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7 Ways to Cultivate a Deep Sense of Love for Yourself

Love Yourself

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

I have struggled with lack of self-love for most of my life. I experienced feelings of guilt and shame on a regular basis and constantly sought the approval of others. My father committed suicide when I was 14 years old, and that played a huge role in these feelings that I had about myself.

It completely rocked my world and everything that I thought I knew. It happened, too, at such a vulnerable age. I was on the verge of beginning high school, just going into the teenage years, and my self-esteem was already pretty shaky. My dad’s suicide shattered what was left of it.

I would struggle with his suicide for much of my teenage and young adult years. I felt angry for a long time, put up walls around myself so that others could not get too close, and never felt worthy enough for lasting friendships and intimate relationships.    

About five years ago, I began the path of spiritual study and practice, which has changed my life like nothing that I have ever experienced before. I am 34 years old now and have been moving into a place of greater, deeper, passionate love for myself. I want to share with others what I have done to experience this in my life.

These points below have helped me to expand in my consciousness and move to a place of actually feeling the love that already lies within.

1. Embody love in everything that you do. 

That means give your loving attention to each task at hand. The more love that you put into whatever it is that you are doing, even if it is just brushing your teeth, the more that you will cultivate a love-filled consciousness.

I began this practice months ago when I found myself constantly complaining in my head about the same old daily routine. I decided to see how peaceful and loving I could be while I was doing what I was doing. Not only did it make the actual activities more pleasant, a deep sense of peace took over me.

2. Practice complete acceptance in your life.

I struggled for years with thoughts that my life should be different, that my father should not have been depressed for so many years and ultimately take his own life, and that the past should not have happened the way it had.

What is more painful than the actual experiences that we may be having are our thoughts about the experiences. The fact is that we have all experienced painful situations, and to deny them, wish them away, or say that they should not have happened only creates more pain.

Complete acceptance of the past for what it is and of yourself for exactly where you are right now is truly powerful.

3. Have compassion for others.

Many like to use the word forgiveness, but everyone is doing the best that they can with what they know. Our true essence never gets its feelings hurt, only the mind does; therefore, there is nothing to forgive.

When I looked at my dad and his suicide from the perspective of my spirit and placed myself into his shoes, I felt such compassion and love for him.

What matters more than anything is not what the other person is doing, but what we are doing, so practice sending the other person love no matter what. Look at the situation from their standpoint and release the tight grip that you may have on your own point of view.

4. Be still and know that you are love.

Our true, infinite nature is that of love, so recognize that infinite nature by retreating into stillness as much as possible. There are many ways to still your mind, but the one that has been the most effective for me, especially in the beginning stages of this practice, is to place my attention on my mind.

I practice seeing how long I can go in between thoughts. They may come, but let them go, and eventually the space in between will get wider and wider. The one witnessing the mind is your true nature.

5. Pay attention to the thoughts that you do have throughout the day.

Are they critical, judgmental, and negative toward yourself and others? If so, stop when you become aware, accept and allow the thought to be, send love to yourself and to the other person, and move on.

We create our reality through our thoughts. For example, I felt like I was a victim for so many years. The only thing that that did for me was create situations where I became the so-called victim, since that was what I had in my thought-processes and, therefore, in my energy field.

6. Surround yourself with love.

Do what you can to move away from the people, places, and things that drain you of your energy. Surround yourself as much as possible with those who are loving and supportive.

If you are at a job that you dislike with a passion, look for something else that you are passionate about. Love yourself enough to give that to yourself as a gift. The more that you begin to honor yourself and do what you feel is for your highest good, the more love that you begin to feel.

7. Follow your intuition.

Begin to take steps toward those passions and dreams that you have. We receive little nudges for a reason; our intuition is directing us that way. When we stop and listen to those feelings and begin to take baby steps to act on them, a whole new universe of possibilities opens up for us.

I have been practicing this for the last five years or so now, and it has taken me down a path that my mind could never have even conceived. Many times we feel urges to do certain things, but our thinking stops us from acting. Begin to take baby steps each day in the direction of your passions.

The more that I practice these, the easier they become. I feel a general sense of peace that I have never experienced before. There was major resistance that I had at first because of the old brain paths that were set in place.

Fortunately, those brain paths can be undone and a new way of thinking, being, and doing can be brought forth. Peace and love are what make up our true nature, and all that we are doing is allowing that peace and love to shine in their natural essence. That small self then becomes the grand self.

One thing that I forgot to mention: you are worth it.

Photo by thea-bee photography

Avatar of Victoria Ayres

About Victoria Ayres

Victoria Ayres is a Certified Life Coach and writer. For inspiration on living a life of presence, passion, and purpose, please visit www.VictoriaAyres.com. Check out her newest blog that is all about empowerment after tragedy at www.TheVictoriousYou.com. Look her up on Facebook and Twitter, too.

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  • tt

    just what I needed today, thank-you : )

  • Faith B

    I love this “What matters more than anything is not what the other person is doing but what we are doing, so practice sending the other person love no matter what” It’s something that I need to remind myself of more.

  • Baz

    Our true essence never gets its feelings hurt, only the mind does; therefore, there is nothing to forgive

    Perfect :)

  • Michael Scott Dembesky

    Awesome article!! So powerful in so many ways…. thank you!! & congrats to You!!

  • http://www.middlefingerproject.com/ aimee@middlefingerproject

    Great post. A lot to consider.

  • sasha

    I thank you so much for sharing such motivation in loving ones self. I’m inspired and feel appease in making changes that will better my life mentally, physically and spiritually…

  • Kris Kett

    what does one do when his inner thoughts seem to want to take him on a hazardous path.

  • Lisa Gardner

    Beautiful. I struggle constantly with quieting my mind and feeling my instinct. Thank you for giving me a loving reminder of where my energy best serves my soul. <3

  • Dan

    thoughts are always just thoughts, wisps of mental activity that come and go like flashes of lightening; just try and recognize thoughts as thoughts, as opposed to believing the thoughts, buying into the story that your thoughts are telling you about yourself or your situation. if you see thought as thought, then they won’t be as seductive, they won’t be as compelling, and you may find yourself “following the thoughts down that hazardous path” less and less. Feel your breath, feel your feet on the ground, feel the physical sensations of your body, ground yourself in your body, and by doing so, recognizing thoughts as thoughts becomes easier. Like any new skill, it will take some time and effort to build this muscle of recognizing thought as thought. but it is one of the most helpful muscles to build!

  • camii

    Its difficult when you grow up always searching. Your post gives a great description of the essentials needed to become whole. I was a child living with a void and wondered aimlessly for years. Like yourself i only figured it out a few years ago and since then it has been a work in progress. My first step when falling in love with myself and that was the most difficult part. Once we figured out what true love is, everything else start falling into place. Life is amazing, when we get rid of all the negative thoughts and replace it with a positive outlook.

  • Aljoscha Laschgari

    Thank you very much for this post. It reminded me of myself.

  • Rainbow

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and ideas. I can relate.

  • Willie

    So many truths here, and my only job is to accept them into my life the way that you did.

  • LEAHH

    Now my favorite post here on TinyBuddha! Thank you for sharing your story, it helps me on my path to start loving myself.

  • mememine

    Ayn Rand I found was very uplifting for me.

  • Victoria Ayres

    You’re welcome. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. :-)

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you, Faith.

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you very much.

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you, Michael. I truly appreciate that.

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you. :)

  • Victoria Ayres

    You’re very welcome. I’m so glad that you were inspired.

  • Victoria Ayres

    I like what Dan has to say here. I also try my best to redirect my thoughts when I notice them going in an unhealthy direction. Affirmations have been powerful for me when I notice myself downward spiraling into negative thinking. It can take some practice to change those old, conditioned thinking patterns, but definitely gets easier.

  • Victoria Ayres

    You’re welcome and thank you for sharing, Lisa.

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful insights. :-)

  • Victoria Ayres

    You’re very welcome. :)

  • Victoria Ayres

    You’re welcome, Rainbow. :)

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thank you, Willie. It is still a daily practice for me as well, but I find that it gets easier with time.

  • Victoria Ayres

    How nice… thank you, Leah. :-)

  • Victoria Ayres

    That’s great. I’ll look her up.

  • Michael Scott Dembesky

    Welcome! Gosh I read your “about me” section on your life coaching page & we had similar lives… always refreshing to come across another survivor! Keep on Rockin!!

  • Victoria Ayres

    Thanks, Michael! You keep on rockin, too! :-)

  • Laura

    Thanks for this!

  • David cz

    Hello everybody,
    this is something that should be a small booklet to have always at hand to read and
    apply it,because the mind tend to forget those things,if not practiced daily.
    As a buddhist practicioner i falling into states of anger and selfishness,so i try to always carry in my hand something that reminds me of the ignorance i suffer.
    This beautyfull essey will be from now my second guide.
    Such a wonderful being this Victoria
    with Metta
    David

  • Glamdoll

    I’ve been on a downward slope of self-hate and this post gave me some wonderful insight on how to begin loving me.

  • Tina Kotecha

    Thank you for this uplifting post Victoria. It can be difficult to find meaning in the difficult aspects of life that seem beyond comprehension at the time. Finding love in ourselves amidst the most loveless of circumstances is something that i’m trying to do at the moment. I just wish I knew there was love out there and most importantly within myself. I guess finding love is a bit like writing a book, it begins with one word. Love begins with finding one moment and then discovering more.