Loving Yourself: 7 Concrete Steps (Step 2)

by | May 2, 2016 | Loving Yourself: 7 Concrete Steps | 0 comments

This is the second post of a series called “Loving Yourself: 7 Concrete Steps.” Many posts and articles about loving yourself are written in a very abstract way, as if loving yourself was a decision one makes and then it suddenly happens, like flipping a switch. It’s not. There are very real, concrete steps you can take to start loving yourself. Here is the second step.

Step 2

This step is about learning to respect your own needs. This doesn’t mean running from one desire to the next. It means learning to tune in at any moment to what your real needs are. Sometimes that means getting rest, sometimes it means having more fun. Sometimes it means paying attention to finances, sometimes it means loosening the purse strings. Many people have a hard time getting clear about what their real needs are. Some of this confusion comes from their relationship to the concept of discipline.

If a person was brought up in a household with very strict, authoritarian parents, they may rebel against any kind of discipline, whether internal or external. Discipline feels claustrophobic. If a person was brought up in a household with few boundaries or absent parents, they may have a hard time setting boundaries for themselves because they don’t know how. This kind of person often lacks self-care skills because they have never seen them modeled.
Developing a healthy relationship to discipline is necessary both for loving oneself and for being able to manifest in the world. In order to truly express ourselves in a powerful way, we must be able to set boundaries for ourselves. This means taking care of our own needs on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It means internalizing discipline so that we have the ability to take care of our self in much the same way a parent would create boundaries for a child.
A very good way to start is by focusing on our body’s needs and then moving on to our emotional and spiritual needs. By continually tuning in to your body’s needs, you can start to build the habit of self-discipline. Several times a day, ask yourself “What does my body need in this moment?” You may find that your body is thirsty because you haven’t stopped to drink anything for several hours. You may find that your body is cold and needs a sweater. Honor yourself and take care of your body.
As we grow up, we learn discipline from our parents. We come to internalize our parent’s style of parenting in relation to taking care of ourselves. We all naturally create an “internal parent.” Ideally, we internalize a loving parent that sets healthy boundaries for us. However, we may find that if we had very harsh parents, our internal parent is very harsh and criticizes us. If we had a lax or absent parent, we may find that we have no internal parent. Sometimes we have a mix because our parents had two different parenting styles. Therefore, sometimes we are too harsh and in different areas of our life, we are too lax.

It is possible to overcome a less than ideal childhood through a process called re-parenting. There are books on the subject that can assist in the process. However, just becoming aware of your relationship to discipline can help to rebuild a more positive relationship to self-discipline. And by stopping and tuning in to your real needs, you will be able to begin to take care of yourself and to trust your internal parent. After you have begun taking care of your real needs on a consistent basis, you will be able to look in the mirror and respect the person looking back. And trust is the basis of love.

Stay Tuned for Step 3 in the series “Loving Yourself: 7 Concrete Steps.”

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