"21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action
Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Tess Marshall
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The most important decision of your life, the one that will effect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.
Why then is this so difficult to do?
Your Family of Origin
I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.
I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.
For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out-of-control and rebellious.
I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.
I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.
I was 27 years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.
After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.
We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.
If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.
Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”
Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.
Shift Your Self-Perception
Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness, , and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.
You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.
Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, moment by moment ongoing process.
It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.
Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.
1. Begin your day with love (not technology). Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.
2. Take time to mediate and journal. Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.
3. Talk yourself happy. Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-abuse of any form, move the band to your left wrist.
4. Get emotionally honest. Let of go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.
5. Expand your interests. Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.
6. Enjoy life enhancing activities. Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.
7. Become willing to surrender. Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.
8. Work on personal and spiritual development. Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.
9. Own your potential. Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.
10. Be patient with yourself. Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and the Universe will reward you.
11. Live in appreciation. Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
12. Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.
13. Do what honors and respects you. Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.
14. Accept uncertainty. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.
15. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best.)
16. Discover the power of fun. Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”
17. Be real. Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).
18. Focus on the positive. Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.
19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection. Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”
20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth. Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.
21. Seek professional help. Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.
Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.”
"The word “spirit” comes from the Latin spiritus, which in turn is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning “breath.” Around the 13th century, the term became bound up with notions of immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, etc. It acquired other connotations as well—we speak of the spirit of a thing as its most essential principle, or of certain volatile substances and liquors as spirits. Nevertheless, many atheists now consider “spiritual” thoroughly poisoned by its association with medieval superstition.
I strive for precision in my use of language, but I do not share these semantic concerns. And I would point out that my late friend Christopher Hitchens—no enemy of the lexicographer—didn’t share them either. Hitch believed that “spiritual” was a term we could not do without, and he repeatedly plucked it from the mire of supernaturalism in which it has languished for nearly a thousand years.
It is true that Hitch didn’t think about spirituality in precisely the way I do. He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art. The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship. Hitch also used the terms “numinous” and “transcendent” to mark occasions of great beauty or significance—and for him the Hubble Deep Field was an example of both. I’m sure he was aware that pedantic excursions into the OED would produce etymological embarrassments regarding these words as well.
We must reclaim good words and put them to good use—and this is what I intend to do with “spiritual.” I have no quarrel with Hitch’s general use of it to mean something like “beauty or significance that provokes awe,” but I believe that we can also use it in a narrower and, indeed, more transcendent sense.”
- Sam Harris , “In Defense of Spiritual”
(Neuroscientist and best selling author)
The Key to Beauty and Acceptance Is You
Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Jaclyn Witt
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I read this quote the other day, and I have to say, nothing has shaken me to the core more.
For the most part, you wouldn’t know I have a serious physical disability aside from my visible limp, my difficulty getting up and down stairs, and my tendency to fall when I get weak. I was never able to do sports growing up like my friends and often had to enroll in special Adaptive Phys Ed classes in school.
I always felt my disability separated me from my peers growing up, so I put up an emotional wall and convinced myself that I had to wear the latest clothes, have perfect skin, and have the perfect body in order to “blend in” with everyone around me—in order to be truly loved. Then maybe I would be considered beautiful.
Then maybe no one would notice I was different. If I just looked like those Victoria’s Secret models, then someone would accept and love me.
So often we look to external things to define our beauty, most commonly our physical appearance. We think that if we just fit into the mold that society has told us is “good looking” then we’ll feel good about ourselves and will gain acceptance.
I put a lot of value in being in a relationship, too. Because of my disability, I was extremely shy for a long time and very insecure. All I wanted was a guy to come along, sweep me off my feet, and fall in love with me.
Then I thought I would truly be like everyone else, because I would have someone (other than friends and family) there all the time telling me that I was loved and valued.
In today’s world especially, it’s hard not to feel like our lives need to have a certain set of circumstances for us to truly be accepted.
With things like Facebook, we’re exposed to all the intimate details of a lot of people’s lives at one time. When they get engaged, married, have children, or are traveling the world with their fabulous jobs, we know almost instantly.
For a lot of us, that creates increasing internal pressure to have our life be a certain way because we think that’s what we need to feel happy with ourselves and be accepted in the world. We look to all of these other things outside of us to feel beautiful and to feel accepted, when the whole time, the only person who can truly allow us to feel these things is staring back at us in the mirror every day.
After I read this Thich Nhat Hanh quote, I went to clean the bathroom in my house and was suddenly overcome with emotion. I realized that all those things I’d been doing were what I thought I needed to do for everyone else to accept me, when in reality, I wasn’t accepting myself.
Whether it was having a boyfriend, having a lot of friends, or looking “perfect” all the time, I was trying to show everyone else, “Hey! Look! Someone loves me! I have value now!”
Really though, I was the one who didn’t like that I was different.
I was the one who couldn’t accept this disease I was born with. I had amazing friends and an incredibly supportive family who didn’t care if I walked with a limp or not—people who didn’t care that I couldn’t run a marathon or that sometimes I needed their help getting up a curb.
I was even told growing up how beautiful I was, but I couldn’t understand why I never felt like it.
It’s because I wasn’t truly being myself and accepting myself. I didn’t feel beautiful, and no amount of people telling me I was beautiful was going to change that. I was letting a circumstance I was born with define me and define how I thought others saw me.
In our extremely visual culture I think we all struggle with the idea of “beautiful.” And it can feel like no one really ever says “Just be yourself, love yourself, and accept yourself. That is true beauty.”
Beautiful doesn’t mean being physically attractive or looking like those people we see on TV or in magazines. It’s not defined by having or not having a significant other or by how many friends you have. We’re all born with our own struggles, and beautiful isn’t defined by those either.
Beautiful means just being and loving you!
I wasted many years trying to do everything I could to be considered beautiful by my peers and by society. Comparing myself to others and wondering why my life wasn’t like this or that.
The thing we don’t realize is that all along, we are already beautiful.Just for being ourselves. And we are the key to accepting ourselves—no one else.
There’s only one of each of us, and this is our chance to really live, so why waste our hard-earned energy trying to gain acceptance from everyone around us and trying to make ourselves look perfect to feel loved?
When you start down that road to self acceptance—that road to truly loving who you are, flaws and all—it’s then that you can truly open yourself up to being beautiful, for you and no one else.
It is not a new story to tell, and I wish that wasn’t the case. Many human beings (as well as non human beings) suffer from different sorts of depression, anxiety, trauma, and various other psychological disrupts. I myself am not a special incident, nor am I the only one who has felt the immense weight of complete and utter destruction upon their being. Millions of other beautiful organisms have shared the pain that I have felt, and many more will continue to feel it even as I write this blog post. I am compassionate towards all of those beings, and although I can not reach every individual out within the world, I will be extending my love to those who I am able to, and hope for others to do the same.
I have suffered with deep depre ssion since I was a child. Some of my most earliest memories were of myself laying on the floor with my dog crying, taking a rubber band to my wrist several times, and looking at National Geographic Magazine and dreaming of running away. I was fortunate to never have my family physically abuse me, or live in conditions that I did not have access to food , water, or shelter, but I did entail a roller coaster of emotional and mental abuse. My father was/still is a bipolar, major marijuana smoking, angry human being. He would treat my mother as a door mat one minute, and expect her to be a romantic partner within the next. He favored my brother, and constantly ignored or belittled me as a child. He rarely showed affection, and he would always act as if I was a burden. I was born as a premature baby due to the constant stress he put my mother through, and was nearly dead during labor. Nothing I did ever seemed to please him, and we would go through periods of time where we did not speak for weeks or months (even though we lived in the same household). On top of being made fun of at school for my petite size and unattractiveness, I was a lost child within my own mind. Fast foward through out my teenage years, and I experienced some of the most joyful and most painful emotions of my life at the time. Between loosing family members to death, falling in and out of love, and encountering emotional and sexual abuse, I was not in a stable mode to be alive. I tried to end my life on several occasions, but never was successful with my actions. Between taking 15 pills of ibprohen towards the end of my long term relationship, and trying to drown myself at the beach during college, I was an absolute mess. I longed to be released from all of the built up pain that was inside. I hated looking in the mirror, and I would find reasons to stay out of my house. My relationship with my father did not improve until more recent times, and during my late teens I was determined to change. I went out to Joshua Tree at the age of 20 for a few days and began what would be one of the biggest decisions of my life.
I put away my blade , my rubber bands, and burned my old journals which were filled with painful poetry. I discarded what was negative energy, and embraced positive space. I began writing new journals, and forgave anyone who had ever hurt me, including my father, who has been one of the biggest negative influences within my life. I forgave my ex lover for emotionally and sexually scarring me, and I forgave my brother for brutally teasing me while we were growing up. I also forgave myself for making mistakes , and allowed myself to accept my actions as a learning experience rather than a haunting nightmare. This alone was a step forward to what would be an entire journey within my life.
Although I started practicing yoga at the age of sixteen, I became dedicated to it through out my later teen years. I became obsessed with practicing, and I feel that yoga was one of the main reasons why I am still alive till this day. I do not believe in a “religion” nor do I believe in a “god”, but I do admire eastern philosophies and am spiritually connected to nature. Yoga has made that connection even more powerful. And it is why I am in a Yoga teaching program , as I want to be able to bring this mindfullness and peace to others, just as it was brought to me.
I’ve had my heart broken more than once , just as everyone who has ever loved has, and even though it is seemingly a battle for me to be able to release that tension and love again, I am constantly meditating on this and finally am allowing myself to let it go. Even when it creeps up, I will always come back to my inner-self and not let the fear and resistance guide me. And at this moment in my life, I am happy that I am letting it go, because having someone in your life who you are truly connected to on a romantic and friendship level is beautiful. Yoga, cycling, and being within nature has all been apart of my healing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And to all of those who are out there who do not believe that “it will get better”, or that they will “recover”, just know that I understand what you are feeling, and I want you to know that in order for those phrases to have meaning within your life, you have to be able to step outside of the box and let go of all of your old chains that are holding you down.
No matter how tight.
No matter how long.
No matter how painful.
It will have to be released one day, and even when it is, it is a life long journey to keep your wings open.
And that is the beauty of life.
It is forever evolving.