Friday, January 29, 2010

Learning to Better Love Ourselves

Many people do not love themselves as fully as they could. Sometimes we care for others better than we care for ourselves. It is easy to neglect our mental or physical well-being as we try to meet job deadlines or complete our endless“to-do” lists. Whether you are lonely, overworked, burned out, ill, experiencing financial or relationship stress, or suffering from chronic pain, self-nurturing can help you resolve your problems and ease your suffering.

So how do we learn to better love and nurture ourselves?

Choose to think loving thoughts about yourself. We will not be able to love ourselves well when our minds are filled with self-defeating thoughts. If you discover you are harboring a negative thought about yourself, replace it with a loving one. Here are some examples:

Enemy: “You are worthless.”

You: “I am a beloved child of the Most High God.”

Enemy: “Nothing you do matters."

You: “I have a great mission to fulfill on earth. God has a wonderful plan for my life.”

Enemy: “You’ll never amount to anything.”

You: “I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I am created in God’s image, and He loves me perfectly and completely.”

You cannot love God, yourself or others too much. Our challenge is really to love them enough. God asks us to love Him with all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength—not just part of ourselves. And, if He commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, if we better love ourselves, we can better love others.

Seek to love God more fully, and He will give you greater love for yourself. We worship a merciful and powerful God who wants to fill our hearts with love. When we find we don’t love ourselves well, if we increase our focus on God’s love, our love for ourselves will increase. If we pray continually to know and understand God’s love for us, He will show us how infinite and eternal His love truly is.

Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we show more compassion and kindness to others than we do to ourselves. Think of the ways you can show kindness to yourself:

• Speak kindly to yourself and about yourself.

• Nourish yourself with healthy foods.

• Get needed sleep and exercise.

• Refuse to compare yourself to others.

• Praise God for the gifts and talents with which He has blessed you.

Give yourself permission to say “no” when you are asked to do things that endanger your peace of mind or your health.

Consider memorizing a verse or two on God’s love for you. Here are a few:

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7).

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever (Psalm 52:8).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Find self-nurturing ways to deal with stress. As we face the challenges of living, we need to find ways to deal with stress in healthy ways. We need to set aside time each day to nurture ourselves and calm our spirits . Here are a few suggestions:

• Learn to breathe slowly and deeply to relax yourself. This decreases pain and tension in wonderful and surprising ways, and, of course, it costs nothing.

• If weather permits, walk in the sun for a few minutes. Find a relaxing place to walk or sit where you can enjoy the beauties of nature.

• Stretch your muscles, take a relaxing bath or shower, or try a new activity.

• Schedule some time each day when you can meditate, read a good book, or listen to inspiring music.

When we treat ourselves with the love that we want from others, we find experience greater peace of mind. As our love for ourselves increases, we feel greater love for God and for other. We experience greater serenity. The world will become a more peaceful place when people everywhere begin to truly love themselves and then radiate that love to others.

Louise Hay writes, “Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.”

© Carol Brown

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