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How to love yourself

If I asked you to name all the people you love, I wonder if you would mention yourself?

Loving ourselves is fundamental to our happiness, and yet it's something most of us don't even think about. Very often the phrase is used in a derogatory way "Oh, she really loves herself!" - and yet that's exactly what we should be doing.

Our lives are shaped by our experiences and the way we react to them. If we have the right support network in place and have learnt appropriate coping strategies, we can remain resilient despite negative events. But if these things are lacking, it can result in unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour, low self-esteem and confidence, and an inability to feel kindly towards ourselves.

A lack of self-love is the root of many of the problems I help clients with. So how can we build a greater sense of love for ourselves?

Forgive yourself

Give yourself permission to let go of any guilt or regrets. You can't change things that happened in the past, but you can change the future. So forgive yourself fully for what is past, knowing you did the best with the resources you had at the time.

Nurture yourself

Never stop moving yourself forwards. We all need goals to move towards to feel fulfilment and a sense of personal achievement. Take time out for you, so you can do the things that nourish your soul and make you happy.

Calm yourself

Mindful breathing techniques, self hypnosis, meditation and yoga can all help you access that quiet inner place where it becomes much easier to tap into all your very real inner strengths. Learning to calm your mind is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Talk to yourself

The most powerful words in the universe are the words you say to yourself, so choose your words wisely! I challenge you to take some time each day to look in a mirror, and simply repeat the words, "I love you". This will probably feel really uncomfortable to begin with, but stick with it - because very soon you will begin to see yourself in a different light.

Be by yourself

If you can, do things alone. Learn to enjoy your own company - go for a walk, watch a film or theatre show, visit a cafe or go for a meal. By being comfortable with yourself you will find you become less dependent on others for your happiness.

Protect yourself

Set boundaries that are comfortable to you, that will help you build and maintain healthy relationships. You don't have to explain them to anyone or negotiate - just do what's right for you.

Surround yourself

We are the sum total of the people we hang around with - so make sure the people around you are positive, uplifting and kind. Are they the people who truly have your best interests at heart?

When you learn to truly love yourself you will discover a freedom like no other. So what can you do today to start loving yourself more?

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