When we offer ourselves unconditional love and acceptance, happiness is completely within our reach.
By letting go of all the things that hurt us, and focusing instead on all the best parts of who we are, we create the space needed to grow into the very best versions of ourselves. In that space, we are magic- radiant, confident, and ready to make every dream come true. We never shy away from a challenge, because we know that there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
Self-love, to me, translates as complete self-belief. Knowing that everything I desire is within my reach, giving myself permission to make it happen, and believing with my whole heart that I deserve it. In that space, there is nothing we cannot do.
Rule #1: Leave the past behind
One of the greatest obstacles for me in my quest for self-love was my past. People were not kind to me when I was small. I internalized the abuse of my childhood as deep feelings of shame and worthlessness.
Walking through life that way was painful.
I was angry. I found many ways to harm myself—which naturally perpetuated my feelings of shame and worthlessness.
Learning to let go of those painful experiences was monumental in learning to love the woman in the mirror. I had to realize that those experiences were not my fault. I wasn’t born with some great inherent flaw that made me deserving of pain. People hurt me from their own brokenness—it had nothing to do with me. Making that connection allowed me to move forward, knowing that I had had experienced enough pain for a whole lifetime—and I didn’t need to hurt anymore. Finally, I could stop replaying the terrible things that happened to me, and open the door for some happier memories.
Everything we do in life is a reflection of how much we love ourselves. I’ve struggled for years to understand why something so important was so elusive for me. I seemed to fight against myself constantly, holding myself back, sabotaging myself. Everything I truly wanted felt just outside my reach- but why?
How could I overcome the pattern I was living and create more happiness for myself?
A big part of my journey to self-love was establishing boundaries that support me—they have become my new rules for living. These rules were not made to be broken—they were created to remind me that I am worthy of a life that I love.
Rule #2: Stop comparing
No matter how amazing we are, we can always look out into the world and find someone prettier, smarter, more successful, richer, happier, thinner, more talented—the list goes on and on.
Realizing that everyone has a story and a struggle helped me to remember that the grass isn’t always greener over there. And, even if it is—I can only water what’s on my side of the fence. Instead of comparing myself to others, I now choose to just see the best in everyone I meet—myself included.
We all have some darkness in our lives, and we are all connected by the same gorgeous light. We are human— we all make mistakes, we fail, we hurt, we grow. Each of us has a unique experience on this earth, and to go around saying that I am less than someone else because their life looks a little shinier than mine from the outside is just silly.
Rule #3: Focus on your strengths
It’s pretty impossible to be happy when you’re constantly revisiting your worst moments and all your perceived short comings. That negative focus can only drag us down, and keep us from the things we most desire.
When we begin to shift our attention to from our flaws to our strengths—when we can see ourselves as healthy, whole, capable, brave, strong, and beautiful—suddenly we have the confidence we need to take on the world. We can climb every mountain, walk through every fire, and conquer every obstacle when we believe in ourselves completely.
Rule #4: Do stuff that makes you happy
This seems so obvious, but it has been a big challenge in my life. I used to feel guilty taking time to do things for myself. I thought I had to spend every moment taking care of others, working, cleaning, being productive. It’s no wonder why I was less than satisfied with my life then.
I learned the hard way that I have got to put myself first. I have to make time every day to do things that make me feel good. When I do that, I’m much better equipped to face life and all its challenges. I feel more at peace, more satisfied with myself. I stopped apologizing for investing my time in things that put a smile on my face. I gave myself permission to write, dance, practice yoga, spend time with friends, and do all the things that make life fun. After all, aren’t those the things that matter most?
Rule #5: Dream a new dream
This actually became a mantra for me during my divorce. One of the most painful parts of ending my long marriage, was letting go of the future we had planned for ourselves together. When I looked at it that way, it was difficult for me to accept. I had lost something that was important to me. When I focused on the loss, it hurt.
That pain kept me stuck—and was a constant reminder of the mistakes I had made in that relationship.
When I began to see my divorce as an opportunity to dream for myself in a new way, my whole life changed. Suddenly, I was excited about my future again. I had a purpose that was bigger than I had imagined. I found my voice, and began to step into my power. Whenever that familiar sadness crept back in, I would remind myself that it was time for me to dream a new dream.
Every day, my life looks a little bit more like the vision that began back then.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Image: Ryan McGuire/Gratisography
Editors: Renée Picard; Sara Kärpänen