One of the most common pieces of advice I regularly come across is that you have to love yourself first before someone else can love you.
It’s an easy thing to say. But the reality is that it’s very difficult to put into practice.
You can’t just flick a switch and start loving yourself.
Instead, you have to break the habit of needing someone to love you for you to feel complete and whole.
Once you have been able to break this habit, you are then able to learn how to love yourself.
In this article, I’m going to share 5 powerful ways for you to start loving yourself instantly. You can also watch the video below, which this article is based upon.
Why it’s important to love yourself
First, we need to go a little deeper and understand why we try to get others to love us. I’m going to turn to the wisdom of the shaman Rudá Iandê to flesh out this understanding.
Rudá Iandê is a world-renowned shaman. He has supported thousands of people for over 25 years to break through social programming so they can rebuild the relationships they have with themselves.
I recorded a free masterclass on love and intimacy so that Rudá Iandê could share his wisdom with the Ideapod community.
In the masterclass, Rudá Iandê explains that the most important relationship you can develop is the one you have with yourself:
“If you do not respect your whole, you cannot expect to be respected as well. Don’t let your partner love a lie, an expectation. Trust yourself. Bet on yourself. If you do this, you will be opening yourself to be really loved. It’s the only way to find real, solid love in your life.”
There’s a very good reason why it’s so important to love yourself:
“Remember that the kind of relationships you will materialize in your life is exactly the externalization of the relationship you have with yourself. Your loving relationships are reflections of your inner relationship. Learn to be loving, supportive, respectful to yourself, and you will materialize the same quality in your relationships.”
The benefits of loving yourself are clear. But it’s very difficult to do this in practice.
The reason why it’s so difficult is simple:
Society conditions us to try and find ourselves in our relationships with others.
Think about your upbringing. So many of our cultural myths focus on stories of finding the “perfect relationship” or the “perfect love”.
Yet it may be that this idealized notion of “romantic love” is very rare.
The School of Life points out that the concept of romantic love is very new to modern-day society and is likely only 250 years old.
Before this, people did, of course, live together, but more so for practical reasons. They didn’t expect to become blissfully happy for doing so. They entered into their partnerships for the sake of survival and having kids.
A partnership that brings feelings of romantic love is certainly possible. Perhaps you’ve even experienced something akin to it in your lifetime. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking it’s the norm. It’s more likely that only a small percentage of romantic partnerships will be successful by the standards of romantic love. And why should that be a problem?
Instead, we are much better off from letting go of the myth of romantic love and instead focusing on the relationship we have with ourselves. It’s the one relationship that will be with us until our dying days.
We are therefore wise to learn to truly love ourselves.
These 5 exercises are designs to help you break the habit of depending on someone else for your feelings of love. They are inspired by our masterclass on love and intimacy.
1) Embody the codependent person
When you are feeling down on yourself, it’s important to begin with this exercise.
Most advice on self-love will empathize that you share affirmative messages with yourself.
I learned from Rudá Iandê a counterintuitive approach.
Instead of telling yourself how much you love yourself, do the opposite.
Look in a mirror and embody a codependent person. Tell the person in the mirror that you desperately need that person. You can’t live without that person. You are nothing without that person.
Rudá Iandê explains the exercise as follows:
“Go to the mirror and say the same to yourself. ‘I cannot live without myself. I am so important to myself. I love myself so much. I need myself so much.’ Try this exercise to bring yourself to the center after you play wiht the same character. First you play your whole projection with all your energy without fighting it. Then you put yourself in the place where you usually put your partner. This way you will start shifting something inside your consciousness.”
This is a really powerful exercise. It breaks your codependent programming and opens you up to a new way of thinking about yourself.
Now it’s time to create some new habits around how you relate to yourself.
So let’s get to the second exercise.
2) Create a list of the things you love about yourself
Now that you’ve changed your internal dynamic around your codependency, take some time out to reflect on the things you want to be loved for.
What are the qualities you want others to recognize in you?
What is it that makes you special? What makes you worthy?
This exercise is a chance to put aside your insecurities and focus instead on what makes you such a wonderful person.
Now that you’ve developed this list, ask yourself:
Do you take time to congratulate yourself for having those qualities? Do you ever take pause and feel a sense of satisfaction for having these things?
If you don’t take the time to love yourself for these things, it’s difficult to expect others to do so.
It’s important to regularly put in some time thinking through the things that you love about yourself so you can get into the habit of continually appreciating this about yourself.
3) Help someone who genuinely needs it
You won’t find this exercise in much of the literature on loving yourself.
But for me, this is a game-changer.
Think of something you can do to help someone in need today.
Don’t do it for the recognition that comes from doing it. Don’t do something because you want to be congratulated for it.
Instead, do something to help someone where there’s no way for them to know it was you.
Do something today to help someone where you won’t get anything in return.
Take some time to celebrate what you’ve done. You’re breaking the cycle of needing validation for what you do.
4) Do something you are passionate about
What brings you passion in life?
For me, I love running in the mornings. I love getting outdoors and looking around at the landscapes or houses if I’m in a suburban area. I love seeing people.
When I run, I lose myself in the passion I have for running, and I love that I’m doing this for myself, with myself.
It’s like I’m taking myself out on a date. When I get back, I take a moment to enjoy being with myself, with my tired body.
Think of what brings you passion and set some time to do this with yourself.
5) Upgrade the story about who you are
Who are you? What is the life you’ve been living up to now?
We all have a story that we tell about ourselves.
But what many people don’t realize is that you can change that story. You can upgrade your story.
This fifth exercise is to take some time out and write down about who you are. After you do this, ask yourself the following:
To what extent does the story you tell yourself about yourself rely on other characters in your life?
Do you reference your failed relationships? Is your current relationship critical to the story you tell about who you are?
When you tell the story of who you are, reflect on the extent to which your story is about the personal power you have, or whether your story is dependent on your current or previous relationships.
There’s nothing wrong with your story referencing other people in your life. In my case, my own story references my family and close friends in my life. This is important to me.
But over the last few years, I have learned how to withdraw from toxic and codependent relationships. I’ve learned how to develop an empowering relationship with myself.
The story I tell about who I am, about my life up to this point, is an empowering story.
I’m proud of who I am and I love myself for everything I’ve been through.
This is what I want for you. I hope these 5 exercises help you to develop a loving relationship with yourself.
What other exercises can you recommend to others? Leave a comment below.
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One of the most common pieces of advice I regularly come across is that you have to love yourself first before someone else can love you. It’s an easy thing to say. But the reality is that it’s very difficult to put into practice. You can’t just flick a switch and start loving yourself. Instead, you have to break the habit of needing someone to love you for you to feel complete and whole. Once you have been able to break this habit, you are then able to learn how to love yourself. The masterclass with @rudaiande on #love and #intimacy has helped many people to turn things around and focus on the relationship they have with themselves. I'm one of the people the masterclass has had a big impact on. I came up with 5 exercises for self-love based on what I learned in the masterclass. I shared them in my latest YouTube video. Link is in the bio. Check it out and let me know what you think. #selflove #lovingyourself #rudaiande #ideapod #ideapodacademy