For a big chunk of my life, I struggled with a poor relationship with myself. I had a negative inner dialogue that was critical, judgmental and mean. My perfectionist tendencies made me feel like I was never good enough. I was often completely disconnected from myself, and instead caught up in endless patterns of external striving and seeking. I punished and controlled my body. I withheld love from myself because I didn’t believe I deserved to receive it.
But over recent years so much of this has changed.
My relationship with myself has now become a solid foundation that everything else rests on, and I know that when it becomes unsteady, everything else around me starts to feel shaky too.
Over the years, I have learnt how to release my critical inner chatter, and tune into my deeper loving wisdom. I have practiced acceptance, forgiveness and unconditional self-love. I have come to love and adore who I am, the body I have been given, my flaws, my weaknesses, and everything that makes me uniquely me.
As I have drawn my awareness deeper and deeper inwards, away from the noise of the external world and the chaos of my mind, I have found a safe, warm and loving space within where I am supported, guided and at peace.
Like any relationship, the one you have with yourself takes time to build. It needs to be lovingly and patiently tended to. And it is going to take some work.
So today I am sharing with you 21 practices you can take on board to strengthen this precious relationship between you and you.
1) Pay Attention To Your Needs (And Meet Them)
Do you ignore what you need, dismiss that niggling feeling in your belly, or sideline your dreams? Instead, begin paying attention to what you want and need in every moment. Check in with yourself regularly and ask “How am I feeling?” or “What do I need right now?” or “What do I really want?”. Find out what it is and then love yourself enough to give it to yourself.
2) Use Your Breath To Draw You Inwards
Your breath can help anchor you into your body and draw you deeper into yourself. You can do this anywhere, anytime. Just bring your awareness to your breath and follow it with your attention. Feel it moving into your nose and follow your inhale, all the way down to your belly. And then follow it all the way up and out. Take 5 minutes to practise this as often as you can.
3) Create Sacred Morning Time
Even if all you can find is 5 minutes, make time in the mornings before you begin your day to sit and tune into what you want to experience and create. Visualise your day unfolding how you would love it to. Set some key intentions about how you want to feel, how you want to take care of yourself or what you want to achieve. Even this small practise will help your day unfold more consciously and deliberately.
4) Consult Yourself Before Committing
How quick are you to say yes or make a commitment? Do you stop, pause and sit with it? Rather than just reacting, automatically saying yes or jumping to action, check inwards before saying yes or no to anything. Ask: “Is this what I really want?” “Am I saying yes out of obligation or need, or because I really want to?” “Does saying yes feel supportive or draining?” Make sure you are consulting yourself deeply before you commit.
5) Support Yourself With Loving Thoughts
Do you tear yourself down and criticise yourself with your thoughts? What if you were to instead empower and support yourself? What if you were to back yourself, uplift yourself and choose to love yourself deeply. Ask: “What could I think right now that would support and empower me?” Then start practising it.
6) Move Your Body With Presence and Kindness
Move your body as a form of self-love and do it with kindness. Ask your body how it wants to move, rather than forcing yourself to do what you want. Dance, stretch, run, go to a class, do yoga, walk, skip, jump around. Let movement feel freeing, fun and nourishing. And as you move, be deeply present and tuned into your body and feel all the sensations that come with that movement, rather than rushing through to complete it.
7) Make Time For Your ‘Little Loves’
What makes you smile, warms your heart and fills you with joy? Is it watching the sunrise or putting your toes in the ocean? Having a hot bath or curling up with a book? Eating a piece of our favourite chocolate or painting? Write out a list of all of the little things, practices and activities that you love and that make you smile. See if you can make time each day for one of these small things that you love to do.
8) Get Intimate
There is nothing more intimate than staring deeply into someone’s eyes. It creates connection, closeness and deepens your bond, and the same applies when you practise it with yourself. To do this, sit close in front of a mirror and look deeply into your own eyes. Choose one eye to focus on and hold your gaze for at least 5 minutes, or even more. Be fully present with yourself, feel a sense of love for yourself and allow yourself to drop into deeper self-connection.
9) Tap Into Your Heart Energy
Your head will always try pull you out of yourself and distract you with endless thoughts. But your heart will lovingly draw you inwards. To connect with your heart space, put your hands over your heart and take 5 deep breaths into your heart and ask yourself “What guidance do you have for me today?”. Then, close your eyes and listen.
10) Explore Your Spirituality
Open up to the idea that you are simply a spiritual being having a temporary human experience and dive deeper into this part of yourself. Begin learning about this part of you with books that open your mind and draw you closer to your soul. My favourite spiritual authors are Gabrielle Bernstein, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle Abraham-Hicks, Neale Donald Walsh and Sanaya Roman.
11) Get in to Nature
And don’t just be in nature, but fully feel nature. Take your shoes off and get your toes amongst grass or sand. Get in the water. Run in the rain. Use all your senses to touch the plants and trees around you. Get completely lost in a sunset. Do it all in silence and pay attention to how you feel. Immerse yourself in the full experience of what surrounds you and breathe it all in.
12) Listen (Lovingly) To Your Discomfort
Connecting with yourself is not just about listening to your desires, but also listening your discomfort. Your uncomfortable emotions have messages for you. Listen to them. Find the courage to dive into uncomfortable feelings, face your fears and uncover you murky bits. When hurt arises, feel it. Let tears flow and use your breath to support you to move through whatever arises.
13) Get In Touch With Your Body
A beautiful way to begin this is to practise doing daily body scans. Close your eyes and begin at your feet, placing all your attention there. Then, move your awareness up through your legs, hips, belly, chest, shoulders, arms, head etc.. Don’t rush this. Eat each point, stop and place all your attention on that part of your body. Ask “How does this part of my body feel today?” “It is tight or relaxed, heavy or light, free or constricted, at ease or uncomfortable?” This simple practise will bring you into much deeper connection with your body and yourself.
14) Nourish Yourself with the Good Stuff
When we feel nourished, supported and physically vibrant we naturally feel more calm and supported. Simple things like a good night’s sleep, lots of fresh air, several litres of water and lots of leafy greens can work wonders in shifting you out of a negative funk and clearing your head. See these practices as a form of self-love and show a deep respect for your body as being the sacred home that is carrying you through this lifetime.
15) Revel In Your Own Company
Make time for just you and you, and allow yourself to do whatever you want with that time. Make it a time free from phone, social media, tv and computers. Just be with yourself and spend sacred, special and loving time with you. If possible allow yourself to just sit and be and feel the intimacy of your own company. You can also use this time to pamper and treat yourself or dive into something you love to do.
16) Let Your Body’s Wisdom Guide You
Your body is constantly communicating to you through it’s sensations and your feeling. When something is right for you your body may soften, relax and feel lighter. If something isn’t right you may notice your body contract, tighten or feel heavy. Ask yourself with each decision “How does this feel?” and tune into your body to receive your answer.
17) Create A Sacred Space
Set up a space for yourself somewhere in your home that feels special and sacred to you. A space, just for you. It may have a sheepskin rug, pillows or your favourite rug for you to sit on. Fill it with candles, crystals, oracle cards, a vision board, your favourite trinkets, books, affirmations, a journal. Make a little ritual out of visiting this space each day to sit and be with yourself in stillness and quietness.
18) Create A Meditation Practise
I began meditating by setting a timer for 5 minutes and that was all! Learning how to meditate will be your most powerful self-connection practise. Now I can sit for an hour. You don’t have to sit in silence. Try out my meditation album if you want some guidance and music to accompany you.
19) Explore The Depths Of You
Begin a journaling practise where each day you write about your thoughts and feelings and explore the inner depths of yourself. You may begin this practise each day just writing about what is going on in your mind. This practise can also be used to explore what you feel is holding you back, your fears, your limiting beliefs, or the challenges you are facing. You may also want to explore your dreams, desires, hopes, wishes and what you truly want for yourself. Perhaps you want to go even deeper by ponder big life questions like “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?” and seeing what answers flow onto the page.
20) Tune Your Eyes To Your Beauty
Each time you look in the mirror see if you can find one thing about yourself that you love or can appreciate as being something that makes you unique, special and beautiful. Make it your practise to acknowledge your beauty and compliment something about yourself each time you look in a mirror. When that negative voice arises, stop it in it’s tracks and replace it with something loving.
21) Treat And Pamper Yourself
What makes you feel super special and totally pampered? Be attentive to yourself and focus in on the small details. Get a manicure, give yourself a coconut oil massage, or book in for a facial. Buy yourself something beautiful, or expensive. Treat yourself to something you really love. Put fresh flowers in your home and light your favourite smelling candle. Whatever makes you feel luxurious, decadent and pampered is a way of showing love to yourself.
Would you love some support to build a more loving relationship with yourself? In my 1:1 coaching programs you will work closely with me and receive practical and personalised guidance.
Now, over to you! Which of these are your favourites that you already practise? What new practices do you now feel inspired to take on board? Share with me in the comments.