It may seem a bit contradictory to say that loving yourself will improve your marriage or relationships. Shouldn’t I be telling you instead to be more loving toward others. For most women caring for and loving others is something they consistently do. There is a prevailing tendency for women to give and give, secretly hoping that some day someone will take care of them. When that doesn’t happen can they become hurt, frustrated and burnt out. In reality, in order to truly love others, you need to love yourself. Unfortunately many women struggle with loving and accepting themselves. If you don’t particularly like yourself, how do you begin to turn that feeling into a healthy self-love?
Be Kind to Yourself
To begin, remember that loving feelings follow loving thoughts and deeds. So watch what you think about yourself. Start replacing put downs with positive and supportive thoughts. Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a favorite girlfriend—respectfully, kindly and honestly.
Accept that you are wonderful just the way you are. Stop wishing that you were different than you are. Self-acceptance means recognizing that you are unique, special and wonderful just because you are.
If there are changes that you strongly feel you need to make, involving your behavior, not your being, then choose now to be as you want to be. Your actions will follow your firm decision and commitment. You can more easily change your behavior from a position of self-love than you can from a position of self-loathing.
Take time for You
Next, in all their taking care of, mothers and women need to begin with taking care of themselves. If you don’t take time to sharpen the saw, you will eventually grind to a halt. If you are one of those women who has been taking care of others at the expense of yourself, then you may need to do a self-intervention.
You may need to de-stress your life. If you are over committed and overwhelmed; find ways to delegate some responsibilities to others. Also give yourself permission to say no without feeling guilty. If taking on yet another project is going to increase your stress and build resentment, it is better to say, “I am choosing not to take on extra projects right now.” You don’t have to apologize for recognizing your limits.
Make sure you carve out some time for self care in your busy schedule. Make time for things like exercise, meditation and proper nutrition. Make sure that your needs are also included in the budget. Some women continually forgo what they need and want, in order that their children or spouse can have what they need or want. While the willingness to sacrifice for each other is part of a loving family, it is important that there be some balance as well.
When was the last time that you did something you enjoyed, just for fun? Make a list of activities that help you feel great, whether it stimulates you intellectually, entertains you or makes you laugh. Make sure that you do something from that list at least once a week. Preferably you should do something that gives you pleasure every day.
When you love and care for yourself you will find that you have a lot more to give to your relationships. Respecting yourself enough to take responsibility for your self-care will have the added bonus of increasing the respect you receive from others. When you love and respect yourself you will find yourself more able to feel the love and respect of others.