Why it's important to love yourself
Research indicates that positive self-talk is a vital tool that helps us improve our lives and change unwanted behaviours – like the ones that prevent us from reaching our weight-loss goals.
The thing is, life is full of surprises, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated at times, and fall back into old patterns that no longer serve us. Many of us experience negative self-talk – having thoughts that would be extremely upsetting if anyone else said them to us. But what if there was a way to change that habit and turn those unwanted thoughts into loving and encouraging ones that celebrate your strengths? That would be a loving, inner voice worth keeping!
Let’s look at self-love, having a positive inner dialogue and trying a few useful exercises. By practising how to have a loving inner dialogue, you transform your journey into a more joyful process, celebrating yourself and your achievements, whether big or small, every day.
“Thinking is a habit, and the tendency to evaluate ourselves in a way that is unhelpful is simply us buying into an unhelpful habit,” says Dr Joann Lukins, PhD, Director of Peak Performance Psychology, in Townsville, Qld. “Notice your thinking, but decide what you are actually going to ‘buy into’.”
When you experience an unhelpful thought, Dr Lukins recommends acknowledging it. “Thank your mind for doing its job,” she says, “and think about how much you want to buy into the thought. For example, if the thought that ‘I am a bad parent’ sends you straight to the biscuit barrel, perhaps it’s more helpful to acknowledge that you had the thought that ‘I’m a bad parent’, however, just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true. Instead, say to yourself: ‘Perhaps I just did something that I regretted, like yelling at the children, but that single act doesn’t necessarily make me a bad parent’.”
So, next time you find yourself feeling stressed and frustrated or being self-critical, notice your inner dialogue. Embrace healthier patterns, forgive yourself, and move on. Ask yourself, “What is the most loving thing I can tell myself right here and now?”
Try these ideas...
Become your own personal cheer squad by trying these exercises:
1. Take a deep, slow breath in, to the count of 5, pause for 2 seconds and breathe out to the count of 5. Repeat at least three times*. Picture yourself breathing in peace and calm.
2. When you’re finished, smile. Notice how much more settled you feel. You’re now in a better position to choose a helpful thought and make healthy, positive choices.
* Please do not do this exercise if you experience breathing difficulties, unless approved by your GP.
Write yourself a love letter
What would you want your own personal cheer squad to say to you? Include a large number of positive-emotion words. Some topics you may like to include are: why you deserve to be happy and healthy; the positive effort you’re putting into improving your life; that you’re worth the effort; how every step in the right direction is one step closer to your goal; and why you are proud of yourself. Take the letter out every now and then to re-read it. Celebrate yourself, your efforts and your achievements throughout the year.