Do you just want to punch people who say, “You must love yourself first.”?
What does that even mean? I am poking fun at myself a bit here because learning to love and trust yourself is what I encourage people to do in the IFT practice. The difference is that my unique therapy trains our brains to change our relationships between the mind and the body.
I wish it were as easy as “positive thinking” in a social media meme, but the work for more permanent change goes much deeper than that. You would never learn to play the piano by reading an article and telling yourself that you can do it! No, you would take lessons, practice, and keep trying until you master your first Bach Etude.
The work and training involved in learning to love yourself are engaging in the form of relationship training. We typically don’t think about how we eat, drink, and take care of ourselves as a relationship, but putting it in this framework clarifies and helps.
Like any relationship, how you relate to yourself is complicated. Just as we don’t always feel “in love” with our romantic partners, sometimes we are annoyed, feel safe, bored, comfortable, restless, angry, etc.; we have the same long array of emotions that we think of ourselves. The range of human emotions is wonderful and vast, and it is a shame not to experience as many as we can. However, awareness of the predominant emotions in your life creates so much understanding of the driving force behind all the behaviors and actions that we take in our relationships. A first step would be to ask yourself, “If I were in a relationship with myself, how do I talk to myself? What is the emotion that comes up when I look in the mirror or reflect on my life?”
How do you actually feel through most of your day? Is it full of anxiety? Is it numb? Sad? Worried? At peace? And can you identify the words in your head that bring it to that emotion?
The lovely thing about re-training your brain to engage more in the feelings of comfort, love, and trust with yourself is that you will want to take care of this vessel called your body that carries you in a loving (not punishing) way. Like children, who learn more through support and attention and not from dislike or shame, our adult brains are no different. A loving relationship with yourself not only feels better, but it also is necessary to get to permanent positive results. Whether you want to have a better relationship with food, quit smoking, quit over drinking, and quit excessive worrying, it HAS to start with that core relationship.
If you want to learn more about thought work and Inner freedom therapy’s power to teach you a new approach to relationships, give me a call or sign up for a free 20-minute consultation.