10 Steps To Start Loving Yourself The Way You Deserve To Be Loved, Grab Your Journal!

Let's face it; we all struggle with feeling loved and loving others unconditionally. Whether we were taught to feel guilty, ashamed, unworthy or downright unlovable from our home life, religion, schooling or cultural influences growing up, we all must take responsibility for the untrue beliefs we adopted and begin to uncover the path towards True Self-Acceptance, Self-Love, and from there, love for others. To do this, we must begin with coming to terms with the beliefs and stories we tell ourselves about love and our self-worth.

1. Start with writing down what you believe love is—what it feels like, what it looks like, and how much there is (or is not) is in your life currently.

2. From there, start to identify moments from childhood where you felt love—when you felt loved by something outside of yourself, where you felt love for yourself, where you felt love for something outside of yourself. Write them down in your journal and sit with whatever emotions arise.

3. Then, identify times where you felt a withdrawal of love—where you withdrew love from yourself or something outside of yourself, and where you felt love was taken away from you. Write them down in your journal and sit with whatever emotions arise.

4. Read through your memories and begin to define beliefs you have about love through finding a common thread. These beliefs are most effective when they are one-sentence long, and an example would be: if you notice that all your memories of love share a sense of security (times when you felt secure, or insecure) perhaps the belief is, "I am loveable when I am secure," or "My capacity to love and be loved is dependent upon my feeling secure." Or, if you notice that there are certain behaviors that relate to your experiences of love, then perhaps your belief goes something like this, "when others make me happy, I feel love" or "if someone hurts my feelings I withdrawal love from them," or "if I show my weakness or self-doubt to others they will no longer love me." Find and name three of your beliefs about love by writing down three sentences that feel true to you.

5. Take a few minutes to sit in silence with your newly discovered beliefs. Check in with yourself—how do you feel? Were you completely honest when defining your beliefs? Is there something deeper you're afraid to see? Just notice what thoughts & emotions arise for you. Write down anything that feels important to your process.

6. Begin to identify and focus on the kind of love you truly desire. "We accept the love we think we deserve," so take this step seriously. Get really honest with yourself, and reflect on the kind of love you desire in your life. Write it down, write down how it feels, what kind of person you are when you have this love (are you single, in a relationship, married) and are you happy, empowered, worthy, free, secure, etc. 

7. Then, write down the love you think you deserve now. What are you relationships like now? What do they feel like? How do you feel about yourself? Get really honest.

8. Now you can look at where you are now when it comes to love, and where you want to be. You can also identify the beliefs you currently have about love and your self-worth. So, write down some beliefs that the kind of person who has the love you desire would have; some examples could be: "love is with me all the time," "I am worthy of love simply because I exist, and therefore I am never without love, even if I'm sad or hurt or angry," "I know that others are worthy of love and belonging, and although I may be having trouble seeing that for myself at the moment, I know that soon I will truly believe that I am worthy of love and belonging too."

9. Make a vision board or write down on a notecard your new beliefs about love, that are honest for the person you want to become (loving, understanding and capable of unconditional love, self-nourishing instead of self-deprecating). This way you'll have an image to look at on a daily basis as a reminder of what you're growing into. When you feel sad, unworthy, inferior, angry, feel your feelings appropriately so as not to neglect them (they're telling you something) and keep your beliefs/affirmations close at hand so you can use them as a tool for responding to challenges and challenging emotions in a new way. 

10. Appreciate and celebrate the little moments where you allow love into your life in new ways. When you allow someone to compliment you without feeling the need to compliment them back or shrug it off. When you respond to someone who is upset or angry with compassion rather than defensiveness. When you stop to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise, a blade of grass swaying in the wind, or a smile from a stranger. Every time you stop throughout the day to feel more joy, gratitude, beauty and love, take an extra moment to celebrate you cultivating more of it in your life!

Alyson Miller