In the skewed church setting I grew up in, it was taught from the pulpit or in the Sunday School room that we should always put others before ourselves. Indeed, it was ingrained in us that real love was self-sacrifice, self-derision, and self-denial. Ugh… I can’t believe that anymore- it sure didn’t work for me! And so, one of my life’s quests is to completely redeem that part of my belief system and help others do the same. I now see that any difficulties I have in loving others, having compassion for them, or giving with no strings attached usually stems from a struggle to treat myself the same way. Conversely, I am more free to give and love others when I am in a true state of compassion and love for my own self.
And so, here are 4 simple things you can incorporate into your life to help deepen your own sense of self worth. I’ve only listed things that I actually do myself and these are just the tip of the iceberg! If you have other ideas to contribute, please feel free to share them in a comment.
1) Journaling– this is a way I’ve found to dialogue with myself. I listen to what’s going on inside and try to write it out exactly as it is. When I’ve laid out everything on paper, I re-read it, objectively and without judgment, and can see deeper levels to my reality, understand the deeper fears that are at the root of what’s going on at the surface. It is empowering to see the truth in your own story, for yourself. Objective/dialoguing journaling is a great way to work through the puzzle, see the struggle, and see what is really true in order to move forward.
2) Truth-Recordings– I love the book “Compassion and Self-Hate” by Theodore I Rubin. Borrowing a recording device from a friend, I recorded a section of his chapter on self-compassion and I listen to it as often as I can. Hearing my own voice reading the words is very powerful. If you don’t have a recording device, search “free online voice recording” where you can download programs to help you create your own mp3s which could be played on an ipod or your computer at work or at home (click here for a good starting point). Some laptops have voice recording programs already included, as well as some ipods (I’m not really techie, so if you have other suggestions, please share!)
3) Celebrate Small Steps– maybe you have planned some new goals for yourself in 2010. If you find it easy to feel overwhelmed, break your goal down into a bunch of small goals and take one step at a time. I am writing my mom’s life story, and if I’m feeling overwhelmed at completing it, I am less motivated to write. But if I decide to work on it for 2 sets of half hour time periods in a day, I have that success to celebrate and feel motivated to continue. Don’t be chinsy in celebrating your small successes along the way- indulge.
4) Sing Yourself a Love Song– okay, so this might sound a bit silly at first. 😀 When I turn on the radio,there’s often some song about a girl who “just can’t live without” her man, or vice versa, or so and so means the world to so and so, or “I can’t live without your love” etc etc. I couldn’t honestly sing that to another person (my definition of love has changed!) But I have found it pretty cool to sing those songs to myself. And if you need a good laugh, it’s a great way to get that started too.
Looking forward to continuing the journey with you in 2010! ~Carla