality of the relationship you have with yourself ultimately determines the authenticity and success of your relationships.
Here are some ways to actively observe, accept and improve upon self-acceptance:
Try a Loving-Kindness meditation.
This form of meditation, often referred to as "metta," is designed to fortify feelings of kindness and compassion. It's a restorative practice that takes about 15 minutes. Loving-kindness meditation evokes feelings of compassion for others, and, in turn, for you. You can explore more by listening to this guided loving-kindness meditation created by researcher Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.
Know when to say "no."
The process of self-examination requires courage, honesty, and the willingness to operate from a level of truth many people often ignore, whether by circumstance or preference. One sure way to love and respect yourself is to honor your boundaries.
Spend time in nature.
Nature can be an ideal elixir for the soul -- and science backs this up. Make time for "green time." It will help with stress-relief, boost your creativity and modulate your immune system.
Take inventory of your best merits.
It is helpful to habitually acknowledge the positive contributions you make, each day. Ask yourself questions such as, "How did I make a positive impact?" "How did I act in service to others?" "What I am grateful for?" Journal your observations. You cannot begin to know or understand others until you begin the process of understanding yourself.
Practice the art of equanimity.
We are often our own worst enemy. Equanimity is simply the acceptance of "what is" without attachment -- along with a healthy dose of self-control. Meditation enhances this skill, along with self-care.
Embrace the motto, "self-care is the new health-care."
Look after your health and wellness with a 360 approach. When you take care of your "whole self," emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, you'll be in a more positive frame of mind and will have the energy and composure for compassion -- for yourself and others.